ThingLink

Unique annotation tool adds learning depth to images, videos

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 43 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense

Grades

6–12

Subjects & Skills

Arts, Communication & Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking

Great for

Creating Media, Presentation

Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: Web

Pros: ThingLink is a fun way for students to share their learning; uses some of the best aspects of social media.

Cons: An excellent jumping-off point with deeper learning dependent on how it is used; time is needed to access its full potential.

Bottom Line: It's unlike anything else out there, helping students and teachers produce interactive multimedia presentations embedded in images and videos.

The flexibility of ThingLink invites a lot of possibilities. Teachers can use the site to collect tagged images, creating an interactive slide show to introduce a new unit. Working individually or in groups, 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.

The ease with which images can be collected and tagged encourages both formative and summative assessment, providing teachers with a great way to evaluate what students know, both midway through a unit and at its conclusion. That said, teachers will likely want to establish specific guidelines in terms of what links and sites students use. Teachers might also want to incorporate a speaking or writing assessment to accompany students' projects, as it would be easy to game the system by clicking without in-depth understanding.

ThingLink is a tool -- available as a Chrome app, on the Web, and on iOS and Android -- for embedding multimedia content in images or videos. The media-embedding process, for both teachers and students, simply involves uploading an image or video and linking it to other resources on the Web. Links can lead users to informational Web pages, audio recordings, and videos. Prompts guide users most of the way, and a Search Content option helps support the embedding process with links to commonly used Web resources. 

The educational version of the platform -- designed just for students and teachers -- features the addition of "channels" that can be used for specific classes or class projects and are only accessible by members of the registered class or group. ​Teachers can register students, arranging them into specific groups or classes. In addition, schools and districts can use the organizational management platform to monitor all users. There are three plans: basic (free), edu premium ($35/year), and school/district (discounted).

To understand ThingLink's full potential, teachers may want to let students lead the way -- they'll immediately embrace the opportunity to work with the media they love outside of school. Students are likely to find it a great way to share what they know about a specific subject or research topic. The site's emphasis on images rather than text can help students with a variety of learning styles and literacy levels find a way to demonstrate their learning and express themselves. ThingLink can easily support students in meeting Common Core media-literacy expectations.

The ThingLink blog details ideas for classroom use including digital storytelling, word walls, differentiation, e-portfolios, and much more. There's also a free series of professional development webinars to transform teaching and learning. But keep in mind that, as with many great uses of tech in the classroom, there's a notable time investment needed up front to create projects and assignments that will enhance student learning. 

Learning Rating

Overall Rating
Engagement

ThingLink makes it easy to embed images with audio, video, and informational links. Like an intersection of Pinterest and Tumblr, the site's familiar structure and easy navigation will get kids interested.

Pedagogy

Just like a blank canvas, learning potential is largely dependent on students' and teachers' imaginations. Teachers can use it to create varied learning activities, and students can create multimedia presentations.

Support

Design and function are similar to other image-based social media sites. ThingLink Help Center provides extensive support with FAQs, a support forum, a blog, and much more. 

Community Rating

Creative and Interactive-don't let the grade band stop you if you are in elementary!

I think that this tool definitely gives students the creative ability to construct their own knowledge about a topic through the use of the base image. As a teaching tool itself, an educator could search through the already constructed images to find one that fits their theme and use it for direct teaching. But if you are looking for a start up and go teaching tool, this isn't it- it is a creative annotation tool that requires work to get a finished product.

In my opinion this is an engaging program/app that allows students to explore the Internet for supporting information and media pertinent to a topic; an alternative to the end of unit assessment. It can easily be adapted for individual or group work, and a teacher of students with special needs could do more direct teaching as the students verbally generate the tags. I know that the search feature for tags requires spelling accuracy for the best search choices, so this could be a roadblock for students with spelling difficulties. Overall, I feel a teacher that appreciates creative presentations and engaging students in novel ways will find value and success with ThingLink.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information must be shared for social interactions.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
  • Personalised advertising is not displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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