I got an email from an industrious kid. He was a high school student preparing a history project (building a historical timeline) and he wrote to us asking if we would give him and his classmates the premium edition of our timeline maker software. Good for him. He said they were struggling to build timeline templates because his school’s Gantt chart tool was “complicated and ugly.” I wrote to him and he responded that they needed something that was more graphical, template driven, easier to use and something that could be presented in a simple way. It got me thinking of the value of timeline makers and timeline templates as education tools.
I was interested because I had just recently done bit of family history homework on a timeline. My family seems to have moved around over the past couple centuries, and there were some diligent family historians recording this along the way. So I had a pretty good log of when and where my ancestors were. I turned this information into a timeline and found it to be a really cool visual tool for understanding my origins. Plotting my ancestor’s history in timeline maker had me simultaneously thinking about the events and circumstances of their day. So then I plotted the significant historical events of the time on top of my family’s timeline template, and that was very educational.
Correlating the major historical events with my ancestor’s timeline made learning history personal. I spent time researching each event as I was entering it into the timeline maker. The tool rendered all of this into a beautiful, visual PowerPoint slide, which I shared with my siblings, cousins and parents. They loved it because it was very visual, therefore easy for them to consume and digest. I think the high school kid got this (smart kid) and that is why he wanted our timeline maker.
Since my experience of learning was richer with a graphical timeline maker, I assumed I would see plenty of educators in our database. I ran some queries to check this and can confirm there has been considerable use of Office Timeline by educators, academics and historians. Much like my experience and the high school kid’s, these folks also understand that engaging their audiences in a visual way creates a more effective learning environment. (Side note: We get frequent comments on the historical date feature in our timeline maker – see the Building Historical Timelines post).
There also has been significant usage by students. I corresponded with a few of them and it turns out they are using it to make timeline templates across every subject imaginable. For example political science timelines, historical timelines, science project timelines, one on the history of manuscripts, one on reducing lighting consumption of a corridor, financial forecasting timelines, and even a timeline template that plotted the important milestones of a multi-national corporation.
The net is that graphical timeline slides can be an interesting way to supplement learning and a timeline maker or timeline templates can be powerful teaching tools.
Office Timeline is a free timeline maker add-in for PowerPoint.
Once installed, students and teachers use intuitive wizards to easily create timelines or curriculum plans in a few simple steps. First select the type of timeline style or template you want to build.
Next enter data, make a few style choices on shapes and colors and then click the Green Check button when done. Your timeline is instantly built in PowerPoint and it can be shared with and edited by any PowerPoint user or pasted as a image in documents, on websites or other materials. Also your timeline can easily be changed, updated, or edited automatically at any time.
The short video below shows how it works and you can download Office Timeline Free edition from www.OfficeTimeline.com
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