Web based timeline software can be used as a tool for accomplishing many things. It can be used for organizing and planning and can be a platform for collaborative work.
In the classroom, web-based timelines can be used as presentation software. Unlike Power Point type presentations, the creator and the audience can see the entire presentation organized in outline-form in one view. Points on the timeline can be “clicked-on” to link viewers to text, videos or images. Some timeline software allows for multiple, categorized timelines to exist in one view.
Creating such presentations could support students in organizing, comparing/contrasting, making connections, and seeing patterns. Here is an example of a unit that incorporates timeline software.
Some Links to Examples and Info
Here are some timeline programs that are simple to use (and free)
This one is more complex, less free, allows for multiple embedded timelines, and is really cool.
Here is a link that gives many lesson plan examples using timeline software.
Activity Types for Timelines
Viewing Presentations/ Present: Timelines can be used to present complex information in an organized way- whether student or teacher created.
Discuss/ Debate : Interactive collaborative timelines could be used as a platform for ongoing discussion much like a blog.
Sequencing Information: This seems the most obvious use and supports students in constructing understanding from multiple pieces of information.
Considerations for Scaffolding this Technology
The primary consideration will be choosing and learning how to use a specific timeline software package. The software should not be too complex, but still be a useful and engaging tool. Obviously the teacher needs to learn it well in order to teach students. The learning goals and planned activities in a particular unit should help teachers decide what qualities and features are most important while choosing a program.
Student prior knowledge of and work with traditional timelines is another scaffolding consideration. If students don’t have a clear idea about what timelines are and how they are used, they may be quickly overwhelmed by an interactive and dynamic timeline. Teachers might consider pre-assessing students’ timeline knowledge and scaffolding with mini-lessons or examples as appropriate.