Online Timeline Makers for TEFL

Timelines: the age-old tool of the TEFL classroom. Quick to create and effective for student understanding.

Now Timeline makers have gone 2.0 and interactive. Superb for using in your own Teaching English blogs. Plus they could be really cool for homework tasks.

All these timelines below are free to use! …otherwise I wouldn’t be recommending them! We’re all teachers, right? 🙂

Small event timeframes

The best thing about timelines is that your spacing can go from 1000 years to half an hour. This is excellent for grammar explanations, where you can set different events overlapping during the course of a day. The other timeline makers below can’t focus in on such a small timeframe as 30 mins. This is a huge advantage for dipity in my view.

Events with comments

I like the best because you can add images to each ‘event’ on your timeline and when viewers click on these, they can read a description AND also leave comments on that particular event – pretty cool. Each comment has sharing options too – you don’t have to share the entire timeline, you can just put a particular event up on your Facebook, twitter or whatever.
You could make a timeline and set students the task of commenting on it for homework.

Looks great & user-friendly

Overall, dipity just looks good: the background shading, the scroll-over highlighting of events and the layout all work for me. It’s very user friendly too in that you can see the 2.0 sharing options very easily and you really don’t need instructions to play around with a timeline.

Check out this timeline about Steve Jobs life:

Events descriptions

On you’ve got a similar idea to dipity. Create your timeline, add events with images and descriptions. The smallest timeframe you can go down to for events is 1 day though… not the half hour events of dipity.

It’s kind of cool the way that when you drag over an event ‘dot’, the description bubble appears, but I think timetoast has got some way to go to look as impressive as dipity, don’t you agree?

Here’s a timetoast on the history of music videos.

I used this timeline generator to aid a grammar explanation in a blog (which I am also going to use as lesson materials) in let’s say a “cooler” way, then just drawing out a timeline on paper and making a jpeg from it.

Images & SOUND is all about the look! It’s all about images and with the ability to add music to your timeline this can be quite impressive. Check out this Iron Man 2 presentation (unfortunately the creator wouldn’t let me embed it here). It’s got the WOW factor!
And here’s one about TRON

Imagine how some of your students could really get into this. I can really see some of the teenage boys that I’ve taught who were not particularly into learning coming alive with a homework task like this based on whatever their real interests.passions are.

What I don’t like about capzles is that when you click on an image, you have to click again on the ‘Details button’ to see the written description. OK, yes it’s got all the sharing options, but probably for in-class use it might better suit a spoken task, where students talk you through their timeline.

This could be great for setting a collaborative group task on pretty much anything that your imagination can stretch to – google images is the God for content here! 🙂


Bren Brennan

About Bren Brennan

Bren initially trained here at SGI and then joined the staff in 2005. Since 2006, he has taught abroad in Budapest, Berlin and now at Mondragon University in Spain. He returns to teach at SGI London every summer and completed the SGI Trinity DipTESOL in 2011. He also regularly writes posts for students here.
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