Monday, June 06, 2016

Revisiting the Potential of ThingLink

Saw Thinglink ( in an article introduced a range of tools for classroom use. Sometimes, we could get quite excited over the tools highlighted in articles like this because of its 'newness' to us. Many of us would immediately sign up to create an account to explore and quite often would seek opportunity to use this in class the soonest possible. I am no different.

Because of this, in fact, I ended up with many accounts that I forgot I had registered for.  Because of this, my iPad was installed with many apps that I used only once or twice... For the 'fortunate' enough once, they would make a come back a few weeks, months or even years before I tap on them to recall what it offered! Does this sound familiar to you?

Indeed, I forgot that I had signed up an account with Thinglink until I attempted to register for the account again. The website actually told me that I had an account! Haha.... Resetting password was the next step.

A search in this blog showed that I had written a blog post for Thinglink (barely a year ago!): Simple feature, Many applications: "Thinglink" for Learning (2015 June).

This shows how overwhelmed we were... overwhelmed by the humongous amount of resources and information available in the internet. On the other hand, it is also an indication that I had not 'played' enough with the tool to 'internalise' the use, before reaching the stage that I could apply in an intuitive or natural way!
[OK, this is a self-developed approach that I would share in another post another time]

1. What is ThingLink
As the suggested, the application allows one to add links to an image. The "link" is not necessary an URL but it could be text, an image, a video clip or an URL to a website. All these could be done in the FREE version!

Here's an example of what I created: It took less than 15 minutes to explore and produce this:
A few links were embedded on this photo:
  • A & C: Text
  • B: Link to a website 
  • D: Video clip from Youtube
  • 3 Pic Icons: Images were uploaded with caption.

Broadly, the above are the features that ThingLink offers that I think could be very useful for Teaching and Learning.

On the other hand, ThingLink also came with similar features in the VIDEO feature. Relooking at what I posted, I think applications like Youtube and EdPuzzle would probably do a better job. That explains why I did not elaborate the video feature in this post.

2. Some ideas: ThingLink for T&L (by Teachers)

Below are some ideas specific to the subject discipline.
While some land themselves more naturally in certain subjects, many of these are ideas are applicable across disciplines, depending on the purpose of the activity.

(1) Image Analysis  
in Languages & Humanities

One of the applications of a ThingLink image is to provide scaffolds to analysize images.

Example 1:
Getting students to talk about what they saw in the image (oral communication) or to write an composition based on the media provided on attributes of a neighbourhood that make it attractive or conducive for living?
  • Images of related facilities (but not clearly shown) can be added. We could embed questions/ key words or clues in the caption to guide them to elaborate.

  • Hyperlinks to relevant websites serve to provide additional information related to the context for them to read up the background/ content so that they could better articulate their point with greater clarity. The intent of inserting the link can be added as text (in the box).

  • Relevant objects in the image could be used as stimulus to set students think deeper for issues. When used appropriately, it could lead students to present different points of views and discuss social issues.
  • Make the picture speak with video or audio files to provide information from a different dimension.

Example 2:
While the above illustrates how we could tap on the features to scaffold students in a writing activity, we could do the same for Geography lessons where key features (e.g. facilities) of a neighbourhood/ town are highlighted to get students learn about (residential) town planning - through providing clues and asking questions.

(2) Flipped Learning  
for Sciences & Humanities

More often than not, video clip is the primary resource used for flipped learning because of the immense amount of information illustrated through sound and motion.

For content-heavy subjects, a Thinglink image would probably help students to make connection between related ideas much easily when the information are embedded in a single image.

Below is a simple illustration on introduction to 'cloud formation' and recognition of clouds.
Mouse over A, B and C to see what are embedded at this links.

We can embed different types of 'information' at the appropriate locations in the image.
  • In the form of text (entered in the textbox), relevant (amount of) information can be 'downloaded' to the students. Bite size is recommended as overwhelming amount would turn students off sometimes.
  • Insert a hyperlink to the website providing the content.
  • Add a video clip to illustrate a process.  
To make the process a meaningful one for students,
  • Try to insert a question or the comment that requires students to apply the reading/ viewing to answer the question, make a stand or verify the comment.

    (3) Drawing conclusions using inductive approach 
    in Humanities & Character Education

    We can add links to a relevant image to "drop" clues that enable students to collect a range of information so that they could piece the information/ observations together, make sense out of the information and draw connections that could even be used to influence or help them make a decision in a proposal.

    3. Some ideas: ThingLink for Assignments (by Students)

    While ThingLink does not have provision for online collaboration, students can work in groups, discuss and put the collective responses in a single image for submission. Students could submit the hyperlinks to the teachers. Alternatively, they can also embed the image in a given website.

    By collating the images in a single website (e.g. Blog, GoogleSite, Spaces), it allows students' learning to expand beyond own/ self-discovery.

    Some ideas:
    • If groups are students are working with the same focus (e.g. commercial activities in housing estate, however different resources (e.g. image of different housing estates), they could look at each others' inputs to draw out a collection of commercial activities that are common and not common across the images, where they could categorise as "core/ essential/ basic" as well as those unique to the demographics (e.g. mature estate with lots of elderly).
    • It could be groups working on the same resource but with different focuses. For instance the biodiversity of the rainforest where groups are tasks to report on the areas that they are tasked to investigate. E.g. Animals, Plants, Terrains.
    • To present a collection of views from different groups of stakeholders over an heartland issue.

     1. To demonstrate understanding of (functions in) a system

    Example: Science - To demonstrate the understanding of the functions of the different parts of the plant cell.
    On an image of the plant cell, students can embed text to describe functions of each part of the cell. They could also embed video clips that provide more in-depth explanation on the function of the part (e.g. the types of tests to carry out to assess the presence of the part).

     2. For narrative reporting

    Example: History - To illustrate the core activities Singapore island in the early years when Raffles landed in Singapore
    On the old map, students could plant links at the relevant locations that lead the reader to images of activities took place, write short description of the activities.

    There are more examples available at the ThingLink website

    Other useful links:
    Thinglink for Interactive Images: Amazing Creation Tools

    Any other suggested ideas are most welcomed :)

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