Visualizing the Past: The Design of a Temporally Enabled Map for Presentation (TEMPO)

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Nathan Prestopnik
Alan R. Foley


We present a design case for a prototype visualization tool called the Temporally Enabled Map for Presentation (TEMPO). Designed for use in the lecture classroom, TEMPO is an interactive animated map that addressed a common problem in military history: the shortcomings of traditional static (non-interactive, non-animated) maps. Static maps show spatial elements well, but cannot do more than approximate temporal events using multiple views, movement arrows, and the like. TEMPO provides a more complete view of past historical events by showing them from start to finish. In our design case we describe our development process, which included consultation with military history domain experts, classroom observations, application of techniques derived from visualization and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) literature and theory. Our design case shows how the design of an educational tool can motivate scholarly evaluation, and we describe how some theories were first embraced and then rejected as design circumstances required. Finally, we explore a future direction for TEMPO, tools to support creative interactions with visualizations where students or instructors can learn by visualizing historical events for themselves. A working version of the finished TEMPO artifact is included as an interactive element in this document.


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Prestopnik, N., & Foley, A. R. (2012). Visualizing the Past: The Design of a Temporally Enabled Map for Presentation (TEMPO). International Journal of Designs for Learning, 3(1).