Category : Certified Educators

Featured project: POKE vocational college brings virtual tours to learning in Microsoft Teams

POKE vocational college has made virtual tours an integral part of their learning environment in Microsoft Teams. This example shows how they are used to increase flexibility in learning and to develop future skills.

Pekka Ouli works as an eLearning specialist at POKE vocational college in Finland. He is one of the early adopters of virtual tours in vocational education, integrating them both to teaching materials as well as student presentations. 

Image: Pekka Ouli from POKE vocational college is an active MIE Expert

Like many other vocational colleges, POKE accepts new students around the year. They come from different cities or countries, and many have previous experience from working life. The increased demand for flexibility and easy access led Pekka to start building a digital learning environment in MS Teams that would be accessible to students 24/7, from school or from home. Here, they could find materials for the different programs and degrees, participate in discussions and get feedback for their work. Being one of the early adopters of 360 degree media technology, virtual tours and their creation with ThingLink became a natural part of this environment.

“In our case, ThingLink is part of the basic toolset that students get when they begin studying at POKE. We train them to use Teams, ThingLink, and Adobe  Students typically learn these tools very fast.”

Video: POKE vocational college collaboration space in Microsoft Teams Mobile app incorporates ThingLink to give students access to virtual tours from their mobile phones.

Orientation to physical working environments

Several areas of technical education contain specific knowledge about the physical space where the work is done. This knowledge is difficult to share without visiting the place in person. For example, if you study to become an emergency room nurse, orientation in the space is an important part of the training.  The same logic applies to other areas such as construction engineering.

At POKE, virtual orientations to the school campus and different working environments are accessible both from the MS Teams desktop and mobile applications. These orientations may be created by teachers or learning specialists such as Pekka or by students themselves. 

“Micorosft Teams is our home base for all materials, but it is great that when our students use ThingLink to create virtual tours, these tours can also be shared with external partners on other platforms and websites, or as stand-alone VR experiences.”  

Image: A tour to the biotechnology campus by students of the POKE Digilab

360 degree storytelling as part of the curriculum

Another use case for virtual tours in vocational training has to do with learning relevant future skills.  For example, at POKE one of the general course modules in ICT studies is called “Future technologies”. In this course, students learn to use VR and AR technologies through various projects. An example of this kind of project was a collaboration with the city of Äänekoski: over 1000 people contributed to building Äänekoski in Minecraft.  To showcase this project to people who did not have a Minecraft account, the POKE students used 360 captures annotated with ThingLink. 

 Image: A 360 capture of a virtual city in Minecraft was annotated with ThingLink and shared on multiple platforms to showcase the collaborative project

In a collaborative project with the city, POKE students created virtual tours from different locations and places that are popular tourist attractions in the city of Äänekoski. These tours were made accessible in the various info points for tourists using VR glasses. Another group of students is currently exploring the use of virtual tours to familiar places in occupational therapy.

Image:A patient in occupational therapy is exploring a virtual tours with students from POKE vocational college

Summary and results:

POKE vocational college uses Microsoft Teams as their digital learning environment, and virtual tours of real-world working environments are a part of this environment. For example, virtual tours to the campus or to physical working environments such as the emergency room and construction sites are provided as course materials in the different learning modules. These tours are accessible on both desktop and mobile devices.

All students are equipped with the same tools from the beginning of their studies. 360 degree virtual tour creation is taught as a future ICT skill, any student at the vocational college has access to this course module.

Results:

  • Increased flexibility for students in different locations to access course materials and turn in assignments on any device
  • Improved access to physical locations (e.g. emergency room, construction site) via virtual tours
  • A new option to develop contextual knowledge of a real-world environment in the cloud
  • Ability to share materials to multiple platforms and invite collaborators to view students’ work.

Inspired by Pekka’s example? Contact our team for more information at education@thinglink.com or say hi to Pekka on Facebook.

 

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MOPIC VIRTUAL MUSEUM PROJECT BRINGS HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS TO LIFE

An interview with ThingLink Certified Educator Karsten Steiner, a passionate iPadagog and music teacher from Åland Islands and the author of “Motion pictures at an exhibition MoPic” on iBook.


“As a music teacher I’ve been inspired by Modest Mussorgsky’s famous piece “Pictures at an Exhibition” in which he describes his friend’s paintings in a musical way. This gave me the idea to contact my colleagues in different countries and create a virtual museum that gave old pictures a new life, with help of film, theatre, new art and digital technologies.”

What is the Mopic project?

MOPIC is a digital history museum for students, made by students. It was done as a two-year ERASMUS project in collaboration between four countries: Lithuania, Catalonia (Spain), England and the Åland Island (Finland). During the two years, each country organized a one-week long creative workshop, the results of which were documented for the virtual museum. The students from the participating countries were between the age of thirteen and sixteen, 8th and 9th grade. Altogether, the project involved directly and indirectly over 1,000 people.

Together with my colleagues, we organized the project into six phases:

1: TEST RUN WITH TEACHERS (CRITICAL)

In the beginning of the project eight teachers came together for a week to think about the learning goals and desired end results for the project.

2: FINDING HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS

Next step for each student group was to discover three interesting local historical projects and the stories behind them. For each project, students had to find images, photographs or archeological materials. These pictures were the start for three virtual  project rooms in each countrys’ exhibition space. To keep all materials in one place the groups used Padlet.

3: ART WORKSHOP IN ÅLAND

The historical pictures inspired the first workshop in Åland, during which  students they learned

different ways and techniques to create new art based on the local stories.

4: MUSIC WORKSHOP IN CATALONIA

This workshop gave students an opportunity to interpret the collected materials with music using creative instruments like water bottles, Makey Makey kits and GarageBand.

5: THEATRE WORKSHOP IN LITHUANIA

Here, students chose a photograph that they wanted to bring to life by acting in front of a green screen. Students learned to design and sew their own costumes and apply theatre makeup to finalize their historical character.

After this workshop all countries had the needed materials for their own virtual museum room. The tools for organizing the different tasks and sharing the materials included Trello, Dropbox, and Google drive. The students communicated with each other using Facebook groups and Flipgrid videos. The virtual museum was created with ThingLink.

6: VIRTUAL TOUR CREATION WORKSHOP IN ENGLAND

Finally, each of the country teams collected their materials from the previous workshops and combined them into a 360 degree virtual experience using ThingLink. The local stories came together in the MOPIC exhibition that gave the audience an option to use VR headsets and walk through the museum experience in each country.

What kind of learning goals did you set for the project?

As much as the end result, we were interested in the journey leading to it, and getting answer to questions like:

  • What did the students want to learn about their own local history?
  • What can historical photos tell us about our present?
  • How can we use our knowledge about history to build something new?

These questions opened up great opportunities for students to learn about:

  • Research methods for making art inspired by different materials and role models
  • Creative expression in making music, acting, masking, and costume design
  • Use of digital tools for filming, interviewing, audio recording and green screen
  • Visit other countries and learn about their culture
  • Communicate in English, socialize and have fun together

What is the value of the 360 degree presentation of project results?

The additional value of 360 viewing is the experience of being inside the virtual museum world and to be able to focus and walk around without distractions. For students, it also gives a new kind of opportunity to be an active part of the production and the whole educational process. Both students and teachers got an opportunity to extend their creativity, social and digital skills.

What comes next?

I am very grateful for being able to bring so many different professionals together with the students and everyone was open to  learn from each other! The students feel very proud about the outcome of the project and many of them got unforgettable experiences and friends for life.

Going forward, I hope that Mopic can be an example for learning and collaborating in multi-cultural environments, and that in the future I will have the possibility to work with more schools from different countries. In fact, I would like to invite any school, no matter what grade or level to try this out! I’m welcoming every new idea with open arms, please feel free to contact me at karstensteiner@me.com!

 

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THINGLINK WINS THE UNESCO ICT IN EDUCATION PRIZE WITH A VISION OF A GLOBAL VIRTUAL SCHOOL

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 rachel@thinglink.com, 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.

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Developing Digital Literacy with ThingLink: Aligning to Common Core Standards

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: 

Preparing for the Project

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.

Student Project

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.

About the Author

Michelle Eckstein, Elementary Technology Teacher | Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette, Colorado

michelle eckstein certified educator

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:

 

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ThingLink Teacher Challenge June Update

The ThingLink Teacher Challenge is going strong at the end of June. If you haven’t joined us yet, this would be a great time to get started! We’ve launched 3 activities to date. Participants will find they can complete all three of them in about 2-4 hours, depending on your experience level, and the depth of the activity you design. Here is a summary of resources to help everyone stay on track during this self-paced PD opportunity in June and July.

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Join Us in Immersive Storytelling Across the Globe

Tell Your Story on the Go!

We invite educators from across the globe to join us in the 5th Annual ThingLink Teacher Challenge. This free, online, self-paced,  professional development will help educators learn to explore, modify and create immersive 360 stories on the go! It promises to be a tremendous learning experience, packed with the power of our and expertise from our talented community of ThingLink Certified Educators. We hope you will join us for the best PD of the summer!

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Use ThingLink 360/VR to Make Connections in Your Community

by Tai Preuninger

ThingLink’s 360/VR media editor has allowed us to create virtual tours around our community. Students in grades K-3 learn about different jobs and roles of people in the community, like police and firemen. Local firemen gave us the grand tour of their station and gave us expert information to include in our tags that we embedded in the images. In this ThingLink, students can take a 360° ride in a fire engine, see actual training videos and visit places like the gear room and inside of an ambulance.

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Join Our ThingLink 360/VR Bootcamp in MA with Kathy Schrock

We invite you to join our upcoming ThingLink 360/VR in Education Bootcamp with host Temple Mitchell and special guest, Kathy Schrock, for a powerful day of learning on May 12, 2018, at UMass Dartmouth’s Kaput Center for Research and Innovation. We hope teams of innovative educators will join us to explore the powerful possibilities of shifting learning from consumption to creation with interactive 360 images. We are thrilled to have Kathy Schrock lead us in a 360 image capture expedition and we are looking forward to working with innovative educators in the area to build expertise in using interactive 360 images in education.

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Using Virtual Reality in Lessons

by Susan Gaer

Whether you teach English language learners or adult secondary education learners, you need to think about ways to integrate technology into the lesson. There are many technology integration matrixes, such as SAMR, TPACK and The Technology Integration Matrix from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. However, all of them have in common the fact that integration is more than substitution of one technology for another. I have developed a lesson as a model of this type of integration. It creates an online model using Google Docs, Google Forms, and Thinglink along with audio and video. I hope that this model is something that other teachers can build on to make their own highly integrated lessons.

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Using ThingLink to Spark Debate

by Mona Voelkel

Thinglink allows students to explore different worlds and take on different personas as they explore that world.

Unleash the possibilities of Thinglink 360 by crafting learning experiences that allow students to gain information about important issues, filter that information through a shifted perspective and then build on that learning to bring about change.  This allows for the embodied virtual experience to lead into real-world journeys of empathy and social change.

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