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just in time

May 6, 2015 by Robin Englebright   

I’ve seen timeline tools being used to great effect in a number of situations , but unfortunately they are all a bit of a palaver to set up, and in some situations are just too darn interactive.

We’ve been discussing how best to view assessment timings down here at the city campus, both for students, so they have a clear overview to help them manage their time effectively, and for staff, who are mainly focused on a modular delivery, to help appreciate the bigger picture.

For simplicity I’ve decided to have a look at what sort of timelines can be created by staff on a mac using standard office software. The output is a visualisation of a table of data, so whilst it would be good if it produced accessible output, it may be better to create an time ordered plain text version of the data to support screen reader use.

Excel templates

Microsoft offer some timeline templates which are fairly simple to use, but these are linked to Office365, and do require a Microsoft account for access.

Office timeline templates

However there are plenty of other templates available. The one below was from tidy form. It generates the timeline from data in a small table, and includes a label height setting so long tags don’t run together.

tidyform timeline template

Powerpoint Templates

A number of Powerpoint timeline templates utilise “SMART ART”, this one came from fppt.com 
The output is a little more flexible, but doesn’t build the chart automatically. This sort of chart displays the span of a time period more effectively than the previous example, but they could equally be tweaked to produce similar output.

powerpoint timeline template

Keynote templates

Keynote is pretty fantastic tool for laying out elements in an appealing way. I’ve always found the guides which allow centralised alignment really useful, and of course the export options are pretty comprehensive.

James Welch offers a keynote template which looks good, and is easy to edit.

Keynote  timeline template

 

What becomes apparent in creating these timelines is that having a good set of data upon which to build is invaluable.  Next step is to have a look at whether the information presented this way is any more clear for students.

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