FETC, the Florida Educational Technology Conference begins tomorrow. It is my favorite place to learn and share. I love to try to seam together themes and trends that help us integrate student use of technology into the curriculum. My eyes and ears will be wide open for strategies and tips to share with you. I have been extremely blessed to visit hundreds of classrooms in scores of districts over the last few years and am happy to report that the effort and ability to use technology in the classroom has definitely improved, but I am still seeing teachers working far too hard. It’s time to embrace student use and how to best provide our content through their devices or through stations when we only have limited technology access. Let’s give them the opportunity to be creative. It’s amazing what they can come up with given time and opportunity. This “tuesdays” is a mix between looking at BYOD and very cool simple design website that anyone can do.
A creative website
Thinglink is slick, creative and simple to use. Teachers and students can easily create interactive images and videos for presentations, projects or any digital explanation of learning. We have all heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Thinglink takes that concept up a huge notch. Imagine asking your students to do their report with a single image that has multiple links to websites, videos they have created, or any digital asset that helps explain their understanding of the concept. It would be such a refreshing change from the standard PowerPoint. Give students an opportunity to try Thinglink as a project option and step back and be amazed at their creative abilities to bring digital resources together. I made my first one this evening and found it super simple. It’s a combination of technology integration and BYOD. The name Thinglink is so perfect because all you need is a “thing” to add “links” to and you can create a whole project.
A student using their own device
“New technology is common, new thinking is rare.”
Sir Peter Blake
May I encourage you to consider a new way to have your students present information? There are a host of other tools than PowerPoint that your students can use to show understanding of content. Some of the best known are Prezi, Voicethread, Powtoon, Keynote, Slides and more. Thinglink joins the list of options with high marks. One of the scariest parts of technology is not knowing how to use all these tools. The good news is that you don’t have to know how to use them when you make them options. Students with options are more apt to learn perseverance, patience, collaborative skills and teamwork. There is great wisdom in trying some of the tools you list as options, but a simple disclaimer that trying these options are voluntary leaves the learning to them. I always marvel at what kids can do with tools that I do not even have a clue to use.
How do you do that?
How do you use Thinglink? First, I would recommend that you click around on their website because their explanations are crystal clear and spot on. It doesn’t matter what kind of device or computer you have, Thinglink only needs an image to begin. Second, you will need to create a FREE account and like most website like this, you will be given the opportunity to upgrade, but it’s not necessary at all. Third, I highly recommend storyboarding the basic idea of what you want to explain or teach. Once you have a plan, then you need to select the perfect image that will draw attention. Fourth, gather websites and/or upload related materials to your own One Note or Google account. Finally, create little hot links on your image. You can add icons, make them shimmer, invisible or hoverable. (Is that a word?) Just have fun and get your message across with a whole new look.
As always, I am