thinglink: an online tool for developing visual literacy

I was introduced to thinglink, an online tool for marking up images at a HEA workshop, Changing the Learning Landscapes – Social Media in the Humanities, in London in mid-May [here's my own presentation].

thinglink is a tool that allows users to add tags to images that have been uploaded online. These tags can be text annotations, other images, videos, links to other websites, YouTube videos, etc. Importantly, these marked up images can be shared on the web.

There is great potential here, I think, for developing students’ visual literacy. Two basic approaches spring to mind:

  1. Teachers can mark up images so that students can see specific points of interest. This would be particularly useful for pointing out technical aspects of images of architectural features, manuscripts, etc. But any image (posters, paintings, maps and plans) could be annotated so that students can see the broader implications of the iconography and other visual cues.
  2. Students could (after being introduced to the tool and possibly to the images/ concepts they are to explore by their tutors) be required to mark up images for themselves and present them to others. This could be done either individually or collaboratively – the latter would be facilitated by the online nature of the tool.

Here’s a great post from the Free Technology for Teachers blog: 65+ Ways to Use ThingLink In Your Classroom.

I’ve had a play around with the tool – which in my opinion is very intuitive and user-friendly – and made the rather rough and ready image below, based on a picture I took in Merida (Spain) a few years ago:

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