Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

TimeToast

Simple timeline creator could use more features and options
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • To create a new timeline, just enter text, image, and a link to represent an event.
  • The landing page gives you an example, but that’s the extent of curated content.
  • Clicking on an event will reveal an enlarged entry in which the image is fully displayed.
  • Content divided by topic, popularity, and latest but not by quality.
  • Timeline shows change over time to the federal government but only displays three entries at once.
Pros
Simple tool lets kids make timelines that can teach them about sequence, growth, change, and effective visual communication.
Cons
Structure doesn't allow for much variation, while lack of curated content means you have to sift through others' often lackluster timelines to find gems.
Bottom Line
Some data will come alive in this tool, but kids might get bored with standardized format that doesn’t allow for creative innovation.
Victoria Gannon
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Kids will enjoy the novelty of visualizing data as timelines, but the tool’s narrow functions mean kids' continued interest depends on the content they choose to upload.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Learning potential lies with the user. Students could create a timeline of historical events or one that lists every birthday present they've ever been given. The site makes it easy to share timelines with other users.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Visual learners will get a lot out of seeing information presented as a timeline, though the tool offers only one method for creating content. Community support comes only in the form of FAQs and an invitation to report bugs.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Timetoast is a good tool for organizing information, and you can help students figure out the best kinds of data to enter into it. Stories that show dramatic developments over time will be the most vivid, whether they relate to global, local, or even personal histories. A timeline that tracks a steep climb in the stock market, the buildup and climax of a war, or the relocation of Native Americans will help students understand the way events progress and relate to each other. Personal stories could be just as dramatic and could provide an opportunity for self-reflection and self-awareness as students consider what counts as a milestone for them. They could chart significant events in their pet's life, their family history, or their growth in relation to a particular challenge, like a fear of heights.

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What's It Like?

Timetoast is simple: Create a profile and add events to make a timeline. Each event can include text, a photo, and a link. The result lets you see information as a sequence, offering insights on how things grow and change over time. Though the current layout prioritizes text over images, students can explore the balance between written and visual description and come up with their own recipe for illustrating events and their relationship to each other.

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Is It Good For Learning?

A timeline is only as good as the information it includes, and users are responsible for doing research and finding data that works well in this format. This can range from a timeline of Victorian novels to one that charts the different houses a person has lived in over the years. Suggestion: Don't attempt historical research using the site's collection of timelines; they're not vetted for accuracy.

Though easy to use, the site might be too simple for some kids. Once they've mastered the skill of uploading text, images, and links, they could get bored with the visually limited interface that doesn’t leave room for experimenting with different arrangements. Despite the number of events in a timespan, only three appear at a time, depending on where you scroll over. Users can navigate the site's thousands of timelines by subject (Music, Film, Science and Technology, Business, Politics, Biography, Art and Culture, Personal, and History), while a "featured" timeline exists on the landing page. However, site administrators miss an opportunity for engaging and directing users by not curating more content based on quality or educational value.

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