This post chronicles my experience getting started with this site. For the quick tips information, please see my Resources page that has instructional videos and printable instructions for both teachers and students. If you still have questions, please email me through the contact form (or, if you work for Rockingham County, just search for me on the directory and email me directly). I can also share any of the resources with you on Google Drive, so email me if that would be helpful.
To try it out, I took one of my own photographs and uploaded it onto the site. I chose a photo from Angkor Wat, a place I visited while living in Japan in 2006. That place, a UNESCO world heritage site, was the most phenomenal place I've ever visited, and every time I consider my experience there, I'm reminded by how awed I was to stand in the presence of such remarkable work. However, despite the amazing work that was done to create the magnificent temple, the jungle overtook the entire area and all of it was lost for hundreds of years. There are still some temples where the jungle can be seen, growing its way through the hallways and ceilings of the structures.
I chose this image because I thought students could easily do a research assignment that connects to a historical site; it could work well in either an English or Social Studies class, and it would be easy to adapt it to fit different grade levels and standards.
As an aside about uploads, I downloaded my photo from my Flickr account, and I chose to keep it at its original size/ quality, which was quite large. That has made it more time-consuming to load each time I want to make changes. In the future, I will probably sacrifice some of the quality of the image in order to have a more manageable file size.
There are some different options as far as adding students. You could give students an invite code (to see your code, you need to click on STUDENTS on the top right, then GROUPS, and then the settings tool on the right that says "manage groups" when you hover the mouse over it). Then have them create their own account by entering their own information and the code in order to create an account. This is the simplest option. HOWEVER, this option requires an email address for the students. If you do not want them to need an email to log in, you can manually enter the students' names on your own page. The site will create an account for you with login information and passwords. That information must be printed--you'll only see that screen once--so I recommend saving it as a PDF on your computer from the print screen.
Once students log in, they have the same control that we as teachers have (meaning that their pages are not restricted or limited). Their controls look a little simpler on the toolbar, but that is just because they don't have a "students" tab or an "upgrade" tab. Their overall access is the same.
Once you (or your students) have an account, you're ready to create! The creation feature is quite straightforward, and it's simple to add buttons with links and captions. To get back to the projects you've already created, you'll use the "Me" tab at the top right, which takes you back to your homepage.
When creating a project, here are a few quirks that were easy to navigate but could seem confusing. The biggest one I noticed while editing is that while you're working on an image, it's in a pop-up box. If you want to get out of that and back to the main site, you just need to click on "Save Image." That enables you to get back on the main page where you can see all of the image collages you've created. Also, if you want to link to an image (but not the whole site), you need to RIGHT CLICK on the image (control click if you’re a Mac user) and select “Copy Image Location.” Paste that location link (command V) into the box on the thinglink editor page. I also made my works cited page on Drive and linked it to the image, but I discovered (through a very helpful information box and an easy tutorial session) that I needed to "Publish to the Web" before my link would work from the ThingLink site.
If you register your students, the preset options make it where you follow your students and they follow you. I like this feature, but you can manually change it if that is not your preference. However, if students create their own accounts, you need to "follow" each other by searching for each other. You can also create "Channels" (which are available to you on the "Me" page with all of your own projects), which is a great way to organize your classes and have students submit assignments.
There is also an app for the iPad and for mobile devices. The app seems quite user friendly, and I know that my students use the app that comes with their Weebly blogs quite often, so I think this app would get some good use as well.
I'm excited about this site and all the ways it can invigorate some of our more traditional projects in the classroom. Here's to happy thinglinking!