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Time to start using timelines

I recently read an article in a Guardian interview with Dan Snow who was essentially promoting his timeline app as well as the use of technology in the classroom. He is a staunch supporter of a digital approach in the classroom and is clearly well able to see the advantages of using it.  His app looks very good too.  However, I'm not here to assess that app but the article reminded me of my timeline app that I downloaded at the start of the summer holidays and never really explored. Well, finally, a few weeks later, I have created my own timeline to use with my classes using the Timeline 3D app available on iTunes for use on iPhone or iPad. 

As a French teacher it felt appropriate to create a timeline that I could use with my Year 12s and 13s so that they could understand, what is for them, a complicated collection of facts and dates from the start of WWII.  My focus, in particular, was occupied France.  Below is a 2D picture of the timeline I created for 1940. 

The layout is clear and after a little play and experimentation was easy to put together.  Of course, I could have simply printed out a timeline from a book or the internet but the glory of this timeline is its interactivity and the ability to insert media such as pictures, links or video footage. As you can see from this timeline, it is also possible to add notes and dates (the latter in international format).
As you move along the timeline, clicking either on the arrows or on the 'event' (which is the name for each new addition on the timeline) the timeline moves and becomes 3D as the picture below demonstrates. 

With a click of the eye symbol in the bottom right hand corner of the screen it is possible to get a full screen size view of the image or start the video footage.  For my students, the ability to have some news reel from the time will help them remember the facts more readily. 

Putting my timeline together took under an hour and I know that at my next attempt (and there will be one) the process will be much quicker.  I can see myself using this to present information for all year groups and more importantly I can see my pupils using the timeline themselves.  For instance there are gaps in this timeline which can be filled by my students.  Alternatively, they can build on the information presented here and look at the events from 1941 and beyond.  With KS3 or 4 I can see pupils creating a presentation about their hometown using the timeline more loosely to talk about the past, present and future.  There are a number of options available for all subject areas: why not create a timeline for the events of a novel, or the history of volcano activity of Mount Etna, for example.

There is much potential in this tool and I am looking forward to using it.  Options for sharing are shown below.

Naturally, in exporting as a document you lose the interactivity.  I will mirror the image on my screen in class or share it via dropbox for students to open on their own timelines apps.

Do you know of a similar tool?  Have you used this tool successfully in your class?  Let me know in the comments box below.  I would welcome your thoughts and ideas.


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