Create Your Own Interactive Timeline
An effective way of creating learner orientated revision materials over the course of a scheme of work is for pupils to develop their own Interactive Timeline.
In much the same way as a learning journal records the ‘what has been learnt’ an Interactive Timeline can be added to, annotated and made appealing through the addition of photographs, video footage or audio files.
My first ‘real’ use of this method was some ten years ago with a Year 9 class. As part of their study we built aninteractive timeline of the First World War that covered a variety of themes. Whilst I’m still very happy with the results of that use of a timeline, it had many drawbacks. It took a lot of time, was only really possible in lessons because of the high level of proficiency of one or two pupils in terms of web design and use of Flash and it often led to other aspects of learning having to take a bit of a back seat to ensure the timeline project was finished. It was great in terms of the depth that the youngsters went into, but not really a practical solution for all classes.
There are plenty of other ways of creating Interactive Timelines. Some require lots of ICT skills and are very much cross over projects that cater as much for Computer Science as they do for History (which was an objective for the above project). In reality though what is needed is something that needs just a little bit of direction, reminders from teachers for pupils to update their timeline and occasional prompts to add key dates / events into their timelines.
Granted, this could be done in a learning journal or a word document but most pupils will find a text driven timeline pretty dull. Adding the ability to insert video – be that video they’ve sourced or a clip they have produced themselves – audio and images allows for all sorts to be included. A mind map on the rise of the nazi’s could, for example, be scanned and added to an appropriate date; photographs of model castles could be inserted to demonstrate changing designs over time etc…
It may sound fairly complicated but there are online tools that make this incredibly simple. For example, here is anInteractive Timeline of the Weimar Republic. It’s simple but effective. The site that powers this particular example allows for video, images and audio to be added. So over the course of a development study, or study in depth, a learner could add key facts, names etc, tag them to the correct date and select or create audio-visual materials to go alongside each event. So log as the learner remembers his / her username and password they can then go back to the Interactive Timeline and update it as and when required.
Result? Well I haven’t tested the theory yet but I would imagine that more diligent learners would end up with an Interactive Timeline that was a feast of information, laden with useful revision materials and suited to their own learning / revision preferences.