3. Interactive Timelines

Here’s the Interactive Timelines learning interaction from my eBook, Engaging Interactions For eLearning:

Description: Create a timeline of events that a learner can navigate to find out about milestone dates or time periods.

If the learner clicks on a specific date or year, display events and content that apply to that timeframe. Content may include videos from that era, newspaper articles, etc.

The timeline can be as long or as short as you’d like, from days to centuries (depending on your content).

Example: Present a timeline of an organization’s history. This is a good way to teach important events and milestone dates to new employees. The employee can re-live the past first-hand by watching video and reading newspaper articles from the selected time period.
Level(s) of Interaction: 2
Knowledge Type(s): Factual

Let’s discuss this further…

I see this interaction being used two possible ways:

  1. Discovery mode
    The learner can explore a timeline of events and select when/where they want to view more information. Each milestone on the timeline reveals additional information in the form of a graphic, animation, or video.
  2. Task mode
    The learner is assigned a task or a mission where they must use a timeline to solve a puzzle (or a mystery). The task would require investigative skills; the learner would have to decipher clues based on the timeline and their knowledge of the subject.

Both modes have their advantages. Discovery mode is an easy way to present information for a time period or some type of a life-cycle. Task mode is more likely to be more engaging and effective, because it requires much more interaction and involvement on the learner’s part.

As with most interactions, the story is the main part that engages the learner. The timeline becomes yet another tool that supports the learning experience.


Here are a few examples…

  • Show a timeline of events of a crime. Have the learner work through clues to figure out who committed the crime and when/how it was committed. Have the clues reference time. (For example: The victim ordered a pizza at 7pm, but they didn’t answer the door when the pizza arrived at 8:05.)
  • Put the learner in the shoes of a time-traveling explorer. Have them collect a series of artifacts across time to solve a major puzzle or complete a mission.
  • Have the learner observe the growth of a city over time. Let them see the cause and effect of design and planning decisions on the environment. You may also consider giving the learner some control to affect decisions (think SimCity).

More Examples

Here are two examples of timelines:

What do you think? Would you use timelines? If so, how? Can you share examples?


4 Responses to “3. Interactive Timelines”

  1. 1 Rupa October 8, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Hi Schone,

    I liked the ideas of Discovery and Task Modes.

    Also the examples you have given are quite good.

    Looking forward to more valuable ideas from you


  2. 2 Rupa October 12, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Schone

    Have u seen the interactive timeline in Prof Karl Kapp’s site

    It is cool.


  3. 3 Robyn Pascoe October 25, 2007 at 5:04 am

    I use a Google Labs experimental search to allow computing students to view an Internet timeline. Link,(you’ll probably need to copy the link and paste in into the browser: http://www.google.com/views?q=Internet+view%3Atimeline&vwms=&vwme=&btnGt=Search&esrch=RefinementBarTopViewTabs

    You can perform any search in timeline view.

  1. 1 Engaging Interactions for E-learning - Interactive Timelines « Writers Gateway Trackback on October 8, 2007 at 7:35 am

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