Trying out Thinglink

This week for class we were able to blog about anything! Like Megan, I chose to explore a new app that might be useful in my classroom. I had heard about Thinglink and wanted to try it out.

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What is Thinglink, you might ask? It is an interactive media platform that allows you or students to use multimedia content and links to share their knowledge. and tell their story by tagging images or videos with hotspots that include additional information. Students are able to add information or link to other websites, pictures, maps, videos, audio clips, or polls using tags on an image they uploaded themselves or got from the web. They can also link to their own google doc or presentation.

Signing up was easy and there is a free version. It doesn’t have all the options of the upgraded but I think it has enough to be useful in the classroom.

I found a great example that includes many of the features Thinglink has to offer. This interactive infographic by Local 10 News Miami reports on the death of baseball player José Fernández

“Readers can smoothly unlock various tags that include the pictures of the mass card, radio clips from the procession, Google map location of the funeral, and a plethora of articles and images honoring the life of José.”

Completed projects can be shared via social media, a link, or embedded into blogs or websites.

I thought this app would be a great way for student to show their learning. This website shows many ways to use Thinglink. Check out the site to get more information on any of the ideas I’ve listed below, or see some more!

Use Thinglink to:

  • Communicate with parents
  • Student portfolios
  • Interactive bulletin board
  • Add sound effects or oral explanations to images
  • Interactive book talk or photo collage
  • Multimedia definitions
  • Interactive report

Apparently you can even sign up for a teacher account where you can add students –> Thinglink Classroom. I didn’t explore this option but here is a presentation that explains the process. There is also a tutorial on this within the app along with some other tutorials.

You are also able to Explore other Thinglinks for ideas or to use in your classroom. I thought this one would be a great project for biology.

As great as this all sounds, when I tried to create my own Thinglink, I didn’t have much luck. I was able to upload my background image, but beyond that, nothing much would work. Somehow I was able to add one tag and that’s it. I was really disappointed. I emailed for help so I’ll see if they get back to me.

I was excited for the possibilities I saw in this app and how I could use this in my classroom. Hopefully I can figure out what I’m doing wrong.

I’d love to hear how you are using Thinglink in your classroom and if you had any problems you were able to overcome.

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Text, Audio, or Video…How Do You Learn Best?

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This week my post is a response reflection to A.W. Bates’ Teaching In A Digital Age. In chapter 7 Bates discusses different types of digital sources and their impact on teaching and learning. Of all the digital sources, I believe that I, like my classmate Ashley, learn best by text. However, this could be because text has primarily been the only option for my learning. We were shown a video once in a blue moon in school, but most of my learning occurred through reading. I did well in school so I guess this worked for me. Some of the unique presentational characteristics of text are:

  • text is very good at handling abstraction and generalisation;
  • text enables the linear sequencing of information in a structured way;
  • text has a linear structure which works well in the development of a sequential argument or discussion;
  • still graphics such as graphs or diagrams enable knowledge to be presented differently from written language, either providing concrete examples of abstractions or offering a different way of representing the same knowledge.
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Text also meets all the criteria as a medium for academic learning. I can attest to that; while taking a master’s degree you read a lot of books, journals, and articles. A LOT! There is good reason for using text as it is “particularly useful for developing the higher learning outcomes required at an academic level, such as analysis, critical thinking, and evaluation” (Bates, 2015, 7.2.1.2).

Bates also makes the point that although text is great, it comes with limitations. It requires a high level of literacy skills for it to be used effectively in teaching and learning. This is where I run into problems at the school I teach at. Many of my students have huge gaps, especially in their reading levels. I agree with Bates when he says,

“Print has been a dominant teaching technology, arguably at least as influential as the spoken word of the teacher. Even today, textbooks, mainly in printed format, but increasingly also in digital format, still play a major role in formal education, training and distance education” (Bates, 2015, 7.2.1).

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So how can I reach the students that text doesn’t work for, in teaching them and in them being able to show their learning at high school level? I certainly try many different approaches, but I’d love to hear your ideas as well.

 

Bates refers to audio as the unappreciated medium. I would say I have to agree in that I don’t really appreciate it and don’t think it is that great, for me anyway. What a teacher adds by talking/teaching in a class is highly valuable, but Bates is mainly referring to recorded audio. I don’t have a lot of experience with just recorded audio and perhaps that is why it isn’t high on my digital source list for learning. I don’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I will admit, I haven’t really given them a chance, but I think my problem is that I zone out. Unless I am following allow with text, my mind begins to wander. I believe this is useful in the classroom as it can help develop literacy skills or support those students with lower literacy levels.

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Video is a digital source I believe can add a lot to a lesson and allow students to deepen their understanding of a topic or concept. Sometimes when you are able to see something you’ve been reading about or watch a technique in action, it just makes so much more sense. I think that keeping videos on the shorter is side is better or interest can be lost. Videos can be frustrating or some if you’re trying to pick out certain pieces of information or rewatching looking for one particular part. Text can be easier to skim over and find what you’re looking for in these instances.

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I think I need to incorporate more videos into my lessons. I get frustrated when it can take such a long time to search for one great video and then sometimes I end up not finding anything. I wonder if it was worth it or the best use of my time. I agree with Bates when he says that “students often reject videos that require them to do analysis or interpretation; they often prefer direct instruction that focuses primarily on comprehension.” This is not an excuse to not use video, we must teach students to use video differently.

Bates argues that video isn’t being used enough in education and when it is, it isn’t “exploiting the unique characteristics of video” (Bates, 2015, 7.4.4). I would love an example of how video should be used to in order for students to capitalize on its full effect.

My primary teaching area is high school math. How I was taught, and thus how I’ve been teaching for the most part, has had students communicate their learning in text (mostly via mathematical symbols). However, this class, other master’s classes, and some of my fellow colleagues have inspired me to look for other ways my students could show their learning. From what I have thought about so far, text would still be involved, but it would stray from the traditional test/worksheet assessments. Bates makes the case that we should be giving more attention to developing multimedia literacy skills in this digital age. He’s right, and that is also part of my inspiration for finding these alternate assessments. I would love to hear about ways you assess your students learning that vary from the traditional. Leave a comment below!  

Creating With SMART Recorder

For class this week we are supposed to pick a creation tool that we are unfamiliar with. I use my SMART Board in class a lot but I had never used the recording option on it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to figure it out. Some of my students in one of my classes were finished their work so I asked if they’d like to help me out. After a couple of failed attempts trying to use the screen capture option to record, we googled how to record! This short video got us set up.

We played with it a little bit and found that we couldn’t hear anything just using the mic on my computer. The kids told me I would need a to buy a microphone. Luckily I remembered I had a wireless headset with a mic in my desk that I had used a couple years ago for getting students to record themselves on PPT. However, it needed to be charged so we couldn’t test it out right away. The students told me I might have to record my video with no sound, then record my voice, and then lay them over each other. This sounded like more than my weak technical skills could handle, but they assured me that with a program like Windows Media Player or WeVideo it wouldn’t be that difficult. I think they really enjoyed being the experts and getting to teach me!

Fortunately, the sound using the microphone I had turned out pretty good. Here is my review of SMART Recorder.

I also think SMART Recorder would be a useful tool to record short how-to videos for using technology. Clearly, some students don’t need a tutorial, but some do. As I try to incorporate more technology into my classroom and give my students the option of using technology for assessments, I think SMART Recorder would provide me an great option for making tutorials. That way I don’t need to spend class time teaching how to use a tool only a few may use to show their learning. It could be a valuable tool to help my students develop the key skills needed in a digital age.  

Leave a comment below letting me know how you use SMART Recorder in your classroom or if you’ve tried a different creation tool you think is better.

For some other creation tool reviews, check out the some of my classmate’s blogs. Roxanne reviewed GoAnimate, Chalyn discussed Adobe Spark, and Graham checked out Screencastify.