Depending on the capability of your students, the educational goals of your school, and your own preference, you can use the History of the World books in a few different ways.
Go Broad to Get the Sweep of History. This is what the Well-Trained Mind Academy does.
Well-Trained Mind Academy students read three chapters of the book per week, completing each book to get the sweep of the history in one year. They read all the chapters, but they are not assigned all of the questions or assignments from every chapter of the Study and Teaching Guide.
The teachers generally select from each chapter the I.D. and Short-answer questions they feel are most important, and assign them each Friday as an open-book or open-notes quiz.
Every few weeks there is a short writing assignment using one of the essay questions that are at the end of each chapter in the Study and Teaching Guide. There's an online forum/discussion component too, as they are meeting online.
Teachers usually have students read the chapters before class, and then lecture on that same material, explaining it, clarifying anything misunderstood, and showing the student what's most important in each chapter.
The academy classes tend to be fairly fast-paced, covering a lot of material; you can adjust how the chapters are covered and what to assign to suit your purposes.
Go Deep, but Miss the Sweep. Read Great Books at the same time you study the corresponding history from the History of the World. Some teachers feel that the books are too long, too dense, or too mature for their students, but they still want to combine Great Books with history.
In this scenario, the teacher assigns the history reading that matched up with the selected Great Book, focusing on both the literature and the history at the same time. This doesn't get the sweep of history, but it does provide deeper understanding of both history and literature. Students learn how to read a book in its historical context, and they learn the history of different parts of the world at the same times and about the interconnections. Teachers generally assign one Great Book per quarter, with accompanying assignments from the Study Guide.
Go Broad, then Go Deep. A third option is to spend the first semester reading the History of the World book. Then, the second semester, choose two great books to read and then study the relevant time periods in depth using the Study Guides. That is a good compromise and one that suits the fan of history more than the fan of literature.
In all these scenarios, the use of a timeline is a great help to creating a full picture of history.