This week started with some good news: ThingLink has been selected as one of the two winners of the 2018 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa-Al Khalifa Prize for the use of ICT in Education. The Prize awards individuals and organizations that are carrying out outstanding projects leveraging new technologies to expand educational and lifelong learning opportunities.
We would like to thank all our certified educators and ThingLink users that are constantly coming up with new ways of using ThingLink in the classroom and who have inspired their own community with innovative examples. We are putting together a photo collage for the UNESCO award ceremony for March 12th, and would love to include photos from our users around the world! Please send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will include it in the presentation!
Example: Teacher training bootcamp at the Florida M&A University. Photo by LMichelle Salvant
Example: ThingLink teacher training workshop at the Strawberry School in India. Photo: Yogesh S. Baheti
Example: 6th graders working on their ThingLink project at Joensuu Teacher Training School. Photo: Aleksi Komu
Founded in 2010 in Finland, ThingLink was the first technology company to introduce images with dynamic rich media tags that could be embedded and accessed across the web. ThingLink published its image editor in 2011, video editor in 2014, and 360-degree image editor in 2016. This week, ThingLink introduced a new editor for adding points of information to 360 videos.
ThingLink editors have been used by over 6 million teachers, students and online publishers in 190 countries to document culture, nature, technology and students’ learning process. Use cases include virtual tours for language learning, technical education, cultural studies and workplace learning as well as adding text and voice notes to maps, historical images, photos from field trips and school projects. Over 30 million people interact and learn through ThingLink images and videos every month.
The UNESCO ICT in Education jury considered ThingLink as “visual learning technology that helps foster learning experiences for all, including learners with disabilities or limited ability for expression. In an increasingly digitalized world, ThingLink helps to build curriculum to develop the 21st century skills and competences. With the instantly growing community of users, ThingLink provides a new way for documenting cultural heritage using local languages, inviting teachers and students to connect to any place with their lesson plans.”
We have hundreds of examples of how ThingLink at schools can increase students’ ability to virtually visit real-world environments, and document learning using multiple forms of digital media. Using 360 images and videos enriched with information and audio feedback that support the student’s learning process is an efficient way to develop contextual understanding and empathy in places and situations that would normally be beyond our physical reach.
Another interesting aspect is looking at all the images, videos and lessons together. By documenting their local environment and knowledge in the cloud, teachers and students are at the same time building a global virtual learning environment. We believe that new image-based learning environments can greatly contribute to solving challenges in global education, such as the need for qualified teachers.
This year started with great product updates and partner news. Last week at BETT London we announced an integration with Microsoft Teams. This means users of Microsoft Office 365 software are now able to create and view interactive images, videos and 360-degree virtual tours in the Microsoft Teams environment.
A virtual tour is the slideshow of tomorrow
Everyone today knows how to create a slideshow, and soon every student will know how to create a virtual tour. Similar to a slideshow, a virtual tour is a tool for documentation, storytelling, self-expression and collaboration.
“Immersive and 360-degree experiences have the potential to greatly improve learning outcomes because they help students process information faster and maintain deeper engagement in the curriculum,” said Dan Ayoub, General Manager for Mixed Reality Education at Microsoft Corp. “By bringing ThingLink’s technology into collaborative platforms like Teams and eventually into their assignments process, educators will have an unmatched set of digital storytelling tools to inspire great discussion and creativity in their classrooms.”
Below are more details about the integration!
ThingLink’s editor in MS Teams works the same way as on ThingLink.com. Educators and students can easily enhance images and videos with points of interest containing text, audio, video, and links. Here is an example of adding a link to Wikipedia.
Interactive images and virtual tours can be created directly in Microsoft Teams, and they can be shared to Teams conversations. From ThingLink’s sharing tab, just copy a Teams deep link and paste it to Teams conversations.
ThingLink is especially useful in the education space because it lets teachers build interactive, visual learning experiences that are accessible in the cloud. These multimedia presentations can be most helpful to develop vocabulary and contextual understanding in technical education, science and social studies. The best is teachers can search and modify existing lessons for their own use!
Students from elementary school to college can use ThingLink to document their learning with interactive maps, infographics, videos, presentations and virtual 360-degree tours. Here is an example of an interactive video that contains how-to instructions for creating animations using basic shapes in PowerPoint. Going forward, students’ ThingLink assignments can be evaluated using the new Teams grading tools!
Microsoft Office 365 users can get a free 14-day access to ThingLink’s Premium teacher via the Microsoft AppSource marketplace. Sharing ThingLink images is supported in Microsoft Teams and OneNote. Editing is supported in Microsoft Teams. New uploaded images and videos from Office 365 users are saved in Azure. We can’t wait for you to try the new integration and let us know how it works for you! If you need any help in activating ThingLink for your school or district, please contact us at email@example.com!
Thousands of educators use ThingLink for creating visual learning materials, virtual lessons, and interactive presentations that may include several types of media. This is why many have requested the option to create transitions from a regular 2D image (for example, a floor plan) to a 360 image (a 360 photo of a classroom) and back.
We are excited to share that this is now possible! Here is a brief summary of ThingLink’s new Tour Creator:
1. Support for multiple media formats
ThingLink is the only platform that supports transitions from one interactive media type to another. This means you can have a base image or a poster that transitions to a set of 360 images or videos, and maybe back to the base image. This way a virtual tour is not limited to only 360 media, but it becomes a multimedia presentation on small and large touch screens that can include multiple paths for navigation and content discovery.
2. A selector that shows all your media
No need for copy-pasting links! The new editor pulls all your previously created media into an image selector. This means you can now select the next scene for your tour with one click. If you want to add a new image, the image selector also offers an upload option.
3. Several content templates for best mobile experience
To make your images look great on any device, ThingLink’s Tour Creator features multiple content templates from plain text annotations to various combinations of text, images and embedded content. In addition to the tag arrangement, you can design a custom color scheme that will apply to all points of interest.
4. A custom text label for transition
To give your viewers an idea of the next scene in your tour or presentation, you can add a short text such as “Go to the library” or “Back to start”. Labeling will help distinguish transitions from content icons.
5. A large selection of icons + custom icon upload
To make your tour visually attractive, ThingLink offers hundreds of preloaded icons in various colors. In addition, Premium users can upload their own icons directly inside the editor.
6. New privacy options for organization-only viewing
Organization account holders can now set their content in “My organization” viewing mode, in which case their presentations and tours will not show up in ThingLink search. Only members of the same organization can access content created by its members. This is an important feature for many schools, eLearning service providers, and corporate training organizers.
To see ThingLink’s Tour Creator in action, watch this video from Andrew walking through the different features!
Switching to the new editor
The following months will be a transition period during which you will experience both the old and the new editor depending on which editor has originally been used for creating an image. Eventually all images and tag types will convert to open in the new editor. Going forward, all new features such as collaborative editing 360 video will be available in the new editor.
The American Library Association’s digital-literacy task force defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” Digital literacy is an important skill that incorporates many Common Core Standards. As an Elementary Technology Teacher, I am always looking for ways to creatively incorporate content standards and digital literacy into my lessons. Immersive stories engage students in learning content and improve students skills in digital literacy, reading informational text, and writing. Creating virtual tours with ThingLink is an ideal medium for developing digital literacy skills and addressing Common Core reading and writing standards.
The specific digital literacy and communication standards I planned this unit to address were from Common Core and the ISTE standards for students:
Fourth graders study Colorado history in their social studies classes. As an extension of these studies, students in my technology classes will explore a ThingLink I created on Leadville (below) in order to understand how Leadville (and much of Colorado) has changed over time. This ThingLink also serves as a model for the projects students will create later in the unit. I have decided to use the Icons of Depth and Complexity as a tool to ask students to reflect as they explore the tour I created and to help students to identify important historical points as they create their own tours. This will help students go beyond surface level understanding and think more critically. As I created my ThingLink tour, I used a story map to help organize my thinking.
After exploring and discussing the Leadville ThingLink 360°, I plan to have students select a city or town in Colorado to research. They will research their selected city or town, evaluating many digital resources and integrating information from multiple sources in order to write about how their town has changed over time. Students will use primary source photos as the basis for their analysis of how their town has changed over time. Students will use the same story map template as they plan their ThingLink.
The research phase of this project addresses the following standards:
Specifically, students will be asked to examine primary source photos to infer details about various time periods. They will then be asked to sequence their photos to see trends and understand how their city or town had changed over time. I am excited to see how using these additional lenses helps students to think critically as they create their own ThingLink tour of a Colorado town.
To create their ThingLink, students will either use Google Street View to find images or take their own 360 photos of their town using the Ricoh Theta cameras we were able to purchase through grants from Donors Choose, CenturyLink and Innovative Education Colorado. After uploading their 360° image to ThingLink, students will create tags with primary source images of their town in different decades. With the recent update to ThingLink students are now able to record their own audio. Students will create audio narration to include in their virtual tours. Creating their own project addresses additional writing and speaking standards.
In addition to the Common Core reading, writing, and speaking standards, this project also addressed the Colorado State Standards for History and 21st Century Skills and Readiness.
As a teacher, I love tools that I can use to create interactive lessons for students and also allow students to create their own content. ThingLink is one of my favorite tools for this type of thinking. I’ve used ThingLink with third grade students as they explore Colorado habitats and life zones and with fifth grade as students study the human body. ThingLink is amazing for helping students to explore time and place as they develop reading, writing, and speaking skills needed by Common Core Standards.
Michelle Eckstein, Elementary Technology Teacher | Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette, Colorado
Michelle Eckstein is a ThingLink Certified Educator and Elementary Technology Teacher at Peak to Peak Charter Schoo, in Lafayette, Colorado. She has been in teaching elementary schools for over 10 years and has a Masters in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut and endorsements in elementary education, gifted education, and instructional technology. Michelle loves seeing students authentically engaged when they are creating with technology.
You can connect with Michelle on:
Some weeks ago we got a note from Leonardo Coelho, a journalist and a student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. After the devastating fire that destroyed the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Leonardo had started working on a project that developed new ways for people to remember and share memories of the museum they loved. To us, Leonardo’s initiative struck as a truly wonderful example of how 360 media and immersive publishing can support cultural preservation, and we wanted to take a moment to share his story with you.
We are excited to share that ThingLink and Nearpod have partnered to bring new experiences to language learning! Nearpod’s new lessons “Virtual Reality for English Learners” uses ThingLink’s technology to take students on interactive virtual tours to familiar environments in the community that engage and motivate students to learn. Nearpod’s goal is to “provide the most realistic medium in which language learning becomes meaningful and responsive”.
For example, the “At the Ice Cream Shop” lesson takes students to Lulu’s Ice Cream Shop in Florida. Students can explore the shop from both the customer’s and the shopkeeper’s perspective, and learn the key vocabulary to describe things they see. Icons created with ThingLink’s 360 photo editor indicate a point of interest that contains a closeup image, a written word, and audio feedback.
The lesson includes opportunities for students to get to know other cultures by exploring ice cream from around the world and share their own knowledge through a combination of formative assessments. Students also get to hear from Luisa, the owner of the ice cream shop and an English Learner herself. “Every lesson includes a story from an English Learner. We want students to see themselves in these success stories and know that the hard work they’re putting in is worth it!” shares Mari Lasnetski, Director for Nearpod EL.
To celebrate the partnership, ThingLink users can get a 15% discount on Nearpod’s Gold licenses using the promo code NP-THINGLINK. Similarly, Nearpod users can use the code VR4EL to get 15% off ThingLink’s Teacher Premium account!
Download the a free example lesson.
More information about Nearpod EL solution.
Create your own virtual language tours with ThingLink Teacher Premium.