Common Sense Review
Updated January 2016


Unique annotation tool adds learning depth to images, videos
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • To get started, teachers register each of their classes as a group.
  • Adding images and embedding them is easy.
  • Fill images with hot spots to extend learning.
  • Create annotated videos with interactive pop-ups.
  • Tons of options for emebedding media.
  • View analytics on videos.
  • The Browse tab offers links to images created daily and weekly -- for inspiration.
  • The blog is a great go-to when you're confused or stuck.
ThingLink is a fun way for students to share their learning; uses some of the best aspects of social media.
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.
Amy Lauren Botula
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

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 Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

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 Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

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. 

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

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.

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What's It Like?

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).

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Is It Good For Learning?

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. 

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