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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Timelines 2.0: A Fun, Easy, and Free Classroom Tool

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

Timelines are one of the most useful and effective tools I've found that can fit in nicely with any classroom's content area and grade level. They are fantastic vehicles for doing research, being creative, and sharing and publishing information.

In addition, they are easy to use for simple classroom projects such as tracking birthdays, major significant events, and holidays. Furthermore, they offer a rich opportunity to explore the goings-on behind significant events, allowing students to uncover what led up to wars, significant scientific breakthroughs, changes in culture, or shifts in art styles and music. The possibilities are endless.

A fantastic new timeline tool I've been playing with is xtimeline. This free Web-based tool makes it simple to create timelines, and it has built-in capabilities that allow you to conduct research, embed photos and videos, do group editing, and engage in social collaboration.

Imagine combining the power of a traditional timeline tool with the history and edit features of a wiki while making it a social, globally published, living online document. It doesn't get much simpler, or more effective, than this.

Getting started is easy. Just register, log in, and hit Create. Fill in the basic information for your new timeline, then click the next Create button. From there, it's simply a matter of adding your events. You can customize each event with data, images, embedded videos, links to source information, and so on.

Each timeline has a discussion section, so a class can debate certain topics, justify the order of events or their significance, and share more details and suggestions. Users can also embed the timelines into blogs, discussion forums, and emails.

To make things even more classroom friendly, you can set timelines so only selected users can view and discuss them. You can create groups as well, and you can set up a timeline in such a way that anyone can view it, but only invited users can edit and discuss it.

I am having a blast with these timelines, and my daughter is already creating one about her life that makes use of photos and videos. I think this tool is going to be hugely popular in classrooms as teachers begin to notice it. Please share with us what you think. Create a sample timeline and post it here. How would you use this tool in your classroom? How about personally?

While you're exploring, be sure to check out a timeline called Significant Persons of the Renaissance. I find this timeline to be especially well done, with a nice combination of research, images, and well-written details.

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger
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Comments (36)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Judy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Student use? --The user agreement says you must be 13 years old to use it or did I misunderstand? I love it but trying to figure out how to have them do it is what I am trying to figure out do you log in for them?

AHarris's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hey Chris! As always you do such a great job finding cool tools for us to use in our schools with our students and teachers. I love this xtimeline! I just finished training with a teacher and her class at our middle school on using excel for timelines and how to insert pics, video links, etc. Now I can share this cool tool to expand upon that! The students will love it and so will the teacher. This will also be a great way for students to showcase to their parents at home what they are learning at school. Thanks so much! :-)

Dee's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am having the same problem with the age restriction. I teach 6th graders....do you use just one account that you, the teacher, has set up? Can multiple users be on this account at one time?

Judy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

student use--yes multiple kids can use same account I tried it yesterday.

Lauren's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your support of xtimeline! It's been wonderful reading about all these creative ideas you have for using xtimeline in the classroom. The next timeline that I'm planning to create is to chart out my memoir writing project. I've also found it fun to just take 5 minutes each day to learn about a new topic on the site, like the biography of the Dalai Lama and the History of Tibet given the protests recently.

We still have lots of improvements that we will continue to work on for the website, like making the timeline widget more flexible for embedding on other websites, amongst others. Let me know if you have other feedback or ideas. I look forward to seeing the timelines that you and your students create.

Finally, please help us spread the word and tell your friends, family and other educators about xtimeline!

Best,
Lauren

Co-founder, xtimeline.com

Lisa e's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I should have known there was a tool for timelines! I do many student projects that involve construction of timelines. This website will help my students and I to take our timelines to the next level. A level of quality work and work that shows a greater level of understanding. thank you for the reference to this site!

Jermaine's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Also take a look a TimeRime.com. Another great tool to make timelines for educational purposes.

Allen Grant's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I like xtimeline, but I think I am missing something here. I can only view the first part of a timeline. How do I scroll to the rest? Is there a plugin I need? Thanks for any help you may have. The support on the site does not address it.

Thanks!

Allen Grant
Lousiana Virtual School 9-12
Louisiana State University

Cathy B's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach 6th grade ancient history and this website is going to be great for my students and myself. It is easy to use. I will have to try the website out at school. I hope there are not any problems with students obtaining access to the website.

LaurenK's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Allen,

To scroll and view the whole timeline, just click on the green round button underneath the timeline and drag it across.

Best,
Lauren
Co-Founder, xtimeline
www.xtimeline.com

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