Making images and graphs more interactive can often be a challenge. Once you have explained or described said graph or image, not much more can be done with them. A really useful tool to make images more interactive is Thinglink. Thinglink allows users to add interactive content on a picture. These pictures become interactive, with videos, images, web pages, and document embed into the images.
The website is actually quite simple to operate. As soon as the user register, he or she is able to create new interactive images, by uploading an image from the internet or from a computer. Then, the user will be able to tag content onto different parts of an image. Images, videos, and links to websites can be linked to a picture. Depending on the source and format of the media, it will open on the same page or in a new tab. The user can also add a small caption to accompany the media. An app is also available for users with mobile devices.
Here is a small video tutorial to get you started on Thinglink.
This tool is very useful for ESL teachers because it can allow them to present students with more interactive material to explore. It can also make lesson planning easier since all of the links, images and videos are on the same page. The website has a teacher version, so you can sign up as a teacher. Doing this, you can register your own students into the website. You upload a list of your students’ names and the website is going to give you a login code and a password for each student. You can then create a classroom online, which you act as a channel where you can share the images that you make. However, there are some limitations to the free version of teachers’ Thinglink. You can only have 1 classroom, and no more than a hundred students in it. You can pay to update to the premium version, which only costs $35 a year, and will be able to add as many students as you like (up to a thousand!) and will also have access to a rich text editor for the media descriptions, custom icons, and a few other features. Still, the free version is still a wonderful tool that a teacher can use. A few other features of the free version of the Thinglink teacher account are explained here.
I personally tried the website by doing an image that I could have asked students to do for a project. I took a random picture and attached different educational elements to it. My image was called ‘’A simple summer scene’’. I took a picture of a small church near a road that I found online, and linked various things to it. For example, I put links to images related to church on the church, and I put a video explaining how trees can grow so high on the part of the picture that showed a tree. the whole thing took me around ten minutes to make, and was ready to be shared and used.
There are many things that you can do as an ESL teacher with Thinglink. At the beginning of the year, you can have students make an image where they link different things representing them. Then you could have them present that image in front of the class. They could also make an interactive map of an English speaking country and present it in front of the class.They could link popular attractions, museums, pictures and others to the map. You could also link videos explaining a particular grammar point to a picture of a sentence featuring that particular grammar point. More ideas of uses of Thinglink in class can be found in this document.
I personally think that this tool is a great tool for ESL teachers, and I think that I will use t in the future, for both students’ projects and for my lessons. One of the reasons why I think I will use it is that it is really simple to make an interactive image with this website. Also, it is very versatile and you can use interactive images to teach or talk about anything. It is also free, easy to use, and has a mobile version! All these good points add to the value of Thinglink as a website that is useful for teachers and students.