Tools for Learning: xTimeline

Web 2.0: xTimeline

xTimeline beta



Recommended Audience:
College and above. High school with teacher oversight.

What it does:
xTimeline is a multimedia timeline editor that allows wiki-style collaborative editing. It makes it easy to embed pictures and videos, and can generate a timeline from an RSS feed. Interactive displays, easy browsing, editing, commenting. Add a time datapoint, and then enrich it with details including media and detailed commentary or excerpts. Entry form for time-point encourages entering substantial metadata. Allows groups, comments, discussion, favoriting.

Tech Requirements:
Web browser, internet connection faster than dialup, Flash.

Privacy / Security:
Requires an account to create or edit timelines. Allows users to set timesline to private. Can invite other editors, share with a group, allow public viewing, and public editing.
Privacy Policy

Strengths for Education:
Novel and engaging way to support in-class presentations or small group reports. Promotes collaboration. Can support critical thinking through editing and discussion of selected time/data points and supporting resources.

Requires use of real dates. While use of Flash is common, some secured environments block Flash or consider it a risk. It would be helpful if xTimeline included warnings or reminders about use of copyrighted material and resources or encouragement for use of Creative Commons media.

Ideas for Educational Use:

(1) Epidemiology Small Group Project.
Track disease outbreak in a community. Have group divide up tracking significant events from when public health concern developed backward to the first known case appearance. Track the epidemiological process forward from awareness of issue through steps to discover origins. Include images, evidence, data, citations.

(2) Patient Case Report.
Use timeline to support interactive presentation of case report. Using fictionalized dates/times, present patient history, significant symptoms, disease progressing. Include pathology images; audio of heart sounds / breath sounds as relevant; video of gait analysis or movement or simulated patient/family interview. Suitable for either individual or small group project.

(3) Model Professional Development Exercise
Have students collaborate on developing and presenting professional ethics question or other controversial issue interactively via timeline with embedded multimedia clarifying aspects of the question. Ask other students to comment on choice or selection of data points. Could do this as a debate – ask one group to prepare timeline in support (Pros) and another against (Cons).

Joyce Valenza. Timelining (A 2.0 approach). School Library Journal.


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