Four Ways to Think About Using Thinglink – Rethinking Thinglink

This post originally appeared on Free Tech for Teachers. See the original post here.

While there are some very creative web tools out there, ThingLink is one of my favorites. It has earned this status by passing several of my key benchmark-tests for the classroom:
It is dependable and accessible.

Students need not fear that their work will be lost as it automatically saves.

It is relatively easy to learn and use.

Rarely does a lesson become more about “ThingLink” than the topic about which students are trying to express their knowledge.
For new users, ThingLink allows you to upload a picture and active links to a variety of media, essentially making an image touchable as illustrated below.

 

 

Thinglink is a powerful tool, and some new uses are making it even more compelling. Beyond creating pictures with links, images, and videos, a “next level” exists that turns ThingLink into a powerful organizer, aggregation tool, and curator.

1. Student Organizational Tool
Use ThingLink to organize class projects with multiple online components. Thinglink not only supports the student doing the organization, but also helps their classmates who can now see the creation PROCESS as well as the final product. Teachers can create customized images for the students to use as backgrounds that support the desired process and could even serve as a project check-list.

Screen-Shot-2014-08-10-at-11.57.40-PM

Image Credit: Shawn McCusker

2. Digital Portfolios
Students can post links to their course work from throughout the year to a single ThingLink to connect projects, videos, artwork, essays, outlines, posters. etc. (See the example below.)

The power of using Thinglink as a portfolio is the ease with which it can combine media from varied places and then the simplicity with which it can be then be embedded in a web page or blog. Thinkglink converts lists of web links into polished and visually appealing posts. Once a Thinglink is embedded in a page, any additional changes made to it will automatically update.

 

3. Showcasing Classroom Learning
Thinglink can make sharing a class’ work with the rest of the school and community easier. The physical class bulletin board or hallway project display has long served as a way to share the work of an entire class with the rest of the school, parents or the community. ThingLink can make student work easily available to others, allowing the learning to be extended and valued throughout the entire community. The simplicity can make sharing with classes outside of your school, with classes across the country, or even with classes from around world all possible with a single link. Parents can access the work, creating real transparency and openness to the school community. Classwork tells the story of our classrooms, and as Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) says, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you.”

Image credit: Shawn McCusker

4. Assignment and Task Organizer
As the complexity of classroom tasks and assignments increases, it is important to present them in an easily understandable way. ThingLink can be used as a tool for teachers to deliver various components of an assignment to students – neatly placing all of them together in one place. Additionally, ThingLink images can be embedded into web pages, or shared via LMS systems such as Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle etc., allowing it to integrate seamlessly with other systems that the teacher already has in place. (This example was created by Joe Maher during a workshop this summer.)

 

 

Beyond its ability to function as a creative and organizational tool for learning, Thinglink is a powerful way to develop visual literacy in an age where visual communication is an important skill.

There are infinite ways to leverage the simple but effective powers of ThingLink for yourself and your students. If you have been using ThingLink in a unique and creative way, then I encourage you to add your example to the comments below.

 

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Teaching the Humanities with Technology

Today I participated in a webinar about integrating technology in Humanities classrooms. One of the reasons I like to participate in these events is that it forces me to evaluate myself and my practice and allows me to collect many new ideas. If you notice towards the end, while the others are talking I start writing ideas down. Look for future posts that share black out poetry and common craft videos. I’m also really excited to look into Vocabla (http://vocabla.com/ ) and Inkle Writer (http://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/) .

If you are interested I will be presenting on Creating a Culture of Writing at the EdTechTeacher Summit in July and I will leading variety of workshops  throughout June.

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April 24, 2014 · 5:13 pm

Beyond Worksheets, A True Expression of Student Learning

This is the 4th part of my 4 part series on “The New Economy of Information” 

 

Perhaps the most important effect of the new economy of information is the need to make sense of information that is around us. “In order to do this, students need to literally create their learning and demonstrate not just what they know, but what they can do.”

 

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/beyond-worksheets-a-true-expression-of-student-learning/

 

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Teachers’ Most Powerful Role? Adding Context

This article originally appeared on Mindshift/KQED.

“And it’s here, in these seemingly disjointed moments, that the expertise of the teacher is crucial to uniting the class’s learning. Teachers need to create the dynamic that transforms individual moments into a broader experience where the class benefits from the complete range of learning that has taken place.” 

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/teachers-most-powerful-role-adding-context/

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Creating and iPads… Combining the Physical & Digital to Create Multimedia Content

Today I participated in an EdTechTeacher webinar on how classes can benefit by using iPads to combine the digital and the physical. There is a temptation to go ALL digital when devices arrive in your classroom. In reality the power of the devices is that they can capture digital and real world content together. They can capture the process of learning as well as the product and give the teacher better insight into the learning process. This webinar discusses the possibilities as well as sharing many examples of projects and tools.

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April 1, 2014 · 7:33 pm

How Are Students’ Roles Changing in the New Economy of Information?

I cannot post the entire article here, but here is the link to the 2nd article in my “Economy of Information” series.  

At the core of finding and evaluating information from a wide variety of sources is the need to question and evaluate its validity to determine its true usefulness and worth. The student who actively challenges sources, as well as the thoughts and opinions of others in class, perches at the center of information processing. Social students excel in this environment as they collaborate and commingle ideas from individuals into greater community ideas, making them a potential asset to other students in their class rather than an interference.

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/03/how-are-students-roles-changing-in-the-new-economy-of-information/ 

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Teaching in the New (Abundant) Economy of Information

Excerpt: In the past, teachers gave life to learning for generations of students — no different than today. But they were operating in an environment of scarcity that would make today’s teachers cringe (and they do, every time the Internet is down for more than just a short while). As the information available and our ability to access it increases, this new economy of information is transforming the practice of teaching and the roles of both teacher and student.

Creating an effective 1:1 program is not so simple as distributing devices. schools will need to make the devices part of their school culture, socialize their students for appropriate use and commit themselves to working with teachers to redefine effective teaching practice. This post reflects on the how the role of the teacher is effected by the abundance of information in their classroom.

While I can’t republish the Mind/Shift article here in its entirety, here is a link to the full article.

 

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Writers Week XX

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For the past 4 years I have been honored to be a part of Writers Week at Fremd High School.

Writers week is an all school celebration of writing that spans every period, every day, all week.   For that entire week the whole school listens, students who are otherwise nameless in the halls become rock stars, and all of the stereotypes that have gained a foothold get slapped back and are momentarily placed on their heels.

It will make you think and it will make you feel and I love being a part of it.

This is my contribution to an amazing week. My presentation begins at 10:45.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/44194757

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February 24, 2014 · 11:51 am

Why It’s Time To Change How Students Cite Their Work

This article was originally posted on Edudemic on February 20th, 2014.  See the original post here.

When students write a paper, it goes without saying that they must cite the sources that they use in creating it. For generations, students have created note cards to document and organize these resources and/or submitted a bibliography page with their finished work.

In the modern classroom, student research and creation has taken on a new look. Before, when students created a poster, and then separately handed in a bibliography page to the teacher, justice was done and fair credit was given for the ideas used.

However, as widespread sharing of these projects becomes more common, and the internet allows students to reach an audience far beyond the school or classroom, we need to re-evaluate this procedure and address our responsibility to share these sources – not just with the teacher or school, but with all who might consume the project.

Without readily available sources to review, the audience cannot truly evaluate the validity of the project. They are left with what might be a beautiful and elegant project (the product) without knowing the sources used to construct it (the process).

Sharing sources with an audience is how we can focus on the PROCESS of creation rather than seeing only the PRODUCT.

Sharing Sources of Student Work

1. Include citations for individual pieces of information within the products themselves. This method has the advantage of sharing the sources with those who are consuming the project. For a classroom, this further engages the class in evaluating the sources that are used and allows them to ask “is that a valid source?” or “does that source have a perspective or a bias?”

2. Have students create a traditional bibliography page in Google Drive and include a link to it on their project. This will increase the likelihood that students will explore sources and evaluate projects at a deeper level. The same could be done with Evernote or a shared document in Dropbox.

3. For traditional paper projects, science fair projects, posters, mobiles or other display work, have the students provide a shortened URL to let others find and explore their works cited as they view the product. This will also work for electronic work such as PrezisGlogstersPoppletsGoogle Presentations or online videos. Shortnened URLs can be created at tinyurl.com or by using chrome extensions such as goo.gl URL shortener.

3. In place of a Tiny URL, use a QR code to link viewers to works cited. QR codes can be created for free using QR Kaywa or QRCode Monkey. QR codes are an image file that can be easily added to online projects, and are equally effective when added to the end of videos.

In our information-rich world, accessing information is a daily activity, making it essential to credit the sources being used. This is no less true in elementary school, high school or college. The “Culture of Creation” that emerges in connected classrooms makes this even more important, and putting it at the forefront of creation will allow for a healthy and necessary evaluation of how classwork is created and the ideas used to do so.

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MacBook, Chromebook, iPads: Why Schools Should Think Beyond Platforms

“If educational technology and 1:1 education are going to thrive, school leaders must be focused on constantly employing the best practices and tools in relation to the most pressing needs of their students. Managing and sustaining these programs means that the big choices don’t stop after a platform has been selected. Getting devices in the hands of students is just the beginning.”

I have listened to and been a part of many discussions or debates about the specific platform that schools should use for their 1:1 program. At some level most of these discussions end with people listing the benefits of their preferred choice. Spending too much time focused on choosing “the” device can narrow the focus on what the purpose of having the technology is in the first place.

While I can’t republish the Mind/Shift article here in its entirety, here is a link to the full article.

MacBook, Chromebook, iPads: Why Schools Should Think beyond Platform

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