#ettipad Designing thinking with Thinglink (Lisa Johnson) @techchef4u

The above image, when visited at  http://www.techchef4u.com/ipad/designing-thinking-around-thinglink/ , is a ThingLink which has lots of information not covered in the session. Look out for the numbered ThingLinks and follow them in sequential order.

Website –  www.techchef4u.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/techchef4u

Email –  lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com

Pinterest page –  http://www.pinterest.com/techchef4u/ipad-lessons/

Lisa’s presentation showed how you can engage your learners visually while providing a repository of information for them to digest over a period of time  (text, video, audio, image). The links in ThingLink can also be to anything online e.g. collaborative documents or workspaces, folders of information, classroom response systems.

How can it be used? Lisa showed a number of examples:

As you can see in the above image, the task is embedded into the ThingLink description of the video, so the student is focussed on the purpose before watching. I also like the fact it is non-linear, so is as useful as a revision resource of the water cycle as it is a teaching aid.

Lisa recommended using larger images so you can put lots of ThingLinks on to the image. There is a zoom tool that allows you or your students to investigate an area of the image more closely as well as more precisely place your hotspots.

I loved the book report and see this as a great way of creating content in class as well as home. However, as I’ll mention in more detail later, you need to start with the image so I don’t think it can’t be used as an on-going document of progress through a novel for example but it can be used as a summative record of the work done (perhaps the student responses could be gathered in other apps before being curated into the result shown below?)

This idea of revisiting work was itself revisited later in the session. Lisa showed an example of a Popplet where ThingLinks were added on top to record staff reflections after the first year of 1:1 iPads. Using ThingLink for this purpose rather than asking staff to type onto the Popplet kept the information from becoming overwhelming. She also showed an example by @braddo where conference notes created in Paper by Fifty Three were added to in ThingLink to include hyperlinks to websites, feedback, questions and reflections.

One of the most impressive things I’ve noted in a number of sessions is the on-going engagement with the audience. Geddit was used to good effect in the Wednesday pre-conference but on Thursday it was all about Padlets. Lisa’s padlet was much more engaging than the others simply because she had taken time on the design:

One of the things that struck me during the session was that ThingLink wasn’t really the focus, it was the myriad tools that could be leveraged to create the image that the ThingLink was built upon. Canva looks great for quickly building a collage of visual elements but Lisa also noted that pre-existing PDF files or Keynote / Powerpoint slides can be saved as images too. Later in the session Lisa went on to show this site:  www.smore.com/jx68-designing-thinking-with-thinglink  which details other apps that can be used to create ThingLink images e.g. pic collage, keynote, strip designer, skitch, popplet, design for pages, paper by 53, canva and  easel.ly  so there are a number of options available to students to express or organise their knowledge. However the teacher or student creating their ThingLink still needs to have that artistic vision of how they are going to present their work first.

Lisa spoke about why it was best to create your own image during her presentation. As well as carefully planning where the elements are going to be positioned she also asked attendees to think about the overall size of the image and long term potential. Other suggestions included watermarking your image so that if anyone else uses it at a later date, there is always a path back to the original author.

The call during the presentation was to “date the tool, marry the ability” but, on reflection, I’m still not sure how ThingLink actually improves learning during a topic. Yes, it undoubtedly can engage and the novelty of information presented in a non-standard way will appeal to some students, but if the focus is taken away from what you are learning to how you present it I worry that some students will miss the point. For example in the same way that student created PowerPoints have become a copy/pasting ground for all the information and not a place for reflection on knowledge and prompt for further discussion, poor use of ThingLink could result in a first-in-search Google image with tens of hyperlinks to other pages, not grouped in any meaningful way.

Where I can definitely see value is in reflection on a topic where students start with an image of their final project, or a paper poster, and collate digital content from other sources. That being said, the teacher needs to be hyper aware of what information the student needs to be gathering to enable them to successfully build their ThingLink at the end of the topic. Use of technology to enhance rather than for the sake of using it!

During the session I attempted to create my own ThingLink to see how easy it was. I have to admit it was very quick and I’ve posted my example here (hope it’s ok to use the photo Lisa!):  https://www.thinglink.com/scene/457632237643366402

Questions and discussion at the end of the session

Lisa was asked a question about workflow and how students might be able to submit images to be used in ThingLink. She felt Padlet was a way of getting students to submit images but to consider student privacy. eBackpack might be more suitable to confidential images/data. Lisa shared an example of a teacher who used ThingLink with a class photo to hyperlink to public Evernote notes on each student. That’s definitely not recommended on a number of levels.

Another attendee thought that Thinglink could be used as a homepage for your entire course – links to other thinglinks to ‘drill down’ into course content.  While I can see the appeal of this as a more engaging means of presenting information than a series of text only posts on Edmodo / Moodle, I’m concerned that teachers will spend a lot of time planning and creating the image, but also recreating the thinglink as their course develops over time. I’m not sure yet how easy it is to replace background images (or if that is even possible) but feel that feature would make it a more valuable resource to teachers.

I was also really impressed with how easy it is to embed a ThingLink into a blog post, but as I now blog via Evernote I don’t think this is possible via Postach.io, but then I can’t embed video either!


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