Category : Education

ThingLink Education Features Reviewed

ThingLink Education has been working hard this year to support teachers by providing the community with a safe and efficient online classroom environment. ThingLink Teacher Accounts are packed full of powerful features to help teachers transform learning and help students develop 21st century skills.

As we approach the launch of the ThingLink Teacher Challenge, we thought it would be helpful to provide educators with a handy spot to review earlier posts about features available in ThingLink Teacher Account. Of course, a great way to share all of this information is through the use of an interactive image as a content launcher.

ThingLink Education Features at a Glance

Explore this interactive image to jump to earlier posts introducing ThingLink Education teacher features with examples and directions.

ThingLink Education Features Professional Development

We understand the importance of providing professional development to help teachers explore and use ThingLink in the classroom. We realize that summer is a great time to help teachers grow professionally. To meet the needs of busy teachers, we are excited to offer the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this summer. We hope you can join us for this free, self-paced learning opportunity designed to help teachers connect, explore and learn through constructive play.

ThingLink Teacher Challenge

 

 

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3 Reasons to Take the ThingLink Teacher Challenge This Summer

The ThingLink Teacher Challenge is a free, self-paced, online summer professional development opportunity designed to help teachers transform classroom teaching and e-learning with ThingLink, an easy-to-use interactive image and video platform.

This challenge invites teachers to learn to use interactive images to redefine learning in the classroom. Learn how to connect audio, video, images, and text in one cohesive presentation
during this self-paced professional development opportunity. Here are three reasons to participate.

Transform Teaching and Learning

ThingLink is a flexible classroom tool that has a tremendous amount of potential for transforming teaching and learning. With the click of a button, users can turn any image into a multimedia rich interactive graphic that includes video, images, audio, and links to web content. Individual images can also be added to ThingLink Channels to create albums of interactive images. Teachers can create differentiated instructional resources, students can develop 21st Century Skills as they use ThingLink to present knowledge and ideas, and everyone can dig deeper into content that is available 24/7.

Just about anything is possible with ThingLink!  Here are a few ideas.

  • Create digital teacher and student profiles and portfolios

  • Enrich student drawings, infographics and maps with rich media

  • Compose interactive, mobile friendly slideshows and “image books”

  • Cocument a field trip … and more!

 

Engage in Self-Paced Summer Learning Through Constructive Play

Summer is a time when teachers can enjoy a break from the highly scheduled daily routines of the school year. The ThingLink Teacher Challenge is designed to fit nicely into any teacher’s summer lifestyle because the challenges are flexible and available 24/7.

Weekly challenges will be introduced through the ThingLink Blog. Teachers can visit the blog at anytime, from any location, and find all the resources necessary to complete the challenge. After that, participants can have a bit of fun engaging in constructive play to create interactive images to meet the challenge. Final products for sharing can be submitted at anytime through an easy form right on the blog. Participants can get inspired by the growing channel of interactive images submitted by other participants by revisiting the blog.

The ThingLink Teacher Challenge is designed to support learning at all tech comfort levels and there are no rigid deadlines to interfere with your summer plans. So progress at your own pace and enjoy the freedom and time you need to experiment through constructive play.

Connect and Share with a Community of Learners to Build Your PLN

As use of technology in the classroom becomes more prevalent, it can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming to keep up if we are trying to do it all on our own. The ThingLink Teacher Challenge is designed around the idea that we are all learning together.

One of the of the goals of this professional development opportunity is to connect, collaborate and build on the ideas of others through the use of a personal learning network. The PLN will provide participants with support, motivate us to keep learning, and empower us with the confidence to try something new. The PLN will enable participants to grow professionally, share expertise and discover new and inspirational ways of teaching and learning.

Participate in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge

Discover the possibilities that exist when you take the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this summer! Getting started is simple.

  1. If you don’t have a ThingLink Teacher account sign up for one at www.thinglink.com/edu

  2. Follow ThingLink_EDU on Twitter and stay tuned to the ThingLink Blog to learn about weekly challenges

  3. Sign up through this simple form. There is a spot on the form to ask questions and make suggestions.

ThingLink Teacher Challenge at a Glance

  • ThingLink Teacher Challenge starts on June 9th, 2014.

  • Weekly challenges will be posted on the ThingLink Blog and shared through ThingLinkEDU on Twitter. (Follow)

  • Challenges will be flexible to encourage participation at all tech comfort levels.

  • Participants can submit entries for any challenge throughout the contest, allowing everyone to progress at their own pace.

  • Submissions will be curated and featured weekly on the ThingLink Blog , ThingLink.com and social media channels.

  • Participants will be encouraged to share and comment on the work of others and make connections through social media. Please use ThingLink Touch button to like the work of your colleagues!

  • Please use hashtag #TLChallenge on Google+ Page, Facebook Page, Pinterest Board, Scoop.It

  • Participants will be encouraged to blog about the experience and/or repost in the hopes of gaining momentum as the contest goes.

Sponsorship Opportunities for the ThingLink Teacher Challenge

Perhaps the biggest rewards for participating in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge are intrinsic, but tangible prizes are certainly a special way to acknowledge teachers for hard word too. For this reason we are inviting sponsors to participate. If you are interested in  learning more about sponsoring the ThingLink Challenge, please send an email to education@thinglink.com.

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Create a Multimedia Memory Book

As another school year comes to a close it’s time for students and teachers to celebrate and reflect on all the wonderful experiences from the school year. ThingLink is the perfect tool for creating multimedia memory books to help students capture memories, preserve them, and share them with friends and family across the globe.

Explore this Multimedia Memory Book

How to Create a Multimedia Memory Book

Brainstorm Ideas

To generate excitement and help students tap into their memories, start with a class brainstorming session. Generate enough ideas so students have plenty of choices to make, allowing them to create their own unique memory books. After all there are some things students might not want to remember and this assignment will be more meaningful and authentic if it doesn’t resemble a recipe. Use the sample memory book for ideas to get started and then ask your students for their ideas.

Memory Book Ideas

Create Interactive Images

Once ideas have been generated, students can start by creating one interactive image at a time. At this point, they don’t have to worry about following any particular order. They will put the images in order when they assemble their channel.

If you and your student are new to ThingLink, you should understand the order of creating original interactive images.

  1. Create the image.

  2. Upload the image to ThingLink

  3. Start tagging

There is one thing to note before you get started. If you want to include text headings on each page of the memory book, you must create the original image with a heading before you upload it to ThingLink. You can do this using a number of free and user friendly digital tools, so choose a tool that you and your students are already comfortable with.

Ideas include:

  • Create a PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Docs Slide with a heading and an image. Take a screenshot of the slide and upload it to ThingLink.

  • Use a free online photo editing tool, such as Photo Flexr or PicMonkey. Upload the image and use the built in tools to add text. Save the finished image to your computer and upload it to ThingLink.

  • On a tablet, try Pages, Keynote, Educreations, or any app that allows you to add text to an image. Take a snapshot and then upload it to ThingLink from your Photos.

Create a ThingLink Channel

Once students have created the individual interactive images, the last step is to assemble the memory book by adding the images to a ThingLink Channel. Explore this interactive image to learn how to create a ThingLink Channel in 3 steps:

Final Thoughts

I really like the idea of Using ThingLink to create an interactive memory book because it allows students to share their thoughts and celebrate their accomplishments through multimedia in a way that meets their individual learning styles. In addition, since there are no materials needed to create the memory books, the playing field is leveled. All students have access to the resources available on the Internet, as long as we provide accommodations for those students who are not connected at home. Finally, since this flexible tool is online and available 24/7, students can put as much time and energy into the project as they see fit. There will be no erasure marks, it won’t get lost, rained on, crumpled or ruined, and students can continue to add to it their own memory book as time goes on, even after the final bell rings.

Summer Professional Development Opportunity for Teachers

The ThingLink Teacher Challenge

ThingLink Teacher Challenge

Join me and ThingLink for a free, self-paced, online summer professional development opportunity designed to help teachers transform teaching and learning with ThingLink.

Sign up to receive news about the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this summer. We will kick off weekly challenges beginning on June 9, 2014.

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Using ThingLink to Express Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 5th -9th this year and ThingLink is an amazing tool for showing teachers how much their efforts are appreciated. It’s fun, it’s flexible and users have access to all the resources available on the world wide web. Anything is possible with ThingLink.

No one would would argue that a handwritten note, card or poem from an appreciative student is something to treasure, but that type of activity only appeals to the learning styles of certain types of students. It’s safe to say that some students will not be able to create a product they are proud of to truly express their appreciation if only given one option.

Why not kick it up a notch and offer students flexible choices to ensure their success? Let students choose from a variety of options including text, images, audio and video to express themselves in a way that allows them to share their talents and take pride in their gift? All you need is a ThingLink Teacher account and access to a computing device. Create it at home or at school on any device that’s available at the time.

Show your teacher you care with a teacher appreciation gift created with ThingLink!

 

 

 

Each hand in the image above is an icon with a link to an idea to express teacher appreciation. (This is also part of a Channel that I can tweet to get some attention.)

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ThingLink Through the SAMR Lens

ThingLink Through the SAMR LensIf you are a teacher with a passion for teaching, ThingLink is an essential tool for your toolkit.  This flexible tool is well-suited for helping students dig deeper into content as they create. Learning to use ThingLink is an adventure worth exploring.

Getting Started with ThingLink

To find your starting point for learning to use ThingLink in the classroom, it’s helpful to examine the tool through the lens of the SAMR model of tech integration, developed by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D. This model is extremely useful for the work I do to help teachers leverage the power of technology because it’s simple, easy to gauge, and something to strive for.

Teachers in the substitution and augmentation phase use technology to accomplish traditional tasks and enhance learning. These stages are necessary and should not be skipped, but the learning gain for students is the same with or without the technology.  At the modification and redefinition levels, technology is used to transform learning and embrace opportunities that are not possible without technology. At these levels, the task changes. This means that ‘Teaching Above the Line’ is where the real learning gains occurs.

 

 

ThingLink Through the SAMR Lens

ThingLink itself is a tool that starts “Above the Line”  because creating a multimedia enhanced interactive image requires technology. It is important to go through each of the stages of SAMR to avoid the pitfalls of chaos that can result by jumping in too quickly. This includes acquiring knowledge and skills to prepare for responsibly creating and publishing interactive images. Keep in mind that  the goal is to “Teach Above the Line”, but when you and your students get there, you will want to be comfortable with attribution, copyright and publishing. Start by creating and working with images.

Substitution: Create an Original Image

At the substitution level it’s important to remember that teachers are engaging in tasks that could be completed without  technology or with limited older technology. There are opportunities at this level to introduce students to the concept of copyright and intellectual property as they create original images and work with their own photos to present knowledge and ideas. All too often in school, students create posters that consist of printed images from the web, so this is a good time to stop and help them understand that those images are the intellectual property of the creator and, unless they are in the public domain or licensed for reuse, they are not free to use.

 

 

Augmentation: Create an Original Digital Image

Perhaps the most tremendous benefit of  technology is the ability to provide students with equal access to virtually unlimited resources available on an Internet connected device. At the augmentation level, technology greatly enhances the process of creating an original image because of the increased number of flexible options available. In simple terms, all student have access to an unlimited number of  colors to draw with, which exceeds the number of colors that could be available in any classroom. More importantly, the eraser is a game changing tool, unmatched with paper and pencil.

To make good use of working at the augmentation level, teachers should continue to explore digital citizenship with students and help them understand the concept of public domain and copyright free image use. Students can explore drawing and painting programs to create original digital images, and they can explore resources for finding images that are in the public domain or licensed for reuse. Additionally students can explore online resources to manipulate photos and create digital posters that they label with simple text.

The best way to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to responsibly create and publish images is to learn through constructive play. Engage students in tasks that require them to create their own original digital images to communicate ideas and demonstrate learning.

Modification: Create Interactive Images

When teachers and their students are comfortable creating and working responsibly with images, it’s time to “Teach Above the Line” with ThingLink!  The flexibility of this tool makes it well-suited for a variety of uses in the classroom. Custom icons can be used for differentiation and multimedia can be used to meet the unique learning needs of students.

At this level there is a lot of room for growth. Teachers and their students should start by creating simple interactive images about familiar concepts to get a feeling for the ease of use of the tool. After that, the sky is the limit. Start with an image. Define it through multimedia.  Present ideas. Pack it full of content. Create links to amazing sites. Explore, share and create at the modification level with ThingLink in the classroom!

Redefinition: Invent, Innovate and Inspire

At the redefinition level, teachers and their students have the ability to design a learning task or identify a goal, then make it happen with ThingLink by integrating appropriate tools from their own toolkit. ThingLink is an amazing tool at this level because it can be used to weave together a web of tools to support just about any learning experience imaginable. Use of technology at this level is seamless because it has become natural and comfortable. ThingLink provides teachers with the power to invent, innovate and inspire.

Here is an example of my most recent ThingLink invention designed to extend a One School, One Book initiative into the homes of families. In addition to sharing recorded chapters for all to enjoy, the interactive image is used to meet a variety of my own goals for integrating technology at the school. The best part about this graphic is watching it grow as new ideas develop.

Putting It All Together

Explore this SAMR and ThingLink Ladder for a big picture view of the ideas presented here.

 

 

 

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Weaving a Web of Flexible Tools with ThingLink

ThingLink is a flexible tool for teaching and learning that can be used for a wide variety of purposes in education. At it’s most basic level, teachers and students can start with an image, define it through multimedia and pack it full of content to present knowledge and ideas. It’s a great tool for teachers at any level of tech integration because of it’s simple, flexible design.

A Simple Flexible Tool

Teachers don’t need a lot of tech expertise to create a ThingLink interactive image, they just need to know how to copy and paste. My advice to teachers just starting out with ThingLink is to spend about 15 minutes engaging in constructive play to create an interactive image about something familiar, like “How to Make Sun Tea” or “Favorite Recipes”. This allows users to experience the ease of use of the tool itself without getting distracted by the possibilities that exist for designing more powerful activities. After trying the tool, teachers will soon discover that the simplicity of ThingLink will allow them to keep the focus on teaching without having to struggle with learning how to use the technology.

ThingLink images are powered by ideas and intellect. Right out of the box, teachers can use the tool to provide students with differentiated learning experiences that support unique learning styles through the use of multimedia. As teachers become more comfortable with tech integration, this flexible tool will continue to support their needs. More experienced tech users can truly test their creativity and challenge themselves to think outside of the box when designing powerful learning experiences. For this reason, ThingLink is one of the most frequently used tools in my toolkit.

My Web of Flexible Learning Tools

A flexible digital toolkit is essential for helping teachers design learning experiences that leverage the power of technology to transform learning. As I reflect on my own digital toolkit, I recognize that all of the tools I frequently use are blank canvasses powered by features I can use to design any type of learning experience I can imagine. The tools in my toolkit allow me to start with the learning goals and higher order thinking skills and make use of the technology to design learning experiences that provide students with opportunities to achieve those goals.

Please explore my web of flexible learning tools, powered by ThingLink.

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Create Interactive Albums with ThingLink Channels

Now teachers and students can create collections of work within the safety of their own ThingLink Teacher classroom with an exciting new feature known as Channels.

ThingLink Channels provide users with the ability to organize images into embeddable interactive albums with the click of a button. Teachers and students have the flexibility to build Channels that are connected to learning goals and compliment classroom routines.  Channels are a fantastic addition to ThingLink Teacher, with many opportunities for use for teaching and learning. 

Ways to Use ThingLink Channels

 

Create a ThingLink Channel in 3 Steps

  1. Select an image and click the Edit icon.
  2. Click on the Add to channel link, just above the image.
  3. Select a channel or Create a New Channel, then click Done.

ThingLink has plans to continue to improve the functionality of Channels. One improvement in the works is an option to arrange images within a channel. They are also exploring the possibility of adding other people’s images to a channel, with notification features. All of this is in the works! Suggestions from teachers are always welcome at ThingLink, so if you have an idea please share it.

Learn to Use New ThingLink Teacher Features

Explore a Channel of resources and tutorials to help you build your own ThingLink Classroom.

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3 Ways to Use ThingLink Custom Icon Sets

ThingLink Custom Icon Sets are a new feature available to teachers with premium accounts. They offer  a whole new layer of opportunities for using interactive images for teaching and learning. Think of Custom Icon Sets as visual labels that can be used to further define an image and provide a glimpse of the type of content to be explored behind the link. They are fun to create and have many great uses in the classroom. Here are three ideas to get you started.

Custom Icon Sets for Differentiation

Create differentiated multimedia content launchers to help students identify resources to match their personal learning needs. Teach students to self-select content at their own ability levels. Use colors to identify 3 levels of difficulty for links to text based information.  Create Custom Icon Sets to represent types of resources, such as video, text, audio, images or games. Start simple and before you know it you will be adding layers of differentiation at a glance.

Custom Icon Sets to Guide the Learning

Take students on a journey through a collection of resources by using numbers as Custom Icon Sets on interactive images. Grab students’ attention and walk them through a path as they explore, learn and interact with content. Take students on a virtual fieldtrip, design a webquest type journey, guide them through a process or teach a specific skill. Add order to your interactive images with Custom Icon Sets.

Custom Icon Sets to Create Something Original

Here is an example of something original I created while engaging in constructive play to explore Custom Icon Sets

Create a Custom Icon Set

Explore this interactive image to view the illustrated steps for creating a Custom Icon Set. Be sure to watch the video for a guided walk through.

 

Parting Thoughts

As an early adopter of ThingLink, I’ve spent quite a bit of time designing interactive images. Throughout this time I’ve had many thoughts and ideas about creating additional icons to improve the design process, but I never dreamed of having the flexibility to design my own. I believe this amazing new feature will be extremely useful for inspiring creativity and redefining learning. This is going to be fun!

ThingLink Custom Icon Sets are available with ThingLink Teacher Premium accounts. For an upgrade, email education@thinglink.com

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Build Your ThingLink Classroom

ThingLink is working hard to pack teacher accounts full of useful features for building and managing the ThingLink Classroom. I am excited to be guest blogging here in February and March to demonstrate great ways to use the new features. Let’s start from the beginning by taking a look at how teachers can create a ThingLink Classroom and add students.

Create Your Own ThingLink Classroom

Good news! When teachers sign up for a ThingLink Teacher account, a classroom group is now automatically created. Just sign up and grab your own classroom to experience the benefits of collecting, organizing and viewing the work of your students in one place!

 

Create Student Accounts

ThingLink has streamlined the sign-up process by providing teachers with the power to create student accounts from a simple list of names. Just pop your list into the designated box in your ThingLink Teacher account and the system will generate a list of student logins. After the first login, students can change their passwords if they choose. This feature is sure to help students get up and running in a snap.

Explore this interactive image and be sure to watch the video to see how easy it is to create student accounts with your ThingLink Teacher account.

Launch Your ThingLink Classroom

After students have accounts within your ThingLink Classroom, it’s time to let them to try out the tool. My advice is to start with something simple for use as an exploratory activity. Let students create an interactive image with familiar content to allow them to experience the ease of use of the tool in a way that doesn’t strain their brain. After students get their feet wet, you will discover many possibilities for teaching and learning with ThingLink.

Final Thoughts

ThingLink has been my trusted tool for quite some time and  I am truly excited to watch it grow into an amazing tool for students and teachers. Stay tuned for more exciting new ThingLink Teacher features to help you build your ThingLink Classroom.

Learn More and Build Your PLN

Want to learn more about the ThingLink Classroom? Join us for the ThingLink Challenge This Summer.

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ThingLink Launches Teacher Accounts with Safe Search and Student Signup

Today we have released a significant update to one of our most active communities: education. This update includes the following features

* Google Plus login

* Student signup: Teachers can now register new students on their behalf.  The students do not need to have a working email address, yet they all will receive an individual user account.”

* Automatic group creation on Teacher sign-up: Teachers will automatically get one group to which they can add students by listing their names

* Automatic student/teacher signup based on email domain. School districts can now apply for Thinglink Educational status, which means that students can automatically sign up with their own accounts, and receive teacher/student privileges

* Safe browsing environment: If the logged-in user is assigned student status, they can only see images created by other people with student status, teacher status, or images specifically curated by Thinglink Staff.  This affects search, streams, hashtags, and channels.

* Google Video safe search. If the user is assigned student status, we automatically apply the maximum limits to Google Video search.

The next three weeks are going to be all about ThingLink for educational use. We are extremely happy to have Susan Oxnevad as ThingLink’s guest blogger for February and March. In addition to insightful articles, Susan will also create video tutorials and demonstrate how teachers can make the best use of the new features. Here is her first article on Creating Interactive Albums with ThingLink’s new Channel feature.

We look forward to keeping you posted on the new features, and ThingLink’s next steps in education. Would you like to review some our new features on your blog, organise a webinar or training? Please drop us an email to education@thinglink.com!

For signing up as a Teacher on ThingLink, please use this link!

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