Tl;dr – Thinglink is a cross-platform tool for combining images with media and text.
Thinglink at a glance
Do you remember those overhead projectors your teachers bored you with in the classroom? Thinglink is like that… plus about 20 years of design and technical advancements. Thinglink is a tool you can use to enhance visual media such as infographics, maps, photos, graphs and charts, videos and even 360 photos by adding interactive icons that can be expanded to display text, video, links, and other embedded content. Thinglink adds dimension, detail, and interactivity to otherwise simple or inexplicable images.
Thinglink offers several different pricing options but, for online classroom purposes, the free version is probably sufficient. There are, however, different educator pricing options that might be worth looking into.
The interface is simple and intuitive. Simply upload your image and add expandable tags where you can then add text and/or media.
How can I use Thinglink in my class?
Thinglink is an excellent solution for introducing new or complex topics or situations to your students. Sometimes images alone just can’t adequately convey the intended message or instructional content. Thinglink is a very effective tool at pointing out or expanding details. It can help educators call attention to critical points of information or expound on areas that may be unclear to the student.
Thinglink embeds well into canvas. You can use Thinglink to dramatically enhance engagement and interactivity in your Canvas courses, greatly improving content delivery and knowledge retention vs. flat traditional images. Thinglink also offers analytics and usage data so you can evaluate where your students are engaged or what areas they interact with the most.
What I like best about Thinglink
Thinglink is a very simple, intuitive platform yet it offers some innovative and powerful applications such as 360/VR integration. In the Premium Teacher paid version you can use Thinglink to immerse your students in a virtual environment. With VR becoming more accessible and mobile friendly, virtual learning environments in the classroom are now possible.
Check out these VR learning environments:
What I dislike about Thinglink
Thinglink has its limitations. For one, even at premium prices, Thinglink projects are limited to a certain amount of students or viewers. I would be willing to pay per project to be able own, export, and manage my own creations without usage limitations, but to pay $120 every year for as long as I want to keep my usage needs is a hard expense to justify. I understand that a free service should be limited but paying upwards of $120 a year to be able to use 360/VR features or expand a student base to more than 150 seems excessive.
Give the free account a try. After exploring the platform and experimenting with some of your own Thinglink creations, you might discover some creative ways to enhance your online classroom. Once you create a few starter projects, over time, your projects can evolve into more complex presentations. If you find value in your presentations, check out some of the additional paid features.
Written by Thad Stott, Instructional Technologist, Department of Ed Tech for TCS Education System.