Duration: < 30 min
Difficulty Level: Easy
Group Size: 20 - 100
Level of interaction: Low
Multilanguage fit: No
Preparation Time: Short
Purpose: Access and Motivation, Information Exchange
Type of Online Events: Corporate Town Hall, Virtual Conference, Webinar, Workshop

Visualizing the evolution of events and ideas

Timelines is a method to illustrate the progress of projects, programs, institutions, or ideas. They are traditionally used to visually represent multiple actions, milestones, and expectations within projects or programs.

Use this method to:

  • Visualize a series of events and identify interconnected milestones.
  • Activate prior learning or review previously learned concepts or events.
  • Make history interesting.
  • Present a new project and its different phases.

Steps to apply this method:


  1. Define the objective of the learning activity, the topic, and the subtopics underpinning it.
  2. Write a guideline with instructions for the learning activity.
    • Plan a dynamic for participants to work in small groups on several timelines simultaneously created either by the facilitator or generated by the groups - for larger groups (Variation 1), as a whole group in one timeline simultaneously - for a smaller group (Variation 2), or combined (Variation 3).
    • Write a set of questions or guidelines.
  3. Define the tool that you will use and familiarize yourself with its functionalities. 
  4. Design the online collaborative space according to the dynamic you have planned. For the timeline insert clear boundaries indicating where the timeline starts and where it ends. Insert clear markers between the start and endpoints of each event.
    • Enrich the design of the timeline(s) by adding thumbnail images, videos, and audio clips.


  1. Brief the participants and explain the purpose of the learning activity.
    • Introduce the topic that will be explored, and explain whether participants will be working following Variations 1, 2, or 3.
    • Present the questions or guidelines.
    • Explain the markers and boundaries in the timeline. For instance, in years, in project phases, in year seasons, etc.
    • Present the tool that will be used for the session. Note: Allocate time in your session for participants to experiment with the selected tool if required.
  2. Explain the procedure of the learning activity:
    • Show the previously designed space without zooming into the content, and explain how participants will work:
    Variation 1: Participants in groups work on several timelines simultaneously. The timelines are either created by the facilitator in advance or generated by the small groups during the session. 
    • Each group will have a certain amount of time per timeline to contribute in writing by following the questions or guidelines.
    • All participants gather in the main room to debrief on their work. Repeat rounds as required 
    Variation 2: All participants simultaneously work on the timeline and go through the markers or events with the facilitator. 
    • Participants contribute with ideas to various aspects within the timeline.
    • All participants gather in the main room to debrief on their work. Repeat rounds as required.
    Variation 3: The session combines phases with Variations 1 and 2. 
    • Participants contribute in any place in the timeline guided by a question.
    • All participants gather in the main room to discuss first impressions.
    • Participants are distributed into small groups (randomly or by participants’ topic of preference) and assigned to work on specific parts of the timeline or even generate a new one. 
    • All participants gather in the main room to debrief on their work.
    • For all variations: Participants gather in the main room to debrief on their work on the timelines(s) 
  3. Invite them to start exploring and contributing. Note: Check on your participants during the learning activity.
  4. Complete the learning activity. For all variations:
    • Debrief on the learning activity following a participatory discussion format. If time is limited, summarize the ideas and share them with your participants.

Timelines can be adapted for reflection on trends, parallel developments, correspondence between events, and strategic planning.

Tool Tips

Facilitator tips

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