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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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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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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How do You Thinglink?

by Patricia Merlino, ThingLink Certified Educator and Trainer

Six years ago I first discovered ThingLink. There was only one way to ThingLink with interactive images.ThingLink has come a long way. Now, there are multiple ways toThingLink. Interactive images expanded with many new features, Google integration, and an extensive library of icons. Thinglink 360 combines virtual reality images with interactivity making an immersive experience even more engaging.  ThingLink video combines with interactions as viewers watch transforming passive to active learning. The question of “How do you Thinglink?” is certainly one to ponder. There are options.

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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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