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close this bookCreative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsHow was this user's guide to creative training produced?
View the documentIt came one night...
Open this folder and view contentsBasic facilitation skills
Open this folder and view contentsTraining needs assessment
View the documentWII-FM (what's in it for me?)
Open this folder and view contentsEvaluation techniques
Open this folder and view contentsEnergizers
View the documentForming groups
View the documentCreative congratulations
View the documentRelaxers
Open this folder and view contentsMood setting exercises
Open this folder and view contentsLectures
View the documentMind mapping
View the documentCreative use of overhead projectors
View the documentSlide/photo presentations
View the documentVisual spicers
View the documentPosters as problem-posing materials
Open this folder and view contentsDrawing and chalk talk
Open this folder and view contentsSelf-expression through pictures
View the documentBody language
View the documentVisual gestural communication
View the documentShadow plays
View the documentEasy puppets
View the documentBasic theater skills
View the documentRole play
View the documentAnimated comics role play activity
View the documentFolkstorytelling: Stories come alive!
View the documentOral testimonies
View the documentLifeline
View the documentTimelines
View the documentMap-making
Open this folder and view contentsMaking and using case studies
View the documentAction research
Open this folder and view contentsField trips
Open this folder and view contentsPhysical activities as educational tools
Open this folder and view contentsGames
View the documentContact organizations
View the documentWorkshop participants
View the documentWorkshop production staff


A timeline is a listing of key events in the community with the corresponding dates. It is most often used as tools in participatory appraisal (where the learning is a multi-way process), and can be modified for use as a visual training technique.



A timeline can reveal:

· what a person or community believes to be important in their history;

· the background to present situations and links between key events, highlighting their importance;

· how people or groups have dealt with issues before;

· changes in attitudes through time;

· changes in use of resources (e.g., could be money, medicine, natural resources, depending on the focus of the timeline); and

· development of the community, person or event.


It is important to realize that the written output may not reveal other benefits gained along the process of making the timeline.

Documentation of the process could be very helpful in recording more details of the in-depth discussions, which enhance awareness of how the events and the people involved influenced developments in the community.


This will depend on the focus of the timeline. Often, older people are used as key informants as they know more the history of an event or area. It can be facilitated as a focused discussion by one or two people.

As an option, you may work with the small groups separately at first (e.g., representatives of the women's group, farmers, youth, etc.) and consolidate group outputs afterwards. This can maximize participation as many people are more comfortable working with their peers.


The timeline will end at the present date.

Suggested approach

1. Work through formal and informal leaders in the community to arrange for a meeting with community members.


2. After gathering the people and materials, explain the reason for using a timeline.

3. Ask the participants for a well-known event as a reference date and build around it.

4. Allow the people to talk freely and do not worry too much about the accuracy of dates. Use questions to get more detail and raise issues (e.g., What important events have happened in the community? What major disasters occur in the community? When did these happen?)

5. Make copies for future reference.

6. Validate the timeline by asking other community members.


The outcome will be a list of dates and events.


Timelines are useful tools to complement case studies and action research. They provide lots of historical information in a simple and easily understandable form. They show the importance of the past to present. Experience shows that the communities are happy to have a written record of the development of their community and enjoy completing this exercise. This also boosts respect for older people.

Work with the local officials and respected persons in the community to get the trust and cooperation of other community members.


Be careful in raising expectations as some communities may have experiences with other agencies/organizations which promised much but failed to deliver.


· Timelines can stretch with many names and dates that do not enhance understanding, so be careful to include only useful information.

· Limited availability of older people.


Timelines are used as a tool in compiling the Community Resource Profiles of the barangays working with the Western Samar Agricultural Development Programme (WESAMAR) in 14 municipalities of Western Samar, the Philippines. They are in the entry/preparatory phase and facilitate an understanding of the key events in the development of a community. The process also offers explanations behind present attitudes or issues. Some community, for example, doubted that the WESAMAR programme could benefit them. With the use of a timeline, it was discovered that previous interventions promised great things and failed. This led to a deeper discussion of program objectives and emphasized the importance of commitment from all involved.

Note: On the whole, this exercise took about one hour and usually provoked heated discussion as dates and events were debated. Our experience showed that people were very pleased to have a written record of their history, enjoyed participating and said it made them realize the importance of their background.


Timeline from a typical community working in partnership with WESAMAR


First settlers (the Nabong Family) arrive


Japanese occupation, many evacuated to safer places (people did not go hungry as they improvised on whatever they found in the forest)


Many children died when a measles epidemic affected the area


The place, then called Sitio Cantawilis and under the jurisdiction of Brgy. Hawalihaw, became a full pledge barangay and renamed Brgy. Nabong


The Rural Improvement Club (RIC), a women's organization, was organized by the Department of Agriculture


A marketshift schoolbuilding was built by the community under the leadership of Brgy. Captain Exuperancio NoroBR>


The RIC, through a resolution, requested for their own schoolteacher


A concrete school building was erected through the efforts of the local officials


Brgy. Nabong community members constructed a temporary Community Health Center


Health Center, Dancing Hall and Multi-purpose building projects were implemented


A seven-month long drought damaged much of the agricultural produce, especially rice


The red tide phenomenon - algal pollution - affected Magueda Bay; fisherfolks, who depended so much on the sea, encountered hardships.


Typoon Undang ravanged the community-out of 28 houses only 9 were spared from major damage


A water system was improvised and every household provided with a water faucet


Entry of WESAMAR programme into the community


Electricity installed through the local electric cooperative


Watershed rehabilitation project implemented through the assistance of WESAMAR and a partner non-government organization (NGO)

* Barangay is a political division in the Philippines, similar to a village. This is often abbreviated as "brgy."


· Get people to write down events that they think are important on separate pieces of paper, then stick them onto the board in order. If some events are repeated, this reflects a high level of importance to many people.

· Each person could have one piece of paper or card with one event on it, then the participants all form a line holding the events in order.

· A base line with regular divisions can be used as a starter, then events can be added to it. Uneven spacing of events can provoke discussion as to "why?"