Company: Tom Snyder Productions, 100 Talcott Ave., Watertown, MA 02472. Phone: (800) 342-0236; Internet: www.tomsnyder.com.
Price: $99—single computer. $450—five computers. $650—10 computers. $1,050—30 computers. $2,600—Unlimited site license. Additional education pricing options are available.
Audience: Publisher recommends K–12; reviewer recommends grades 5–12.
Format: Mac/Win CD-ROM with teacher take-home rights, 56-page Getting Started Guide, Quick Reference tent card.
Minimum System Requirements:
Windows systems: Intel Pentium 1 GHz and Microsoft Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4/Windows XP with Service Pack 2/Windows Vista (Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise).
Macintosh systems: PowerPC G4 1 GHz or Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz and Mac OS X v10.4.9/10.4.11/10.5.1/10.5.3.
For both: 512MB RAM (1 GB recommended for the use of very large multimedia files), 16-bit color monitor with 1024x768 resolution, CD-ROM drive (for installation only), internet access for built-in browser access mode, and printer.
Description: Timeliner XE allows students to gather and organize research data into visual multimedia diagrams including timelines, sequences, and cycles. The program provides a built-in browser; the ability to create various styles of timelines, sequences, and cycles; templates for a variety of visual diagrams; and a multimedia library of files to enhance the diagrams.
Overall Rating: *****
Ease of Use A
Product Support A
Installation: The program is installed via a CD-ROM with on-screen installation instructions. The installation will also load Adobe AIR and a version of Adobe Reader. Timeliner XE will not overwrite earlier versions of Timeliner.
Installation was easy; the program installed quickly. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: The Timeliner XE main menu presents three tabs with all of the options for creating and opening projects, templates, and activities. The tabs allow the user to create a new project, choose an activity, or open a project. A Tutorials button opens the online tutorial videos.
Once a new project is selected, six timeline options appear: a standard timeline; timelines that span 1 year, 1 month, 1 week, 1 day; or a geologic line that begins 100 billion years ago and extends to the present day. Events do not have to be placed on the line in chronological order; the program will organize them.
A number of design elements are available. There are options for text, colors, and event display styles, as well as options for selecting spans, flags, and other timeline features. The data can be viewed in four formats: banner view, vertical view, compact view, or slideshow view. The View button on the toolbar is used to switch between views.
The Media tabs allow the selection of images, sounds, and movies. Items can be dragged into projects. A Browse button is used to locate and import personal files. Most media is placed into a project by "drag and drop."
The Sequence tabs select a horizontal, vertical, or circular format. Users then choose event box designs and arrow formats. Events and ideas can be stored in the Brainstorming section and then dragged and dropped into the chosen sequence order. Notes and citations can also be added.
The Choose An Activity feature offers three possibilities: Research, Challenge, and Finish Me. The Research activity provides structures and formats to help students gather and arrange specified information on a topic. The activities can be teacher-designed or program-suggested.
The Challenge activity asks the students to put timeline events in order. The Finish Me activity provides instructions designed to help students complete projects by adding additional events to a previously started project. These activities can be specially created by a teacher or used as offered by the program.
Timeliner XE arrives loaded with hundreds of ready-made timelines covering many American history topics, state histories, a limited number of world history topics, and the lives of authors and other famous historic figures. The premade timelines cover everything from technology to the history of Hollywood.
The activities that accompany the program, including Finish Me and Challenge, cover topics in the life and earth sciences. Many of the Finish Me activities focus on plots from literature selections, as well as math topics such as units of weight, length, and volume.
The Research browser allows the user to search for and access websites, capture images, and create web links to timeline events. The default Research homepage includes direct access to prescreened websites appropriate for student research topics and offers a feature that tracks research with a built-in Citation Tracker.
Timeliner XE includes an automatic spell-checker, printing, and saving capabilities. Created work can be saved as templates or PDF files. Projects can be shown as slide shows and displayed on interactive whiteboards or by a projector. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: Timeliner XE comes with clear documentation in print and PDF formats. The CD is accompanied by a straightforward Getting Started Guide, a desktop reference card, and online video tutorials. The toolbar is well-designed; functions are revealed as the cursor is placed over the tools.
The many design and layout choices will result in a steep learning curve for students, especially those in upper elementary and middle school. Students will need some practice before creating a timeline.
Once the program is used for a simple project, students will have an easier time using it for learning purposes. Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: Support is available online, by fax, or by toll-free telephone number (Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time). Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: The advantage of diagrams is that they provide a visual image of the ideas and concepts under study. Timeliner XE enables the clarification of difficult concepts, enables students to be active learners, and reinforces student understanding and learning in a visual form.
This highly motivating software helps students create graphic organizers to develop and organize their thinking and communicate their learning. Teachers can use the ready-made templates as learning assessments or as learning opportunities in a variety of subject areas.
I would recommend setting up a very simple project—maybe a student’s own life timeline or a student’s typical week—to initially teach the program. With so many design options, the students may focus too heavily on design elements and lose sight of the intended learning and focus. Once the program’s options have been explored, organizing and researching needed timeline information should be easily accomplished.
Timeliner XE is beneficial for organizing and presenting information, especially in content-heavy subjects such as history and social studies. The program’s reasonable price, motivating presentation opportunities, and constantly updated materials make Timeliner XE a recommended purchase. Recommended.
Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, Iowa City, IA.