Author Archives: Ulla

ThingLink Brings Virtual Tour Creation to Microsoft Teams

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.

ThingLink Virtual Tour Creator in MS Teams

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!

Interactive images in MS Teams

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.

Sharing thinglinks to Teams conversation

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.

Teachers can create engaging learning materials for students

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 can document their learning and practice media literacy with ThingLink

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 education@thinglink.com!

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ThingLink’s New Tour Creator Supports Multiple Forms of Interaction and Media

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.

How to access the new editor and the Tour Creator?
Make sure you have selected “Use New ThingLink Image Editor” the Interface settings under Account settings. This gives you access to the new editor.

We look forward to seeing your work, please keep sharing your projects to the ThingLink Education groups on Facebook and Twitter!

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Immersive Publishing for Cultural Preservation: Visiting the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro in Memories

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.

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ThingLink and YetiTablet Announce Collaboration Bringing Multisensory Learning Experiences to Giant Touch Screens

The partnership  focuses on solutions that help patients, elders and students with learning disabilities navigate everyday challenges at home, school, or residential care facility.

Greetings from Dare to Learn Festival, Helsinki! We are happy to share that ThingLink and Kuori, the Finnish manufacturer of giant YetiTablet touch screens, have agreed on a partnership. Our goals is to deliver a new plug-and-play solution to hospitals and medical centers, residential care facilities, and special education classrooms for easily creating and displaying interactive, multisensory content on a large touch screen.

YetiTablet is a large-scale tablet built on an open Android OS. This means it works like a smartphone, and does not require additional software installations or learning a new operating system. Similarly, creating interactive images with ThingLink does not require previous technical knowledge, and is suitable for content creators of any age.

At the core of the collaboration is bringing interactive multimedia experiences to large touch screens.

Example 1: Navigating in the everyday environment

Interactive experiences on large touch screens can help understand the everyday home or learning environment; where things are, what are they called, and what should one do. For example, an interactive image from inside of a fridge can help an autistic person or a patient with a memory disorder to process information and build a sensible path for action. It can also contain notes, audio clues, or videos from caregivers and teachers.

Example 2: Supporting virtual mobility

Virtual tours on large touch screens give patients with restricted physical mobility an opportunity to access the world virtually. Unlike with VR headsets, with large touch screens patients can move and touch interactive images together, discover sounds, narration, or additional photos. This way, virtual tours in rest homes, hospital lounges or waiting rooms can become a stimulating social experience.

 

For more information and contacts, visit YetiTablet.

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ThingLink + Nearpod: New Virtual Reality Experiences for English Learners

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.

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News: ThingLink Now Supports LTI!

ThingLink now supports LTIWe are very excited to announce that ThingLink has just added support for LTI! Learning Technology Interoperability (LTI) is a protocol that lets learning management systems such as Canvas, Blackboard, Schoology, and Moodle easily integrate external tools into their platform.

With ThingLink’s new LTI integration, onboarding students is easier than ever. Schools and districts will now have the option to seamlessly register student and teacher accounts directly through LTI, eliminating the need for manual registration using invitation codes. Read more details about how to connect to ThingLink through your LMS.

Included in all ThingLink school and organization accounts, LTI is the best way to make ThingLink accessible to a large group of users. Questions about how you can use LTI with your school account? Contact us at education@thinglink.com!

 

 

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How to get a ThingLink Teacher Challenge Certificate: Create a digital portfolio of your work

We have one more week left in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge, and some of you have asked if it is possible to get a certificate for completing all the activities. Yes, this is possible! The final task collects your work in a digital portfolio and completes your ThingLink Teacher Challenge 2018!

This is what you need to do to receive a certificate:

 

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An Imaginary Interview with Lev Vygotsky on Immersive Storytelling and Learning

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.

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ThingLink Teacher Challenge Week 3: Designing a Virtual Audio Tour

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:

  1. Documenting a student project
  2. Documenting a field trip
  3. Introducing your school or library
  4. Introducing your community or neighborhood  
  5. Introducing your country
  6. Creating a tour around the world
  7. Creating a virtual lesson for students
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ThingLink Expands to Building Future Schools with Finnish Education Experts

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.

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