20 Ways to Use ThingLink in Education

When I first learned about ThingLink late last summer, I was immediately impressed. My mind started racing about all the ways that ThingLink could be used by teachers, students and even beyond the classroom. If you’re not familiar with ThingLink, it makes images interactive. How do you make an image interactive? You upload a still image to ThingLink, and then you can add little icons on top of the image. Those icons become hyperlinks to other web media- websites, articles, videos, sound clips, and much more. Not only can you link to external content, but students can type their own responses onto an icon. I’ve embedded a ThingLink featured example by Molly below, so you can see it in action.

Now tell me that isn’t AWESOME?!

So, now that you’re hooked, what are some of the ways you could use ThingLink in your classroom? I’ve just included the tip of the iceberg below; the ideas are truly endless.

  1. Have students create one for a summative assessment in place of a typical test.
  2. Use a book cover image and have students include links about the book, characters, plot, etc. for an end of book project.
  3. Use the image of a map, and include links with information about the area, like this one, or this one, or this one.
  4. Use an image of a person or character and include links about their life and their important contributions to history or the topic being covered.
  5. Include an image of a body system and include links about how it works. For example, the skeletal system.
  6. Foreign language teachers (or ESL/ELL classrooms) could use an image of a familiar scene, like a family cooking in the kitchen, and include links to recorded sound clips about what’s going on in each part of the picture in the language being studied.
  7. Create a “getting to know you” ThingLink using a group photo and include links to teacher’s websites, bios about seniors for senior night, etc.
  8. Use it as a beginning of the year/course ice breaker by having students upload a picture of themselves and including links to content that describes them and things they like. Students can comment on one another’s published ThingLinks.
  9. Search the database of ThingLinks others have created and shared to see if there’s already something out there you can use.
  10. Create an entire lesson in one ThingLink, by including links to sound clip instructions, video content and links to assignments or quizzes.  See a great example here.
  11. Use the image of a book cover and include a video link to the book trailer to preview the book before reading it.
  12. Scan and upload an image of a worksheet, and include links to videos and websites that will help them solve the problems/answer the questions if they get stuck.
  13. Have students create a portfolio by linking to their work in all other webtools you use in class: blog posts, videos they created, scanned images or pictures of non-digital work.
  14. Depending on how big your school is, you could create and upload a map of your school. Then include a link over each classroom to information about that teacher, like their Twitter handle, class website, class LMS page(s), a written bio right in ThingLink, a recorded welcome sound clip from that teacher, etc.
  15. Create an image collage, upload it to ThingLink and then include links about each image. For example, you could create a collage of different geographic land forms like this one.
  16. Upload a picture of the periodic table of elements and include a link to a video or information about each element (or the ones you’re studying at the time). Sort of like the Periodic Videos site.
  17. Include links to videos demonstrating how to preform certain skills, like this push up example.
  18. Upload an image of your school and include links to information and videos about your school: clubs and activities you offer, your mission statement, academic offerings, promotional videos, and more. Then embed it on your school’s website!
  19. Put a twist on Friday’s current events discussion by asking students to not only find an article, but find an image that relates to their chosen event/topic, upload it to ThingLink, include a link to the original article as well as other links, videos, etc. that relate to the article and what you’re studying in class. You could even ask the students to include a link to an audio recording of themselves discussing their current event.
  20. Create instructions for a new website, device, or process like this one.

One of the things I like the most about this tool, is that no matter the project or access to technology, you can incorporate ThingLink into your class. You, as the teacher, could create one that students will use to preview/review information or complete an assignment. Students could work in groups or on their own to create one, depending on their access to technology and devices inside and outside of the classroom. If you have very little access to technology in your classroom and you still want students to create their own, you could assign individual students or groups pieces of the project to research and prepare. Then have the groups take turns adding their links to the full class ThingLink image. As you can see with how all over the board these ideas are, there are so many ways you could use this tool in an educational environment.

How are you using ThingLink with your students and in your schools? If you’re using it, please share a link to an example in the comments.

Tech To You Later!


5 Edtech Tools in 5 Minutes: Episode 5

With our school-wide Digital Citizenship Day, February was a little crazy and I never got around to making a 5 in 5 episode for February. Now that things have calmed down, I can resume making the monthly 5 in 5 screencasts, which highlight 5 edtech tools teachers can use with students in 5 minutes (okay you caught me-less than six minutes!). By no means are these five minute episodes a comprehensive overview of the tools, but it should be enough to let you know what the tool is, what it can do, and if it’s worth your time looking into and learning more about.

5_in_5This episode features the following tools:

  1. Big Huge Labs
  2. Kahoot!
  3. Pinterest
  4. Visuwords
  5. Piktochart

For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

Tech To You Later!

8 Awesome Free Tech Tools to Create Images, Audio and Video

I’m sure by the time I publish this post, there will be eight more awesome tools to create images, audio and video on the web. In the mean time, I wanted to write about some very cool free tools I’ve come across that students and teachers could use for class projects.  Whether you like it or not, Common Core requires students to create; these eight tools are great aides to student creation.


  1. Fotobabble– This is a great tool for visual and auditory learners.  It’s great when learning vocabulary words, studying foreign languages and more.  You upload a still image and then record yourself for audio in the background of the image.  There are tons of platforms you can share the Fotobabble to, like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr and many more.  You are also given a link directly to your Fotobabble that you can share, and (my personal favorite) you can embed the Fotobabble in a webpage or anything with HTML capability.
  2. Photo Peach– I recently wrote about learning about Photo Peach at ISTE 2013.  Photo Peach lets you instantly create pictures slideshows.  You can add music to the background, titles, text to each of the slides, and more.  The best thing about Photo Peach is it automatically creates transitions and cool effects for you, so even the most novice technology user can have a great looking slideshow.


  3. VoiceThread– This is by far one of my favorite web 2.0 tools out there to date.  VoiceThread is like taking a normal online text discussion board and breathing life into it!  The best way to describe VoiceThread is to actually see one.  You only need to watch the first slide to get the idea.  If you decide to use the free version VoiceThread with your students, you can still take advantage of some of the cool features- you’re just limited on the number of VoiceThreads you can create/participate in at one time (when I wrote this the limit was 5) and don’t have access to as many features.
  4. Audacity-Audacity is by no means the most intuitive audio recording tool out there, but it sure beats paying for a service! It’s a great tool for making a voice recording.  Students can summarize a unit, explain a concept, interpret a conversation, etc. In order to convert your recording to an MP3, you will need to make sure you have downloaded the lame file. If you are using Macs, I would recommend Garage Band over Audacity to make an audio voice recording.
  5. UJam– I must be up front about this tool… I have not used it very much yet.  From what I have seen and heard, it sounds like a great tool for many teachers (especially choral and band teachers) to keep in their back pockets.  UJam allows users to easily create songs, even with no music experience.  What a great tool for concept “raps” many students create to show their teachers they understand the content while adding their own creative flare!  More advanced tools are available for people who understand how to create and mix music too. Be careful, or you’ll get caught jam-a-gramming for hours.


    Go!Animate for Education

    Go!Animate for Education

  6. Stupeflix– I love the videos this tool produces!  It’s very easy to use and creates awesome videos.  The down side- you can only publish one video per email address with the free version.  Stupeflix provides a handful of awesome looking templates that you drag and drop videos and images.  You can add audio or a voice a recording and text to the videos.  The final product is extremely impressive for minimal amount of work and “technical expertise”!  If you plan to make many videos, I’d recommend paying for the service; they offer 95% off for education pricing.
  7. Go!Animate– Easily create animated videos with this tool.  Sometimes the camera man, setting, and actors just aren’t cutting it for what students need.  Allow them to use a tool like Go!Animate to create an animated video.  You’ll never have to deal with camera shy avatars!
  8. Pixton– Along the same lines as Go!Animate, Pixton allows students to create animated comic strips.  Students can easily apply learned concepts to an animated video/comic strip. The free version, For Fun, provides plenty of features.  There are a number of different templates, characters, scenes and much more to chose from to customize your comic strip.  Once your comic is complete, you can email it, share a link, embed the comic and more.

What great image, audio and video web tools do you use?