How can I use this tool in class?
a. Students should each spend 10-15 minutes reading through various essay plans. Particularly convincing essay plans should be COPIED and PASTED into a Word Processor.
b. Then, students spend a further 5 minutes settling upon their favourite essay plan. The others should be deleted.
c. Students then take it in turns to draw up their essay plan as a flowchart on the whiteboard. The class should discuss and compare the approaches.
What are its limitations?
The tool is very good at showing how factors can be linked in a myriad of ways - but it can only ever be a starting point. How these points are developed, explained and expanded with evidence and historiography is down to the individual student.
How does it work?
The computer shuffles the various factors as a pack. It then deals out the first two and connects them using a database of possible links. It then takes the third factor and connects it to one of the previous two. It then takes the fourth and connects it to one of the existing three, and so on. Then, the computer re-orders the linkage into the most logical and fluent format and presents you with an essay plan!
Why is the character called "AJP Sailor"?
AJP Taylor was a famous historian famous for turning many "accepted" theories on their head (and, as a result, my favourite historian!). He was infuriating, engaging and puzzling by turns: but he could always be relied upon to come up with an original idea and an arresting argument. It's his flexibility of thought and openness to new ideas which made him an ideal role-model for this particular activity!