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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

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Melissa's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you for the idea. I am going to go and research it now. I am looking forward to it.

Ceil Fahrman's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I can see me using Timelines 2.0 to create a timeline of the chemical discoveries; atomic theory, quantum theory, periodic table, etc. I do not have time to cover a lot of history in class (SOL "timeline"). As an assignment, my students will have to view the timeline and comment.

CJElder's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I practiced making a timeline on the xtimeline site and it's very easy to work with. I liked the resulting timeline and I think this will be a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom. I also searched some of the timelines that were already created, and was impressed with what can be done using this tool.

Beth's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that timelines are a great addition to any curriculum. I have seen them being used for students' autobiographical information as well as in history class for certain events.

Does anyone else have any ideas in their curricular content where timelines could be used|?

Molly H.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for the website. I have my students pick biographies to read and this will be a fun website for them to look at in conjunction with their other reading.

TammyO's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I just explored this site and was impressed. I think it would be useful for students to use to plot the events from books they read, to use when writing biographies or autobiographies, to compliment a book report on a biography, and many other uses.

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