Back-in-the-day, when I was still classroom teaching, one of the techniques I occasionally used was the Teaching Timeline, something I found particularly useful for Introductory Sociology (back when a “History of Sociological Thought” was mandatory) and, for some reason, Crime and Deviance.
For the latter I always found it useful to create a “Theory Timeline” that helped students understand when different criminological theories first appeared and, more-importantly, how they were connected to and influenced by each other.
A third type of Timeline – “Dead, White, European Men” – was one I used whenever I wanted to be a bit provocative and promote some discussion about whether or not sociology was basically just about the musings of the aforementioned White European Males who Are No-Longer-With-Us.
Usually on a Friday afternoon in the deep mid-winter.
For some reason.
The thinking behind Teaching Timelines was, somewhat unusually for me at this time, tied to the idea of anchorage. That is, an attempt to provide a structure for various ideas through a sense of time and place, such that students could understand how theories of crime, for example, developed, why and how they were criticised and what, if anything, came out of this process.
Back then, Teaching Timelines were created with pen and paper before being stuck to the wall (where they slid slowly and painfully to the floor, were ripped by carelessly passing bags and generally made to look a bit sad and dilapidated after a couple of months wear-and-tear). They were also, if I’m honest, a little-bit-crap in a “felt-tip pen plus a few stuck-on pictures” kind of way.
Right now, things are a little different because with something like Flippity you can create free, web-based, Timelines that incorporate text, graphics, pictures and video (or at least those hosted on YouTube – here’s a Sociology playlist and a Psychology playlist to get you started if you need it).
Creating A Timeline
Creating a Timeline is relatively simple – it’s just a matter of entering text – and any links to pictures and videos you want to incorporate – into a Google Docs template.
To do this you’ll need to have a (free) Google Docs account (you can create one here if you don’t have one already).
While Teaching Timelines can, of course, be your own personal creation it’s also possible to turn them into an active-learning, co-operative, exercise involving your students finding relevant text, images and videos for you to add to the final Timeline.
Or not, as the case may be.