Wed | Jun 28, 2017

Techno-tools for teachers: Content sharing made easy

Published:Sunday | April 16, 2017 | 4:00 AMGen Clacken

As teachers embrace their 21st-century role of 'guide on the side' and move away from the traditional posture of 'sage on the stage', the capabilities of new and emerging technologies are making that role shift easier and more effective than ever. Today, we focus on a computer application called Thinglink. It is designed to make the sharing of content more interactive and student friendly.

WHAT IS IT?

Thinglink is described as an annotation tool, and as its name suggests, it's an application that links one thing to other things. It allows you to link or embed different types of media such as text, audio files, and videos into images and pictures.

An example of a Thinglink product is a map of Jamaica that allows you to watch short videos outlining the geographical layout of certain towns and districts when you click on specific places on the map. To view this example, visit https://edtechreflectionsblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/sample-thinglink/.

HOW DO YOU ACCESS IT?

To use Thinglink, go to www.thinglink.com, sign up for the package of your choice, and begin creating your digital learning experiences. Thinglink offers a variety of user packages ranging from USD$35 per month to as much as upwards of USD$120 per month. However, there is good news! Thinglink offers a free package that students and teachers can access. This package includes the standard image editor that allows you to link other media to your images, 10,000 views of your final product, and technical support.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

If you have ever tagged anyone in a Facebook photo, then you will find Thinglink just as easy to use. Once you have set up your account, you will need to identify an image that represents the topic or subject you want to focus on. This image can be uploaded from your own files, or you can use an image already being hosted on the Internet. When you have identified the image and uploaded it to the Thinglink platform, you are now ready to tag different parts of your image with text or media resources located on other websites. Thinglink is very user friendly, and the site provides a number of prompts and aids to help you navigate and build your own Thinglink tool.

As Thinglink is web-based, the resources you are able to tag or embed in your image are also web-based. This means that you will have to locate the other media resources on the Internet, copy the URL address of those resources, and paste them into your Thinglink. You are allowed to upload images and audio files from your own computer, but the other resources are required to be web-based or web-hosted. The good thing is that those web-based resources could take any format, including YouTube videos, SlideShare, and Prezi presentations; PowToon animations; and Google Tools including Google Quiz, etc. Additionally, you could create your own web-based resources and then link them in your Thinglink.

Once you have completed your resource tagging, it is quite an easy task to share your tool. Thinglinks can be shared on social media platforms, they can be embedded in blogs and other sites, and you can publish them on your own Thinglink channel. Students will need Internet connectivity and smart devices to view their Thinglink, but they can access their Thinglink at any time and from anywhere.

WHY SHOULD YOU USE IT?

Thinglink productions are very useful when you need students to explore large bodies of content over short periods. With it, you become a curator, with the ability to create learning experiences that are highly interactive, engaging, and catering to different learning styles in your class.

Thinglink supports the easy creation of authentic and relevant resources as you are able to develop your own media (audio files, video files, text, etc) and link them to original or adopted image files. It allows you to present content in a variety, formats and allows for greater retention of learning. Thinkglink can also be used by students, allowing them to hone their creative skills and take ownership of their learning.

SUMMARY

Tool: Thinglink

Classification: In-image Interaction Technology

Location: www.thinglink.com

Classroom Application:

n Content Delivery

n Student Assessment

Cost: Ranges from free version to US$120

n Gen Clacken is an educational technologist with 15 years' experience in online education. She can be contacted at gen.clacken