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1835 1850 1867 1893 1894 1918

New TwHistory Site Released…

If you are a fan of TwHistory you may have already heard the news. We have developed a new site to make creating and sharing TwHistory reenactments easier than ever. Check it out at http://beta.twhistory.org.

We shared it at the Open Education conference as well as Mozilla’s Drumbeat Festival this week in Barcelona. We would love to have your feedback on the new beta so we can keep making TwHistory better. Thanks!

Our presentation is also available: http://slidesha.re/twhistory-opened10

We invite you to come create your own Twitter reenactment. Two that have just been added include the History of the Internet and Titanic Tweets (100th Anniversary Edition), which will launch (and sink) April 2012.

Posted on November 6th, 2010 by tomcaswell  |  No Comments »

Sinking the Titanic, 100 years later

During the 2010 Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange (TTIX) conference we presented TwHistory to a group of educators — and then we sank the Titanic with them. In less than an hour our attendees researched and then used a set of Twitter accounts to represent the final hours of the Titanic from the perspective of several key historical figures present at the event. We used several online sources prepared ahead of time, as well as a shared Google Spreadsheet to create and organize a narrative built with over 100 tweets, starting from the point when the ship struck the iceberg until it sank several hours later. You can see our Titanic tweets here.

We were thrilled at the response from the Titanic mini-reenactment, and we are interested in creating a fully developed TwHistory reenactment of the final voyage of the Titanic to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that event in April 2012 (Join the ) We feel this is a new and exciting way to learn history by watching the events unfold in real-time. We also see opportunities for students to learn to think more deeply about history by participating in creating TwHistory reenactments with their classmates. They will learn how historical narratives are made.

As you may already know, TwHistory entered the Pepsi Refresh Everything contest in an effort to fund the creation of more virtual reenactments as well as lesson plans to help teachers use them with their students. This work will include an example reenactment: the final voyage of the Titanic. Last month TwHistory was a runner-up and was given an opportunity to compete again in October. This month we are ranked even higher (currently #9 out of over 1000 ideas). We are half way through the month, and we need your help to stay in the top 10 and win! Please vote daily for us and our partners until the end of October. You are allowed to vote 10 times each day for 10 different projects. We have set up a voting page to make it easy to vote for all 10 projects every day: http://big10alliance.org. You can use your Facebook account to vote, or you can sign up for a Pepsi voting account — or you can do both and help us even more! If you would like a daily reminder link, please follow @tom4cam on Twitter or Tom Caswell on Facebook. Thanks for supporting TwHistory!

Posted on October 15th, 2010 by tomcaswell  |  No Comments »

A great opportunity for TwHistory

TwHistory was a runner-up in September for the Pepsi Refresh contest. This month we are ranked even higher (currently #9 out of over 1000 ideas). We need your help to stay in the top 10 and win! Please vote daily for us and our partners until the end of October. We have set up an alliance page to make it easy to vote for all 10 ideas every day!

A few months ago I helped a friend win the Pepsi Refresh Challenge, which gave $25,000 to one of my favorite music associations, the Associate of Redlands Bowl. The following month he did it again, this time at the $50K level. The basic idea is that there is strength in numbers. So TwHistory has teamed up with other groups to form an alliance by supporting each others’ projects.

We are competing for a $25K grant for TwHistory and we have a month to collect all the daily votes we can. It’s simple: if we are in the top 10 with the most votes at the $25K level at the end of the month, we get the funding. We are currently ranked #16 out of over a thousand entries, so we are definitely in the running. Here are our deliverables:

  • 10 lesson plans built around historical documents
  • 1 example of a virtual historical reenactment (Sinking of the Titanic)
  • 1 ‘how to’ video posted on our site for educators to learn the TwHistory process

Vote early and often

Vote for TwHistory and its partners here. You can sign in using your Facebook account, so it’s really easy. You are allowed to vote for up to 10 projects each day, so please vote for our partners as well.

Thanks for voting! For daily reminders and links, add me to your Twitter or Facebook. Forward, march!!

Posted on September 4th, 2010 by tomcaswell  |  No Comments »

The Titanic

Ladies and gentlemen. The Titanic will sail again…and then it will sink again!

We are presenting TwHistory at two conferences this week (TTIX and GLS). We will explain how a TwHistory event can be coordinated, and then we will demonstrate it by asking participants to create tweets around the sinking of the Titanic.

If you would like to be updated on this event, please follow @TwHistory. This event will happen June 10th, 2010. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: The Tweeting from the Titanic presentation was a great success! Video from the presentation (part 1) and the hands-on demo (part 2) is now online. The Prezi presentation slides and the are also available. We are planning a similar hands-on TwHistory workshop for Wednesday, October 27th at the 2010 AECT International Convention in Anaheim, CA. Participants will create tweets in a reenactment of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We hope you will join us!

Posted on June 8th, 2010 by admin  |  No Comments »

Paul Revere Rides Tonight On @PatriotCast

PatriotCast is an eight-year online reenactment of the American Revolution via Twitter. Created by TwHistory partner Jason Phelan, PatriotCast follows the events of the war in real-time, including Paul Revere’s famous ride tonight and tomorrow’s events at Lexington and Concord. These important moments mark the beginning of the war and the first major events broadcast via @PatriotCast on Twitter. It is also a great way to celebrate Patriot’s Day! PatriotCast follower ehartmanrealtor says: “Your project is probably the best use of twitter so far. I’m really enjoying it.” For more information visit the PatriotCast blog or start following it directly on Twitter. PatriotCast is listed in the TwHistory reenactment directory. If you are organizing a historical reenactment on Twitter and would like to be listed in the TwHistory directory, please contact us.

Posted on April 18th, 2010 by tomcaswell  |  No Comments »

TwHistory Awarded Funding from Talis Incubator for Open Education

We are thrilled about today’s announcement that TwHistory has been awarded funding from the Talis Incubator for Open Education. From the Talis blog:

As Marion Jensen, TwHistory’s creator and project manager explained, “We’ve spoken with many teachers and historians about TwHistory, and the idea has really generated a lot of excitement. But we see that excitement dim when we explain the rather difficult process involved. The generous grant from Talis will provide a simple way for students and teachers to create their own Twitter re-enactments, as well as find and follow other re-enactments on the web. We are very grateful to Talis for their support.”

The TwHistory project was one of three projects selected from a group of eight finalists announced two weeks ago. More from the Talis announcement:

The TwHistory project looks at the potential of Twitter to deliver exciting new ways to study history. Tweets are sent out at an appropriate day and time, as if a historical event were happening at that exact time. Using a group of volunteers, for example, the Battle of Gettysburg was tweeted using journals and letters from fifteen soldiers present at the battle. The project aims to simplify this process, enabling more educators, students and volunteers to create their own TwHistory events. David Wiley loved the idea, and noted that “it does seem to be gaining ground with educators. Making it significantly easier to do, as with the tools they’re proposing, would fuel the fire.” The Review Board was also excited about the potential of this idea beyond the field of history.

Posted on April 8th, 2010 by tomcaswell  |  1 Comment »

Pioneer Trek Has Begun!

Heber C. Kimball (Image credit: MTPICHON) CC-BY-SA

The 1847 Pioneer Trek is under way, and it’s all happening on Twitter. The Deseret News printed a front page article on it this morning:

“Leaving Winter Quarters with 6 of my teams,” tweets Heber C. Kimball — a man most LDS know only as a faded, 1800s-era daguerreotype staring out from the pages of a church history manual.

Another well-known (but long-dead) pioneer tweets a couple hours later to report some horse trouble.

It’s not a joke. It’s the latest trend in historical re-enactment.

The article also describes the basic idea of TwHistory, which is worth sharing:

The pioneers’ posts are near-direct quotes from journals kept during the 1847 journey. Jensen and Caswell rewrote the entries in present tense and, at times, condensed the wording to better fit Twitter’s 140-character limit. They estimate, according to the activity, what time to broadcast each tweet.

“If you were just following one of the threads it would be very boring,” Caswell said. “But when you listen to them all in concert it really does paint a picture. I feel like there’s this group out there experiencing something historic, and I get to be a fly on the wall.”

We hope you’ll join us on this 4-month adventure. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, it’s quick and free to sign up for one (see our FAQ page for more info). We also have a section that explains how to get updates from the Pioneers via Twitter. Even if you don’t “get” Twitter, we hope you’ll give it a try. The pioneers are on the move, so jump in and join them!

Note: We have set up a Media Mentions page to track and acknowledge news organizations. We are excited to see so much interest in TwHistory!

Posted on April 6th, 2010 by tomcaswell  |  No Comments »

Pioneer Trek

Our updates have been few and far between, but that is because most of us here at TwHistory have been vigilantly working on our latest reenactment. The journals and letters have been read; the tweets have been prepared; and on April 5th, a group of pioneers are packing up the wagons, hitching up the oxen, and preparing to make the journey from Nebraska to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Their journey will take them over one thousand miles, and across the Rocky Mountains. The group consists of 73 wagons, 93 horses, 52 mules, 66 oxen, 19 cows, 17 dogs, some chickens and one cannon. The journey begins the first week in April, and will go until July 24th, the day Brigham Young entered the Great Salt Lake Valley, and declared the journey done.

This TwHistory reenactment pulls from journals and letters from the pioneers who made this trek. We will be tweeting the trek in real time, following over 20 pioneers for almost four months. If you would like to travel with these pioneer as they  make their way from Nebraska to the Salt Lake Basin, please visit the Pioneer Trek page. You are welcome to join us on our journey.

Posted on March 16th, 2010 by admin  |  Comments Off

Goals for 2010

We’ve gotten several requests from people asking how they can start their own TwHistory reenactment. While all the technology exists to run your own project, it can be a bit unwieldy. It involves using tools from several different sites, and there is no easy way to manage it. And once the reenactment is over, there is no way to set it up so that it can be broadcast again the following year.

We’re trying to create a  set of web tools that will make starting, managing, and running your own reenactment much easier. In fact we’re applying to several funding agencies in hopes of getting some money to create tools that would allow users to:

  • Easily start and manage a TwHistory project
  • Create a list characters
  • Schedule or import tweets that would then be broadcast at a certain day or time
  • Broadcast the reenactment every year

If you are interested in starting your own TwHistory project, there is a way that you can help. The funding agencies to which we are applying want to see projects that many people will benefit from. If you think that your organization would use tools like the ones I’ve described above, please send us a message. If we can show that many oragnizations are interested in these kinds of tools, we will have a better chance of getting funded.


Posted on December 18th, 2009 by admin  |  No Comments »

TwHistory in The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Wired Campus Blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article about the TwHistory project called What Lincoln Would Have Tweeted. We are grateful for all the attention the project is getting, and we look forward to new collaborations and reenactments in the coming year.

Posted on December 15th, 2009 by tomcaswell  |  No Comments »