Making Courses Richer through ThingLink

Who can deny the power of a good story?

The longer I work in instructional design and development, the more I realize that using story can motivate learners and strengthen their learning experiences. As Chip and Dan Heath note in their Made to Stick SUCCESs model, “Stories drive action through simulation (what to do) and inspiration (the motivation to do it).”

Instructors should seek out ways to implement story into learning activities and assessments. One tool with some great possibilities is ThingLink, an online technology that enables you to “share and discover deeper stories through images.” With ThingLink, you can create your own story through one image as you attach rich media to it. The plethora of available media resources makes story creation extraordinary: imagine the power of one image that contains photos from Flickr to Instagram, videos from YouTube to Vimeo to TED talks, audio recordings from SoundCloud to Spotify, social media from LinkedIn to Twitter, and e-commerce data from Amazon to eBay. The story you can create via one image is limitless.

Working in higher education, I am considering how ThingLink might motivate and drive students in a number of courses. Instructors could make their course content “come alive” within a ThingLink image, or they might assign students to research topics and display what they have learned using a ThingLink image. The tool is ideal for journalism and communications classes, where getting an effective story out is essential, but any subject area could benefit enormously. History students might select a crucial point in time and, using rich media, define and analyze events related to it. Art students might select a famous painting or sculpture and, using rich media, dig deep into the artist’s life or technique. Emergency management students might enhance an image of a major disaster area by relating, using rich media, the sequence of events leading up to, during, and after the disaster. The ThingLink gallery provides countless examples, two of which are shown below.

What is the cost of this storytelling tool? A basic account is absolutely free, with optional upgrades to “plus” and “pro” for $5/month and $20/month, respectively. An ThingLink Education plan is also available.

Tell stories, motivate learners, and make learning more effective!

From ThingLink gallery: Oil Prices for 40 Years, by Olivia Naylor:

From ThingLink Gallery: Map of the Clashes Erupting in Egypt in Nov. 2012, by Fanny Ohyeahman:

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