The tool for teaching that I will present today is called Thinglink. A Thinglink is a picture or a video that you annotate by adding hot spots. Hot spots are circles on pictures; you can write a comment or information and share a link or a video in those. If you add a video, it will start on the same page as you put it, over the picture. You can add as many hot spots as you want on a picture. Every time you drag your mouse cursor on one of them, it opens a little window showing your comments and links. Thinglink is also an app for ipads and iphones. To annotate a picture, you can upload a picture from your computer, you can copy a web link, you can import one from Facebook, and you can import one from Flickr. Here is an example of thinglink I made on Divergent. The fact that the app and website offer a free version is a major plus for students and teachers. Laura Conley, a professor, said: “Thinglink is easy to learn. You can basically start using it in minutes!” and I couldn’t agree more! I first arrived to the website not knowing what a Thinglink was and after watching a three minute video on YouTube I knew how the basic features of the website worked.
When you first go to the website, you can chose to get started as a normal user or you can choose to get started as a student or teacher. By choosing to have a teacher account, you have the possibility to add up to 105 students (to have more, you have to pay for the full version). What is good about Thinglink is that teachers can create groups and receive a notification every time someone posts a Thinglink. A project that could be good to do would be for secondary students to present a painting and describe the elements in the painting, the techniques used, etc. For example, they could describe The Birth of Venus, say who are present in of the painting, describe the setting, and the choice of colors. Mary, a middle school teacher from New York mentioned why she likes the app as a teacher: ‘’This app provides students with a quick and easy way to tag and make two-dimensional, non-interactive photos more interactive. By tagging images, students can demonstrate understanding, provide links/URLs to supplemental videos or websites and truly create depth to what might otherwise be basic content.’’
Andrew, a teacher mentioned: “If used to have students select relevant information and summarize their learning, it can be a quick, interactive activity that helps foster understanding.”
It is great for visual students. It can also develop their creativity. It turns an assignment some would find boring into something amusing. Even elementary students could use it to, for example, present the characters of a movie they saw by using a photo of the cast and using hot spots on every member and then do an oral presentation on their movie.
To conclude, this app would be good for school projects, to integrate ICTs in class, to develop creativity, to help them understand concepts more easily, to develop social skills (by working in teams or doing oral presentations), to motivate students, and to have students feel like they are playing when they are really working.