Using ThingLink to Explore Global Issues

Gregory Allen

We are pleased to feature a Friday guest post by Gregory Allar, a talented ThingLink Certified Educator who is a Special Lecturer for the International Studies Program at Oakland University in Rochester Michigan.  We hope you are inspired by Gergory’s post.

Be sure to follow Gregory on Twitter @gregallar

In my class, The Global Citizen, one of the issues presented focuses on the migration crisis which is currently inundating Europe with millions of refugees.  The primary reasons these people are fleeing their homelands is to escape the atrocities of war, internal conflict, economic collapse or poverty.

ThingLink Activity – Migration Crisis in Europe

  • I assign each student a country from which many of its citizens are fleeing, for example, Syrians, Afghanistanis, Pakistanis, Albanians, Kosovars, Nigerians or Eritreans;  
  • I ask the students to find a map of Europe which includes their assigned country;
  • Next I ask that they identify the primary route(s) which the refugees use in their attempt to reach Europe, and demonstrate the route(s) using a series of arrows;
  • I then ask that each student uploads at least one link to a news article on their particular refugee population, at least one graphic, and finally one short YouTube clip, each of which portrays or discusses the challenges these people face.
  • Once their ThinkLink image is complete, students are to share a link in the Forum section of the Moodle course page.

In class, students explain their ThingLink activity, which readily lends itself to additional questions, either from me or their classmates, for example:

  • What conclusion did you intend for the class to draw from your ThingLink image?
  • Why did you select a particular graphic, news link or YouTube clip?
  • What was the most difficult aspect of the refugee’s journey?
  • How were the refugees received i.e. welcomed in Europe?
  • Would you subject yourself to such a journey?  Why or why not?
  • What would you have done if you were a citizen of that particular country?

These images truly engage students in a much more emphatic and graphic manner in the migration crisis than an assigned reading. Moreover, these ThingLink images pique student curiosity, actively engage students in examining the individual representations, support the learning objectives for this unit of materials and lastly, the class discussion promotes higher order thinking skills – analyze, evaluate, justify, and defend their opinions.

ThingLink activities may be applied to various chemical or biological processes, for example, digestion, where students could identify the various stages from intake of foods or liquids to the excretion of wastes, or to demonstrate an engineering process, for example, the various stages of [car] engine combustion.


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ThingLink Certified Educators are a connected group of educators who are passionate about leveraging the power of ThingLink for teaching and learning. These talented educators work to explore, share, and teach others about great ways to use ThingLink in the Classroom.
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