SCISConnections

Make presentations pop with ThingLink

There are several online presentation tools allowing us to embed media. Tools like Prezi, Glogster and Nota have been around for a while. But there's a new kid on the block called ThingLink, which seems another useful online tool.

ThingLink enables users either to upload their own pictures, or upload from the web, Facebook and Flickr. Users can then embed tags - links, text and other media - into that image which others see by hovering a mouse over it. The finished ThingLink can be shared with friends, students and colleagues - via email or social media - or embedded into a class blog or other website. ThingLink also provides statistics on how many views, hovers and clicks a ThingLink gets.

ThingLink excels as a way to store multiple pieces of data in different formats, inside a small physical space. Let's look at the first avatar image on this page:

An avatar created from BitStrips
An avatar created from BitStrips

This image was originally generated as an avatar at BitStrips and saved as a jpg to my computer. I opened it in ThingLink and embedded links to some of my social-media places. When someone arrives at that image, perhaps on my blog, they simply hover their mouse over it to see little icons representing my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Scoop.it and Pinterest profiles.

In an educational context, ThingLink encourages users to make a graphic and embed content to further explain points. ThingLink lends itself to achievable interactive graphic or even infographic creation. While many of us don't have the Photoshop skills needed for a complicated infographic, ThingLink encourages a simple pictorial representation of more complex information. Unlike 'real' infographics, which are mostly 'at-a-glance', ThingLink allows readers to choose their level of further engagement.

I also made a ThingLink as a way to succinctly share my favourite avatar generators with my audience at The Book Chook blog. By hovering a mouse over each small avatar image within the larger image, the ThingLink icon would become visible, showing its name and explanatory text. Clicking would take you to each url of my chosen avatar generators on the internet.

An example of the ThingLink avatar generator
Thinglink avatar generator

Signing up for ThingLink is free, and a simple matter of logging in with Facebook or Twitter, or giving your name, email and choosing a password.

Uses for ThingLink

In an educational context, students need to think carefully to choose the best original image and links to embed when creating a ThingLink. They can demonstrate understanding of topics across the curriculum by curating content inside an image. ThingLink is simple enough for primary-aged kids, but has the potential for adding layers of complexity with high-school students. It also offers staff a new digital tool for recording instructions or condensing information they want students to read.

  • A primary student could collect the urls of the blog posts they have written on the class blog and embed those links into an image of themselves/their avatar. If they then embed that new thinglinked image onto the class blog, parents can easily find their work. While perhaps this sounds like a mere organisational activity, they are also developing visual literacy skills and communicating purposefully with an authentic audience.
  • Students could take photos on class excursions then add links to videos, sound, text and websites that have further information. Just imagine the year 10 excursion to Italy with links to sounds 
and sights that enrich the experience. Or a year 3 visit to the zoo with a link to the class's favourite animal song and embedded text of children's information reports.
  • I like the potential in ThingLink for tapping into collaborative learning. Groups of kids can become 'experts' on a subject, researching it and embedding their links in a carefully chosen image. This sort of technology-enabled participatory learning enhances the development of many digital and visual literacy skills.
An example presentation made using Thinglink
Technology-enabled participatory learning can enhance digital and visual literacy skills.
  • Older students could use a map or a time line as the main image, and embed links to other images, text and video clips to explain a geographical feature or sequence of historical events.
  • Language students and staff can use ThingLink to build vocabulary resources. Images with lots of detail have potential for users to identify and define those details.
  • Students could choose an image of a favourite book and embed a poll from a site like PollDaddy to determine how many others love the book. Once data is gathered, kids could use ThingLink to present their results. It is another multimedia alternative to a book report.
  • ThingLink is a great way to compress information into a small space. If there is a class or school blog, students can use a photo or avatar of themselves and embed links to their hobbies, favourite bands, books, movies and sports. To take up less space, individual student images can be added to a collage.Teachers can use an image of a famous painting, an explorer or a piece of scientific apparatus to embed further information for students to explore.
  • ThingLink is only part of a digital toolbox. Combine it with Wordle, for instance, where the student puts in part of a famous speech or text. Use the Wordle generated as the ThingLink image and link to websites and other media that shed light on the speech, or provide the full text as video, audio or digital print. Students could combine ThingLink with a mind-mapping tool to help generate
more ideas.

In the library, create interest in a topic, title or author with ThingLink. New titles and events can be promoted via this tool. It would make an interesting way to share information with kids in an author study. Links within a headshot image of an author could lead to the writer's website, the publisher's website, biographical information, a book trailer video, images of book covers and reviews or essays published on the school blog.

For more ideas on using ThingLink, go to:

Susan Stephenson

Susan Stephenson

Susan is the face behind The Book Chook where she shares her passion for children's literacy, literature and learning. Susan taught kindergarten to year 6 in NSW primary schools, drama outside school to kids and teens, and ESL in China. Currently, as well as pretending to be a chicken on her blog, she writes stories and plays for children.

Find out more about Susan at www.susanstephenson.com.au where you can download free PDF learning resources.