A number of people mentioned to me during last night’s #CAedChat that they would like to see a blog post about ThingLink interactive images and their use in the classroom, so here goes.
ThingLink allows you to add tags to an image which viewers can click on to access text you have added or online material such as websites, images, sounds, videos, and more. This tool can be accessed on the web at www.thinglink.com, and there is also an iOS app. It is free to create an account and teachers can request an educator upgrade which lets you store an unlimited number of images on the ThingLink site. Your tagged images can be shared and embedded wherever you wish.
I have found ThingLink to be very versatile and easy to use. You start by uploading an image from your computer (e.g., a photo you have taken, an image created with drawing software, or a scanned file) or by linking to an image on the web. Then you add tags to the online content you want to appear on your image. When the viewer moves the cursor over the image, the links appear and are clickable.
Teachers can use it to present content in an engaging, interactive way. Students can create images that support learning at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Whether they are labeling the parts of a flower, creating a graphic comparing and contrasting two types of sculpture, adding content to a map or timeline, or creating their digital selves, students will be on task and learning (although I can’t promise they will be quiet; the enthusiasm is definitely audible).
ThingLink can also be a starting point for a discussion on digital citizenship. Many students want to dive headfirst into Google Images when they start a project like this, but we can take this opportunity to teach them about Creative Commons licensing and all the excellent resources that are available to them to use, such as Pixabay.com, Wikimedia Commons, and the Creative Commons section on Flickr.com.
ThingLink supports many of the Common Core State Standards, in particular CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. However, depending on what students add to their ThingLink image, it can also support several of the other standards.
Here are some images on the California missions and the 1849 Gold Rush my 4th grade students created using ThingLink. This was the first time I had used ThingLink with students, and I should have had them all send me a link to their images so I could embed them, but I didn’t realize that until too late. In order to get them on the page in a timely fashion, I touched the images (similar to “liking” on Facebook) and they appeared in my stream. One feature I would love to see in the Educator account would be the ability to manage student accounts and publish their images as a class, but I am sure they are working on that. Until then, I will use a Google form to collect the image link from each student for future projects.
ThingLink Toolkit for Educators
Richard Byrne’s 26+ Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom
Resources I provided for my students
If you have creative ideas on how to use ThingLink, please share them in the comments below.