What does it do?
ThingLink is a free tool allowing you to enhance images or videos by adding 'touch points' or 'hotspots' in order to add a layer of interactivity over the image or video. You can add links out to other resources - web pages, video clips - or add notes or labels to the image. ThingLink are also experimenting with 360° images, and you should be able to upload panorama views from your camera phone and annotate them in them in the same way. It's a simple idea but excellently produced, and it could prove very useful in many topics where you want to bring multimedia content together in a focused and context-sensitive way.
How does it work?
Once you've set up an account you can get moving very quickly. ThingLink starts with an image (or a video if you've selected a Premium account) which you upload to the editing space. Once you've done that, you select where on the image a hotspot should appear. This opens up an editing box on the left of the screen where you decide what the hotspot should link to - video content, another image, a website, or simply a note or label with some explanation or text. You can customize the shape, size and colour of the hotspot 'bullet', but generally there's not much customization available.
Once you've finished editing and saving, you can then decide how to make the image available to your public. You can generate html code to embed it into a website, share it via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr, Tackk, Edmodo) or simply generate a URL to distribute or drop onto a website or MyDundee (other learning platforms are available).
You can also set up 'channels' which people can follow, and post images directly to those channels. If you're a lecturer and planning to use ThingLink consistently you may want to set up a channel for your module or the whole or part of your teaching programme.
Click here to see a ThingLink I made earlier, about ten minutes after setting up an account. Viewers of a nervous disposition who are easily offended by 1970s glam rock should think carefully before they click on it.
When would you use it?
Students could use Thinglink to share their learning with each other, particularly if working collaboratively on a project. Common Sense Education website suggests in their review that "students can use ThingLink to tag a collage of images related to a specific subject, to tag maps and charts with annotations and related videos and recordings, or to create a story told in tagged images".
Teaching Staff might find it useful to use with students in order to distribute resources with added content. Common Sense Education suggest that ThingLink might be "a useful formative and summative assessment tool, providing teachers with a great way to evaluate what students know, both midway through a unit and at its conclusion". The use of ThingLink 'channels' (see above) aligned to study themes or modules might help to support learning in context.
There are lots of useful ideas about using ThingLink in an educational setting on the ThingLink blog.
Here's a short video overview of ThingLink;
Here's a slightly longer and more in-depth tutorial with a bit more detail on functionality;
Where can I access it?
ThingLink is free and available via their website or as an iOS/Android smartphone/ tablet application. The basic version provides users with the photo/image annotation feature - if you want to start working with video, a Teacher Pro account is required at $35 per year, and to use 360° images you'll need to purchase the Teacher Premium version for $120. The basic version is fine for most of your needs, however.
ThingLink adds an extra dimension to images and allows you to transform them into learning objects, bringing together linked content in one place, connecting out from the image you've chosen. It's lightning fast to create and edit, meaning the time you spend using it is easily outweighed by the potential benefits of the functionality.
There don't appear to be many products out there like ThingLink, so it may be a good one to get to know.
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