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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.
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:
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!
The new individual teacher plan includes all features, such as 360 editing, for one classroom (35 students) at $35 per year. The plan is available for new signups. Read more about who should sign up or transition to the new plan.