Create Active Learning with Timelines


Timelines allow topics to be examined visually by graphically organizing and showcasing events. They allow for storytelling through a chronological narrative. Additionally, creating timelines requires students to determine the purpose and criteria for ordering, and can help students analyze the steps in a procedure according to cause-and-effect relationships.

Creating a timeline can help students to accomplish Bloom’s applying level learning activities, aiding them in any implementation and execution of a plan. Even in the simplest form, putting events in sequence falls into the lower order understanding or remembering levels, but timelines can help learners hit those higher order thinking skills, as well. They can analyze by determining relationships, evaluate by establishing why certain events unfolded the way they did, and consider what, if anything, could have been done differently. Learners can synthesize by exploring how an outcome would be different if the events had happened in a different order, or extrapolate what might happen next in the sequence, creating new outcomes.

There are many tools QM members use to help their learners build timelines. Here’s a look at some of the most recommended ones:

  • TimelineJS: This popular tool from Northwestern University Knight Lab allows you to create your own timeline in just four easy steps. Plus, it’s available in over sixty languages!
  • Sutori: Create timelines in just minutes with this free, easy-to-use resource that also makes sharing your timelines a snap.
  • myHistro: Combine maps and timelines to create unique presentations that tell your story. Or, choose to view one of hundreds of professional historical timelines in the archives.
  • OurStory: Capture life’s memories and moments with this tool that acts as an internet time machine.
  • SmartDraw: Dozens of templates to choose from, SmartDraw makes creating timelines simple.
  • TimeGlider: Start creating history with this tool that allows you to create and publish interactive timeline.
  • TimeToast: Creating timelines is as easy as making toast with this tool that allows you to create beautiful, interactive timelines.
  • Read Write Think Interactive Timeline: Designed with students in mind, this timeline maker allows students to organize and present events and process in a variety of ways.
  • Use what you already have: Applications like Google Drawing and Microsoft PowerPoint have built-in tools that allow you to create colorful, professional timelines in minutes.

Do you have a go-to source for creating timelines? Help build up our list of resources by sharing. Share it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Be sure to tag us at @QMProgram so we can pass your resource along!