Thinglink and dyslexia

How do you give a student a research task when they find reading difficult? How do you encourage them to write and analyse what they see when what they want to write doesn’t come out right? I have found thinglink is a useful tool for assisting students who struggle with written tasks.

Thinglink is a fun pop up annotation tool that allows students to add little hot spots to existing images (uploaded photos or panoramas or screenshots) and add small bite-sized snippets of information to each button. The character limit can be frustration – but for more wordy students they can write what they want to say in a word processing tool, screen shot or snip the piece of text they would like as a pop up and then add an image as a pop up (which is really text) as a work around.

When I was working with some dyslexic students last year, I found thinglink was a great tool to summarise our learning conversations in class. We could discuss and then summarise with a pop up in a collaborative thinglink document. We were reading from a very wordy Art History book and then talking about what we had just read. The ‘mini observation as pop up’ was an interesting way to record the conversation in digestible chunks to refer to later. The final thinglink link was then loaded to our LMS (in our case Schoology) and it could be used as a teaching tool for more students later to cement the learning.

The student also found it really useful to refer back to so that she could be reminded of what we spoke about in class. She also used it as a tool to prompt her to then apply the same kinds of analysis techniques to another artist model.

When students are working in isolation or out of timetable lines, thinglink has also been a good tool to summarise content for other students to look at later. For more advanced students, they can also use thinglink to add a voiceover to or to add more layers of information and extend the analysis. The combination of bite-sized text fragments and oral reporting instead of writing is proving to be a good way to keep dyslexic, less literate and more wordy students engaged.

A final way that I have used thinglink is as a layer to deepen understading. In a previous class the students had recorded their research and thinking in a class padlet. The class padlet was fairly superficial so I could use a screenshot of the padlet, load it into thinglink and then add pop ups for the students to dig a bit deeper with their research to look for reasons and the ‘how and why’ of contexts and processes to enrich their learning.

Thinglink is developing their collaborative editing functionality and it also has an age limit which makes it problematic if you want to use it with junior students. I have been using the free version and have found it great for supporting dyslexic students as well as for building fun interactive resources made by students for students as a knowledge construction exercise.

I found the annotation much easier when I could just do little pop ups after talking with the teacher.

Student, 2020

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