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Ulla

Author Archives: Ulla

FEATURED PROJECT: CLASSROOM AT WINSTON PREPARATORY SCHOOL CREATES AN INTERACTIVE AUDIO POSTER TO REFLECT KINDNESS

Elisabeth Levine has been an educator for 18 years. She currently works at the Winston Preparatory School (WPS) a school for students with language-based learning challenges in grades 4-12.  As soon as WPS became a 1:1 school, Elisabeth saw new exciting ways to engage students in learning, expressing their thinking and collaborating with peers. 

“I first learned about Thinglink while reading the HyperDoc Handbook written by Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, and Kelly Hilton. Working as a literature teacher I really liked their idea of an interactive Book Bento Box,  which is an alternative way for students to express a response to literature that combines personal expression, visual arts, technology, creativity and hands-on compilation of the bento box contents.” 

Elisabeth realized that for a teacher, this approach would offer an alternative way to assess students’ comprehension. She tested the Book Bento approach with her classroom, and it was a success.

Image carousel: “One of us is lying”, a Book Bento project by Elisabeth Levine

Developing creativity and and self-expression using student’s actual voice 

Through a fellow educator, Teresa Ronco, Elisabeth was introduced to the book One Drop of Kindness by Jeff Kubiak

“World Kindness Day was coming up and I thought it would be nice to invite Jeff via Google Hangout into my classroom. Our literature book this year was Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde and Jeff’s book seemed like a nice complement to our current reading.”

To get the classroom excited about the visit, Elisabeth decided to invite her students to reflect about kindness in a creative project. Her lesson plan included the following steps:

  1. Assign students to create their own digital kindness badges using Google Drawing 
  2. Students download each badge as PNG and upload each badge on a collaborative Google Slide  
  3. Take a photo of the book cover and insert onto Google Drawing
  4. Copy and Paste each badge on the book cover image on Google Drawing
  5. Download as PNG and upload on ThingLink
  6. Open ThingLink editor on one computer/tablet and ask students to take turns and record an audio note on their badge about what kindness means to them.

Tip: Instead of posting the badges on the poster, students can upload them on the individual tags that contains their audio recording.

Image: Students’ badges were used to decorate the cover of Kubiak’s book, and each of the badges was annotated with an icon in the shape of a drop. 

Summary and results: “Can we do another project like this?”

The project is a great example of how a teacher working with students with language-based learning challenges can use new technology to support creative collaboration and self-expression. In this case, Jeff Kubiak’s book One Drop of Kindness inspired Elisabeth and her students to:

  • Reflect on an abstract topic in a creative and personal way
  • Document student ideas using both their design skills (badges) and individual voices (audio notes)
  • Engage in discussion by listening to and talking about individual student responses
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Featured project: An interactive timeline of the Anglo-American School of Moscow engages students and parents to learn about the school’s history

This example shows how interactive infographics on large touch screens can be used to create engaging exhibitions in a physical space.


Image: A student exploring the digital timeline at The Anglo-American School of Moscow. Photo credit: AASM

The Anglo-American School of Moscow (AASM) is an independent, international school catering for students between the ages of 4 and 18, chartered by the American, British and Canadian embassies. As their communication and development department started preparing for the school’s 70 year anniversary,   graphic designer and public relations coordinator Anastasia Osminina started looking for interactive touch screen solutions for their exhibition.

“We researched online, and ThingLink came up as a viable option with a simple interface and a short learning curve.”

A digital timeline

The main hallway of the AASM features a timeline that tells about the history of the school from 1949 to 2009. For the anniversary celebration, the idea was to replace the old timeline with a digital version that lets students interact with the timeline by clicking on various pieces of additional information embedded in the infographics.

The digital timeline consists of multiple infographics that are published both on the school website and in the main hallway using 40-inch vertical screens.

Engaging students to document the school’s history

What comes next? “We are challenging students to document the last 10 years of history digitally using ThingLink. Going forward,  students can create a new page to our timeline every new school year, ” says Lyubov Bordaeva from the AAS Communications team.

Summary and results

This project is a great example of how interactive visuals on large touch screens can help turn a physical space into a place for exploration and learning. The feedback for the timeline project was overwhelmingly positive:

  • Visitors, alumni, parents and students were able to interact and learn about the school’s history in a new, deeper way
  • Students said that the interactive screen allowed them to learn new facts about the school and its history overall
  • Empowering students to author pages in the history timeline drove engagement, interest and learning
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Louise Jones joins ThingLink as social purpose and community manager

We are excited to share that Louise Jones joins ThingLink as Social Purpose and Community Manager. Louise will help grow ThingLink’s partner and education community in the UK and EMEA region through large-scale education initiatives and partnerships that help enhance learning and teaching using smart visual learning and mixed reality technologies.

Louise is an internationally recognized education technology professional, advocate, presenter and trainer, who is driven by changes in youth culture and the impact technology has on the way young people live and learn. Until recently, Louise held a senior role within the EMEA Google for Education Team as UK Regional Manager and Accessibility specialist. Prior to this, she was The Highland Council, Scotland ICT in Learning Manager.

Louise has worked with partners in several countries and learning communities to support digital transformation in education and enterprise. In 2019 she was a finalist in the Edufuturist of the Year 2019 and co-chaired the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference in Edinburgh, UK.

Founded in Finland, ThingLink is a pioneer in interactive visual media, and the most popular authoring tool for user-generated mixed reality in education and eLearning. In 2018, ThingLink was awarded with the UNESCO ICT in Education prize.

Are you a UK-based partner, re-seller, educator or trainer? Contact Louise at louise@thinglink.com or schedule an appointment to meet ThingLink at BETT 2020!

 

 

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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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Featured project: Using ThingLink to document a schoolwide study of archeology and prehistoric times

This post features Punkaharju elementary school and their “Dirt Diggers” archeology project that engaged all students to learn about stone age in Lake Saimaa, Finland. The goals of the project were to: 1) engage students to learn about prehistoric periods across age groups and disciplines in their local environment, and 2) help students understand a topic from multiple subject perspectives and through their own activities.

Photo: Student conducted expert interviews and included them in their documentation of the project  

Some months ago Saila Heikkinen, the principal, and Arttu Laukkanen, the deputy principal of Punkaharju school got a unique opportunity to engage their students in an archeology project that tool place only a half mile (under 1 km) away from the school grounds.  “Our school’s slogan is “Together we are more”, and this project successfully demonstrated what this can mean in practice in a concrete outdoors learning environment. ThingLink gave us a great platform to document all the different tasks and activities, and to connect them into a virtual world to learn about the stone age.” 

Photo: Arttu Laukkanen from Punkaharju school presenting the “Dirt Diggers in Saimaa” project on a Yeti tablet

Engaging the whole school in project-based learning

“Dirt Diggers” project was funded by the Finnish Cultural Fund and in addition to three elementary schools, it engaged participants from the local museum and cultural association.

For over a week, students learned about prehistoric periods and archeology based on their own interests and research questions that they had defined in the beginning of the project. Among these questions were:

  • What kind of tools were used for hunting and building?
  • What kind of food they ate and how did they prepare the food?
  • What kind of prehistoric periods are associated with the Lake Saimaa region?
  • How did a village look like in the stone age?

Student groups used clay, wood, leather, and other natural materials to build artifacts, scale models, instruments, dresses, artwork and a dance choreography representing the various aspects of prehistoric living. One team “Survivors” spent 24 hours hiking and sleeping the night in the forest. Another team “Gatherers” picked mushrooms and berries preparing for the hike. 

The project also appointed a media team to document all the different activities using ThingLink. This team included 26 students between grades 3 and 9. The team took several closeup photos of the various projects and artifacts, they conducted interviews of experts and students, searched and edited text and videos about various related topics to be included in 360 degree virtual environment consisting of five interactive scenes:

  • Archeological site
  • Scale model of a prehistoric village
  • Lake Saimaa geography
  • Living and hunting areas
  • Project reflections at school

Explore the different scenes below in a virtual tour created by the media team at Punkaharju school!

Results: 

  • The project built positive and inclusive school culture
  • It enabled collaboration across age groups and subject areas 
  • It taught students about the variety of perspectives that can be applied to study a topic and how these perspectives related to each other 
  • Students connected with external experts to deepen their knowledge of archeology and local history
  • Enthusiasm: Students were 100% engaged in their projects 
  • Student teams produced a variety of artifacts and performances

Interested in learning more about the project? Contact Saila or Arttu @punkaharjunkoulu on Facebook!

 

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ThingLink Teacher Challenge 2019 Task 1: Document potential research problems for student-centered learning

In classroom use, ThingLink is a visual documentation tool that can support the various phases of active, student-centered learning. 

Project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and problem-based learning are constructivist approaches to education that develop the learners skills for research, problem-solving and collaboration. The process is based on authentic questions and problems identified by students, and finding information and explanation models to research and solve them. An important aspect of student-centered learning is documentation. Students are encouraged to use multiple sources and forms of media to collect information and to share it with others as they deepen their understanding of the chosen topic.

 

 

Image: Active student-centered learning model, translated and adopted from Lakkala, M. & Lallimo, J. (2002). 

TASK 1: Document potential research questions onsite using text and photo annotations

Our first teacher challenge task focuses on taking multimedia notes outside the classroom. We will document potential research questions in our chosen real-world context using text and photo annotations. You will learn:

Technical skills: Taking multimedia notes using ThingLink mobile app or a desktop editor.  

Pedagogic skills: Basic understanding of how to apply multimedia documentation to different stages of a student-centered learning process.

 

Our topic: Biodiversity

The context for our first task is biodiversity, broadly speaking, what does it mean, how do we understand it, what are examples of it locally, how does it impact our lives, etc. Our task is to document potential research questions to study biodiversity using simple text and photo annotations. 

Example:

Task description

1: Visit an outdoor location: a forest, park, garden, or your own backyard, and make observations about its biodiversity. Think about questions that you would be interested in learning more about.

2: Take photos of the location using your phone or tablet. 

3: Log on your teacher account on ThingLink.com. Select one or two background photos of the place and upload them to ThingLink.

4: Document observations and potential research questions on the image using text and photos.

5: When you are ready, submit your project using this form.

 

Tips:

If you use ThingLink mobile app for iOS or Android, you can also record notes and questions directly in the image. 

 

Further reading on the subject:

Lonka, Hakkarainen, Sintonen (2000): Progressive inquiry learning for children — Experiences, possibilities, limitations

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FEATURED PROJECT: Build a Virtual Immigration Museum to Learn About History

 

Educator: Karalee Nakatsuka teaches U.S. History at First Avenue Middle School in Arcadia. In a collaborative project between their history and ELA departments, Mrs Nakatsuka’s students interviewed immigrants to America, and created interactive virtual museums to tell their immigrant stories.

Goals:

  • Get first-hand experience of immigration and the conditions that pushed immigrants out of their home country as well as the conditions which  pulled them to America.
  • Learn how to conduct an oral history interview
  • Develop digital production and presentation skills using multiple content creation tools

 

Tools used:

  • Google Slides, WeVideo, Animoto, Storyjumper or ScreenCastify for documenting immigrant story
  • Flipgrid for sharing reflections on immigration
  • Google Tour Creator to visualize the immigrant journey
  • ThingLink for creating an interactive virtual museum presentation

 

Background: From tri-fold boards to interactive images

Early on, Mrs Nakatsuka and the First Avenue Middle School 8th grade team started hosting an Ellis Island Day to give her students an opportunity to reflect on what it was like to immigrate to America.

Students took the information they learned from their oral histories and created tri-fold boards, introducing their immigrant’s experience to their classmates. On Ellis Island Day, they placed the boards in a classroom and designated this space their “Immigration Museum” where students had the opportunity to visit the museum and learn about their classmates’ stories.

This was a great activity, but it had its limitations:  

  • Many students ran out of time and couldn’t finish viewing the displays
  • Absent students and community members missed out on visiting the “Immigration Museum”
  • Display boards were bulky, challenging to set up and take down,  and students were limited in what they could share on each panel.
  • Absent students missed the opportunity to view their fellow students’ projects.  

 

Project idea: Student-created virtual museums

After Karalee started using ThingLink, she was inspired to teach her students how to document their work and create their own virtual museums. The process was organized into six tasks:

  1. Select a person with an immigrant story for the interview
  2. Conduct interview
  3. Write up interview
  4. Prepare a presentation and a movie/animation of the immigrant story
  5. Create a customized background image for the Virtual Museum –including a directory of embedded information
  6. Tag the Virtual Museum with ThingLink and include:
  • A picture of the interviewee
  • A picture or video of a meaningful artifact to the immigrant
  • A video highlighting one aspect of the immigrant’s experience (e.g. MyMap, PuppetPals, Animoto, WeVideo, Powtoons, Storyjumper)
  • A map tracing the immigrant’s journey
  • A slides presentation of the immigrant story (using information from their Oral History interview)
  • A Flipgrid video reflection of the immigrant story, and optionally
  • An audio or video capture including the immigrant’s voice.

This list of materials became the directory that helped viewers navigate the museum.

 

 

 

 

Finally, teachers can collect all of the individual virtual museum links into one starting image.

Compared to the three-fold cardboard display, virtual museum presentations had the following benefits:

  • They can be shared with everyone. This means absent students, community members, parents and fellow teachers can visit student museums even if they cannot attend the annual Ellis Island Day.
  • Students can include more information in their virtual museum–pictures, movies, their English oral history presentations, Flipgrid videos and more.
  • Provides  students opportunities to use and practice 21st century skills

 

Tips or comments for colleagues:

  • Previous knowledge of ThingLink will ensure student success.  Provide opportunities for students to use ThingLink throughout the school year. Scaffolding will ensure a successful product.  
  • Collect the personal museum urls from students on a Google Form and use these links to tag in the main room of the museum.
  • Create a ThingLink tour by linking multiple images; the students will be able to “travel” through the different countries/continents as they visit their schoolmates’ virtual museums.

 

Karalee’s testimonial:

“ThingLink provides endless opportunities for both student and teacher to bring history to life. It engages students to practice and develop their 21st century skills as they collaborate and problem solve during the creation of their museums. And unlike the tri-fold presentation boards of the past, student content is not limited, and the end product can be shared outside of the confines of the four walls of our classroom. ”

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FEATURED PROJECT: Improve Pre-service Teachers’ Understanding on Special Education through VR

Educator: Grace Ko is a Ph.D. student in Learning Technologies at the University of Texas, Austin. She has been a high school English teacher in Korea for the past seven years and has participated in multiple projects that involve technology integration in learning. Grace has worked as a research teacher at the Seoul Future School and developed mobile application WikiTalki to facilitate language learning in public schools. Currently, her research interest lies in the application of AR and AR in learning.

Goals:

  • Develop understanding of special education class management tactics for pre-service teachers
  • Provide the experience of visiting special education classroom in Virtual Reality (VR) format
  • Suggest a new type of professional development/ teacher training material in interactive VR experience

Tools used:

  • ThingLink for creating an interactive virtual classroom presentation
  • 360-degree camera with a monopod

Background: Tackling Lack of Special Education Training in Teacher Credential Programs 

Teacher credential program for general subject teachers only require one 3-credit course on the topic of special education. This course is often insufficient both in terms of information and practical experience for the teachers to serve students with special needs in the future.

Nevertheless, an increasing number of general education teachers face this challenge in their everyday teaching as integrated education model is becoming popular. Thus, Grace thought it is crucial to find innovative methods for pre-service teachers to have experiences that can lead to better understanding and preparation for teaching in integrated classrooms.

Project Idea: Innovating Professional Development with Interactive VR Experience

Grace wanted to try bringing the pre-service teachers into the special education classrooms through Virtual Reality (VR). She teamed up with Kai Osorio, a Policy Analyst at San Francisco United School District to visit two well-equipped special education classrooms in Northern California. In the first phase, Grace and Kai:

  1. Took  360 photos of special education classrooms
  2. Interviewed special education teachers and
  3. Documented each component in the classroom, such as Mood Meter, Math Tangibles, and Individual Working Stations that helped provide a more profound understanding of the special education tactics used in a classroom.


For creating the  VR experience, they reviewed various VR content creation platforms and chose ThingLink for five reasons:

  • The interface design is simple, modern, and EASY
  • Tour creator enables to see  the classroom environment from different angles
  • Editor supports embed links that lets teachers to read & watch more information
  • A broad variety of interactions to keep teachers focused throughout the tour 
  • Viewing in various high-end VR headsets to fully enable a virtual field experience

The virtual special education classrooms created by Grace and Kai are showcased at the ThingLink booth in the Microsoft Mixed Reality area at ISTE 2019, Philadelphia. 

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ISTE 2019: ThingLink announces major accessibility update with Immersive Reader integration

Most ThingLink images and videos include short text descriptions that give context to the visual experience and help the viewer understand what they are looking at. At ISTE 2019 we are launching an integration with Microsoft’s Immersive Reader, which means all text descriptions, lessons, virtual tours, infographics, and videos created with ThingLink’s new editor now come with an integrated reading tool and automatic language translation capability.

Here are six examples of how this can support educators and learners in classrooms and at workplaces:

1. Educational images, virtual tours, and other visual learning materials with text descriptions are accessible in Immersive Reader. This helps learners with an impaired ability to read or comprehend written words or grammar structure.

 Example 1 Reading tool 

2. Visual learning materials such as 360 degree tours are instantly available in multiple languages. The same lesson materials can be used to include and engage learners from different language backgrounds.

Example 2- Wudang mountains 360 lesson

3. Students can express themselves and work on assignments in multiple languages. This supports engagement and motivation in a situation where teacher and student do not speak the same language.

Example 3- Student presentation

4. Learning materials in any subject can be repurposed for language learning. This supports cross-disciplinary and collaborative teaching practices, as well as learning language in a familiar, meaningful context.

Example 4- Rotunda art and language lesson

5. Teachers in different countries can share lesson plans and learning materials. This creates a new kind of foundation for global, professional collaboration.

Example 5 Teacher community and PD

6. Students around the world can collaborate on assignments in their own native language.This helps build global capabilities and understanding of different cultures.

Example 6 Plastic pollution report field trip

If you are at ISTE 2019 in Philadelphia, come and say hello to the ThingLink team at the Microsoft booth #2900 and learn about the latest Immersive Reader integration and direct sharing to Teams assignments!

 

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7 updates to ThingLink editor: text labels, simplified tag selector, radar, and more!

 We are very excited to share seven feature updates to the new editor:
1. Support for text labels (size limit 140 symbols)
 Short text labels are a great way to guide attention to details, introduce new vocabulary, or help the viewer understand what they are looking at.
This is a photo of the new text label
2. All custom fields are empty by default
No more Niagara Falls! The tag preview starts from an empty canvas. Just add your text, title, link or photos!
3. Tag shape automatically adjusts to your content. See examples below:
+ If you only have three or fewer lines of text, it will align at the middle of the tag:
+ If you have more then three lines, the text will align to the left:
+ Same alignment when you upload an image:
 
+ Without title and link, text shows under the image
+  Images in a tag that have text on the right side will open in full when you click them. Click again and you see the text.
  
4. Support for markdown that unlocks bold and italic in tag text
Use asterisks for *bold* text, underscores for__italics_.
 
5. New look and behavior for the transition tag 
The new version has a line underneath the icon and it blinks on hover. Clicking transitions the viewer to the next scene.  Note: Transition does not anymore have a label so that we can differentiate it from the new text label.
6. Tour has a default BACK button for easier navigation 
The button appears automatically in the upper left corner of each image or video.
7. A Radar view for 360 images and videos 
The packman looking icon in the upper right corner is a radar that shows your position (yellow dot) and viewing range. This helps you get an idea of the number and location of hotspots in a scene.
We hope you like these updates — we will be sharing more exciting product news next week from ISTE, Philadelphia!
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