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.
The theme of our Teacher Challenge 2018 is “Immersive Storytelling”. Many of you have asked what does it mean, and how does it connect to learning. Here is a playful conversation starter on the topic based on my presentation at the Festival della Didattica Digitale earlier this year. It is an imaginary interview about immersive storytelling and learning with Lev Vygotsky, one of the pioneers in developmental psychology and the founder of sociocultural theory of learning. The key point of the post is this: Naming or describing real or imaginary relations between objects in our field of perception using multiple forms of language awakens intellectual processes fundamental to learning. This explains the potential value of technologies like ThingLink and the reason why you should take the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this year!
A note about this imaginary interview: Even though the thought of this presentation emerged spontaneously, it’s clear that Vygotsky’s work and the sociocultural theory can provide valuable tools for understanding the impact of immersive technologies to learning. I warmly welcome comments and further discussion on the topic, as I continue to work on longer explanations and examples on each point.
Q: Let’s start with some of the key concepts. How would you define ‘storytelling’?
V: Storytelling is a logical form of thought. It is an analytical process including perception, labeling, organizing, categorizing real and imaginary objects and their real and imaginary relations in speech.
Q: What do you think immersive documentation technologies such as 360 images and videos can bring to this process?
V: 360 degree media and virtual reality are cultural-historically developed tools that mediate our relationship to the world in a new way. They expand the possible fields of perception transcending space and time. Perception precedes other psychological functions.
Q: What does this mean for a first grade student who at school attends to virtual reality classes across the world?
A child learns to speak by singling out and categorizing meaningful objects in their field of perception. If the field of perception expands beyond the child’s physical environment, so does the development of other psychological functions.
Another point to consider is language: we all perceive the world through our speech. Learning to use multiple forms of speech for expressing relations in real or digital environments expands our cognitive capabilities.
Q: Let’s talk more about expressing those relations and making them visible. How do you see the function of labels or annotations in images?
V: Labeling creates new structural centers to perception. Guiding attention, they can support the internalization of new concepts and meanings.
Q: How does this relate to immersive storytelling?
V: Immersive storytelling can be understood as an activity through which students use language to visualize relations and meaning in 360 degree digital environments.
Naming or describing relations between objects in our field of perception using verbal or visual language awakens intellectual processes fundamental to learning.
Q: Would you say immersive storytelling is a form of creative play?
V: That is a possible interpretation. Play is a psychological process through which we create an imaginary situation or place, reflecting or separating objects and their actual meaning, or creating new meanings. The ability to digitally create and modify situations and environments can be understood as a form of play, opening a realm of spontaneity and freedom, connected with pleasure.
Q: Can robots help us learn? Is AI already the More Knowledgeable Other?
V: The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) refers to anyone or anything who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept. If a robot with artificial intelligence can function as an MKO and support our problem solving, it can expand our Zone of Proximal Development.
What is a virtual tour or an immersive story? A virtual tour takes the viewer to a real or imaginary location or place that is captured in a 360 image or video. A tour that consists of multiple images typically has 1) a theme and 2) a storyline that defines how and in which order the images connect to each other.
Starting from documenting student projects at the school grounds to traveling around the world, here are examples of the most common 360 tour themes from ThingLink users:
ThingLink has just announced a new service for educational institutions and governments on international markets. Leaning on the Finnish education system and school culture, the new service focuses on holistic curriculum and school planning utilizing immersive learning technologies.
To celebrate the Norwegian Constitution Day, we decided to send a special greeting to our dear Scandinavian neighbors who are almost as happy as the Finns. With love, we put together this virtual 360 degree tour to the stunningly beautiful land of fjords and fells. The tour starts from Laedal, goes through the longest road tunnel to Bergen, then takes a ferry to North, and ends up at a Constitution Day celebration party after a quick visit to Oslo.
Now, the only thing missing from this tour are the people! Do you have a story or memory from Norway? Here is what you can do:
a) Open the voice recorder on your phone and record an audio clip telling a special memory or story from Norway
b) Open the ThingLink editor, clone any image from this tour to your own account, and make your own version of the trip! Add audio clips, notes, music, photos, videos, or anything you like –and share it onwards!
If you don’t have a ThingLink account yet, check out our new Premium Teacher plan!