Best Timeline Creation Tools for Teachers and Students

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The ability to create and share timelines is a key skill for teachers. Timelines capture and present information in a visual format that facilitate understanding and enhances retention. A timeline, as ReadWriteThink defines it, is 'a graphical representation of related items or events in sequential order and displayed along a line'.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

There are various ways to integrate timelines in your teaching, from teaching important historical events, telling a narrative story, visualizing chronological development of a phenomena, to showcasing the evolutionary process of a historical figure, the possibilities of using timelines with your students are endless.

The collection below features some helpful tools teachers and students can use to create various types of timelines.  All of these tools are are simple and easy to use, no technical knowledge is required. 

1. Canva

Canva, a leading visual design platform, offers numerous professionally designed timeline templates that you can use in your own teaching/learning. Templates are fully customizable and you can edit them the way you want. Simply type in 'Timeline' in the search box in Canva homepage and browse the feature titles. Click on any template to open it in Canva editor where you can add your own edits. 

For instance, you can change text font and style, add images, shapes, animations, and more. When your timeline is ready you can share it online or download it in different formats including JPG, PNG, GIF, or PDF. To learn more about Canva check out Canva Full Guide for Teachers.

2. Timeline Student Interactive

Timeline Student Interactive  from ReadWriteThink is another simple and easy to use tool designed specifically to help students create beautiful learning timelines.  The way this tool works is simple: start by typing the name of your project then click anywhere on the timeline to add labels and descriptions. You can also drag and drop images right into your timeline. When done click to save it to your computer, export it as PDF, or print it.

3. Timeline JS

TimelineJS allows you to easily design interactive timelines to use in your instruction. The way TimelineJS works is simple: First create a Google Spreadsheet using the template provided. Customize the timeline the way you want. Add your data for each slide. Rows in the spread represent events in the timeline. 

You can add various media to your spreadsheet including videos, audio, images, Tweets, GoogleMaps, and more. When your spreadsheet is ready publish it to the web. Next, copy the URL of the spreadsheet and paste it in TimelineJS to generate your timeline. Preview your timeline and when you are done share it with others using a generated embed code. 

4. TikiToki


TikiToki is a web tool that enables you to create interactive multimedia timelines including 3D timelines that can be shared anywhere online. TikiToki timelines can include various materials such as videos (e.g., YouTube and Vimeo), images, text, and more. TiToki's account allows you to create customizable timelines but comes with numerous limits. 

Tikitok


For instance, 'you can't create more than one timeline. You can't add more than 200 stories. You can't embed a timeline on your blog or website. You can't group edit a timeline. And you can't upload images for hosting on our servers. To take advantage of these great features, you will need to upgrade to TikiToki' s Bronze, Silver or Teacher (only available to teachers) accounts.'

5. Office Timeline

You can use Office Timeline tool to create beautiful PowerPoint timelines. Office Timeline is available both as an add-in to use directly in Microsoft PowerPoint or as an online application that works from any browser. You can start designing your timeline from scratch or use one of the pre-made templates. You can insert different media resources and invite collaborators and team members to help with editing the timeline. When you are done share your final product with others or download it as native PowerPoint slides.

Office Timeline is not free. Depending on what type of subscription you want, Office Timeline offers different pricing plans. Some of the general features provided by Office Timeline include: show milestones on tasks, assign tasks to team members, import data from Excel and Project, drag and drop updating, export data as XLSX, save as PPT and PNG, and more. 

6. Timetoast

Timetoast enables you to create interactive timelines that work on any device and are easy to update online. Some of the features provided by Timetoast include the ability to add timeline events or multi-date timespans, automatically have your timeline events placed on the appropriate timescale, zoom and pan your timeline, upload images, 'add historical events with BCE dates, year-only dates, as well as timeline dates with a specific month and day', and more.


Timeline creation tool


Collaboration is another great feature provided by Timetoast. Users can grant either group or individual access to their created timelines. They can also invite new or existing Timetoast members to their groups, and more. Created timelines can be shared using various options: publish them online, embed them on your websites or blog, shared them to social media, or print them out.

7. Preceden

Preceden's interactive timeline maker allows you to easily create, collaborate on, and share timelines with others. You can start with a blank slate and build your timeline from scratch or use Preceden's professional templates. Some of the features supported by this tool include milestones, bulk editing, collaboration, percent complete, and more. When your timeline is ready, Preceden offers different sharing options. 'You can share your timeline using a link, PDF, image, HTML embed, PowerPoint or Keynote export, spreadsheet, presentation mode, and more.'

The free Preceden plan is limited and offers only one timeline and 10 events. To unlock more features you need to upgrade to Basic plan ($12/month) or Pro plan ($20/month). Basic offers only 3 timelines and unlimited events. The pro plan offers unlimited timelines and events.