Name of Tool:  Timetoast

URL:  http://www.timetoast.com

Type of Tool:  productivity tool

Description:  Timetoast is a free Web 2.0 tool which allows its users to create interactive timelines online!  All that is required to sign up for this tool is a valid email address or a Facebook account, which will be used  in order to create a log in for the web page.  Once registered and logged in the tool is easy to use.  The user starts with a blank timeline, and simply adds new events to their timeline.  Each event is given a title, date, and adds short summary for the reader.  The tool also allows users to upload images into their timeline in order to not only inform its readers with words, but also to give its readers a visual representation of the event on their timeline.   Once timelines are created, users can print their timelines, share their timelines online, publish their completed works on the timetoast website, or embed their creation onto Twitter, blogs, or any other web based social network.

What do you need to know to use this tool?:  Basic computer skills are needed in order to operate the tool.  And since this tool allows you to upload images into your timeline you need a basic knowledge of how to upload those images from your computers hard drive, digital camera, or mobile device.

What resources do you need?:  The site requires an email address in order to sign up for the free tool, as well as for log in purposes.  The site also states that you need Adobe Flash in order to create and view the timelines.

How to use the tool:

  1. First the user must go to http://www.timetoast.com, and click on the orange “Sign Up” button in the middle of the page.
  2. Once the user arrives on the sign up page, the user can either enter their email address, user name, and create a password, or they can use their Facebook log in information in order to create an account.
  3. After agreeing to the terms and conditions of the site and clicking sign up, a confirmation email will be sent to you.  Click on the link in the email, sign in to timetoast, and your ready to start creating interactive timelines!
  4. In order to create a new timeline, click on the “create new timeline” link in the blue box.
  5. You will be prompted to give your timeline a title, given the option to upload an image for the timeline, as well as assigning a category (kind of like a tag) to your timeline, based on what the timeline will contain (history, art, science, etc).  After the information has been entered click on “Go”.
  6. Once you have arrived at your blank timeline you can start adding events.  To add an event click on “Add Event”.  A pop up bubble of sorts will appear asking you to give your event a title, a date, and an optional description of the event.  You can also upload an image for the event at this time.  Timetoast allows users to create a library of images to use in their timelines.  Hit “Create Event” and a black dot with your event in a white bubble will appear on your time line.
  7. If you wish to edit your event, click on the plus sign in the white bubble and you will be able to edit any aspect of that event, or even delete that event.
  8. After you have finished adding your events to your timeline you can select “View Timeline” on the bottom left hand corner of the page in order to preview your timeline.
  9. If you wish to view the description of your event then click on the white bubble, which will then expand and show the description of the event you entered.
  10. If you are happy with the timeline, then you click on the “change here” link (which is written in blue).
  11. You will be directed to a page which will show all of the timelines you have created.  If the timeline is unpublished the it will be under the heading of “Draft”.  If a timeline has been published then it will appear under the heading of “Published”.  If you need to make a change to your timeline, then select “Edit”.  Don’t like your timeline?  You can delete it.  If you do like it then you can select the “Publish”.  Once you select “Publish” that timeline will move under the “Published” heading.
  12. If you wish to embed your newly published timeline, you must click on the timeline to view it.  Once you come to your timeline you will see links at the bottom of it to.  There are links to share/embed, to add your timeline to Facebook or Twitter, or to bookmark the timeline.

Possible uses for this tool: An obvious  use of this tool would be to create a timeline of events from a particular time period, or war in order to use as an instructional aide in class.  However I would take that idea and manipulate it a bit.  I would create a timeline and give the events and dates, however instead of me writing a summary for each event, I would instruct my students to write their own summary for each event.  It utilizes the tool, but also engages the student in the lesson.

Now this tool has infinitely usefulness in a history class, however this tool can be incorporated into other content areas.  Below are some ideas of how to use timetoast in a not traditional (as in history class) way.

  • students, teachers, schools, companies, or professionals can utilize timetoast in order to help organize their schedules for the upcoming week, month, or even year
  • chronicling a characters progression through a novel
  • showing the evolution of musical instruments, music, art, etc
  • progressions of scientific theory

Advantages:

  • allows you to share and embed timelines, and users can publish their timelines on the timetoast website so that others can view their timeline
  • users can use their Facebook log in information in order to set up an account and log in on the site
  • users can upload images into their timelines
  • the site allows its users to print their timelines
  • post timelines, and follow others timelines on Twitter or Facebook
  • able to edit the timeline even after it is published
  • bilingual capabilities (English and Spanish)

Disadvantages:

  • users can not create timelines in the BC era
  • requires an email address and email confirmation to register for the tool, and most school districts don’t allow students to access their personal email accounts from school
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