The Daily App: American Presidents -- Interact With History
Political memes like "binders full of women" are funny, but it's important to remember we're electing the one of the most important political figures in the world.
With two presidential debates down and one more left to go on Monday, October 22, there's no doubt that Facebook timelines will be crammed with commentary on the debates and events leading up to November's election. Much of it will be pithy, some of it will actually be witty, but the social media formats often flatten debate to a series of sound bites, no matter what side of the aisle you stand on.
But a history app reminds us of the importance of the presidential election, using the multimedia format made possible by tablets to package political history in a fresh, exciting format that throws light on the impact U.S. presidents can make during their time in office and why legacies matter.
What's the App?
"American Presidents" is available from Peripatetic for iPad only for $4, offers a history of the U.S., as presented through the lens of its commanders-in-chief. Through an elegantly simple user interface and quirky yet simple graphics, it offers a wealth of historical knowledge on all 44 U.S. presidents.
Through bios of presidents ranging from George Washington to Barack Obama and including every president in between, American Presidents explores the impact each president has made on U.S. history. The bios are lengthy but not exhausted, written in clear and concise language.
Beyond the bios, however, lies the real wealth of the app. Each president also comes with a timeline that provides historical context of the presidents' lives and political decisions, with points you can click on to get more information on important events. The app delves into the impact of presidents on landmark crucial Supreme Court cases, for example, as well as explores how they shaped the course of major events like the Civil War.
An adjustable map gives a sense of how the geography and reach of the U.S. changed with each early presidential reign, and beautiful vintage illustrations add visual interest. Notable history-making texts and speeches are included, and you can quiz yourself to make sure you've retained knowledge.
All the historical information is presented in a beautifully engaging format, taking advantage of the multimedia tablet format and helping you connect biographical events and facts with the larger story of U.S. history.
You'll Want It If...
You're a political junkie with a bent for history and going beyond the sound bites for some real insight and knowledge. The American Presidents strikes a nice balance, managing to offer substantial engagement with U.S. history but in a simple, elegant way that never feels overwhelming and weighty. With its appealing look-and-feel and ease of use, it's a great tool for history buffs, as well as a solid study resource for younger students looking to beef up their background history.
The only real criticism from users and reviewers is that it isn't yet optimized for the iPad's retina display, but the app is still visually dynamic enough that it doesn't get in the way of its chief function: offering a stimulating overview of U.S. history through the lens of its leaders' legacies.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
American Presidents is really geared for adults and older students -- the ample amount of written material really requires more advanced reading levels than younger students are capable of. But for kids who want to know more about the presidents -- or the parents that would like them to -- Disney's American Presidents is a better place to start.
The Disney app covers similar ground, exploring each president's historical legacy, biography and key decisions, and features interviews with political insiders and officials like Bob Woodward, Wesley Clark, Sam Donaldson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Robert Reich and more. The app covers the same ground as the national social studies curriculum standards for grades three to eight, but it's engaging and fun for all ages. ♦