Innovation: Education

3 tools for interactive timelines

Find new uses for data visualization

3 tools for interactive timelinesFree, online timeline tools allow students to break free of the traditional two-dimensional timeline and create highly customizable multimedia projects to showcase research, serve as digital portfolios, manage projects, guide gallery walks or form study guides.

And yes, they can also be used for book reports.

 1. myHistro

myHistro lets students embed timelines in a Google Map and add personally relevant content to each stop on the tour. One-button publishing animates the timelines, as well as providing an option to replay timelines as quizzes.

myHistro as:

Works on Chromebooks, laptops, desktops (browser version) as well as having a free iOS app version and an Edmodo plugin. While there are only a few types of media that can be embedded at each stop on the myHistro tour, this can be used as a great impetus to encourage students’ writing skills.

Check out this guide to myHistro for history teachers looking to incorporate it in their curriculums:

2. Timeline JS

This timeline tool derives its power from the myriad of shareable online media that can showcase student curiosity. Add YouTube and Vimeo videos, tweets, Vines, flickr photos, Soundcloud audio and website previews to a side-scrolling timeline. For projects that have a strong chronological narrative (as opposed to a geographical or artistic one), this is the go-to tool.

The best part? Super-low bar to entry: have students create a Google spreadsheet of entries and share the spreadsheet’s url with Timeline JS, then customize the result with multimedia. Spend time on content, not troubleshooting.

Some examples:

Timeline JS is also open-source, so if you have students who are interested in modifying or improving the code, they can join the online community of JSON developers working on making the tool even better.

Richard Byrne (@freetech4teachers) created this guide to creating your first interactive Timeline JS:

3. Dipity

The new speed of data involved in current events can now be harnessed with Dipity, which allows you to create timelines that capture RSS feeds. This way your students can create and use timelines as constantly updated visual reference guides to ongoing media events.

Check out this Dipity of Hurricane Irene:

Dipity timelines are searchable and can also be viewed as flipbooks, lists or maps, and can be embedded in webpages, making them easily archivable for online digital portfolios. Check out Dave Jones’ career with Cardiff City, this review of NASA shuttle launches and a history of the wheel.

How will your students use multimedia timelines?

Author

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs.

Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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