By: Vickie Kelley (SAS – Allied Health)
I have been teaching fully online for almost 6 years here at Washburn – through 3 learning management systems and multiple courses in different disciplines. With support from a C-TEL Small Grant I participated in the KAECT conference in February to get a fresh infusion of ideas for online teaching. So, here is a little of what I brought back.
First, I was introduced to ThinkLink, a great presentation tool. ThinKLink is a free App that allows users to imbed text, video, and sound content onto an image. Based on the notion that every image tells a story, ThinkLink starts with some sort of image as it’s base. You can upload images from your hard drive or import them from the web. Once the image is imported you can insert comments and embed videos, music, or other media links. The comments or links appear as small tags which you place on the picture. They “open” when you hover over them with the cursor. ThinkLink is pretty fun and easy to work with, and great for a threaded unit that students can take time to explore different aspects of a topic.
From the standpoint of instruction, I can imagine more uses for ThinkLink than other presentation tools which are currently popular like Prezi (which is a great little tool, but limited to a single objective). While Prezi relies on movement and zoom action to create more dynamic presentations, ThinkLink actually allows you to elaborate and scaffold the information being presented. Either of these tools is more visually appealing than a standard Powerpoint, but the novelty of tools like this wears off quickly. To keep students interested and engaged it is important to keep a variety of these tools available and to vary their use.
Attending the conference reinforced several thoughts I already had bouncing around in my head. Technology is great, and I will be the first to applaud all the changes and applications. It is important to keep in mind, however that the tools need to support your objectives and meet your needs. When overused or used merely as a glitzy gimmick they may either become a source of frustration (or envy for those that have time to do it all).
I am going to try spicing things up over the summer – maybe a little Thinglink or freshening up some of those Powerpoint presentations. Either way – I have some new ideas and that was the whole point for attending the conference.