Image 1: Teacher students with a minor in Art Education are creating an educational project in cooperation with The Finnish National Gallery, Ateneum Art Museum and European School of Helsinki. Photo: Martina Paatela-Nieminen
“ThingLink provides us an easy and cost-efficient way to produce media-rich learning materials. As the usage grows, we are going to see various kinds of new use cases from different disciplines. It is great that we can now also offer the tool for students.” – Sari Koski-Kotiranta, Head of Educational Services, University of Helsinki.
University of Helsinki is the oldest and largest university campus in Finland with over 17,000 students. It is also the birthplace of ThingLink, which started first as a student project at the Department of Education, Center for Activity Theory in 2007. Since then, several teachers and researchers at the university have tested the use of interactive visual media in teaching and documenting project based learning.
Image 2: Tiina Korhonen, PhD, Head of Innokas Network at the Faculty of Education, University of Helsinki, and Ulla-Maaria Koivula in 2018. Photo: Laura Salo
“In recent years the University of Helsinki has invested in video communication technology, both online and in actual meeting rooms. In addition to these more traditional solutions for remote learning, we have searched for new possible tools that could meet emerging needs still bubbling under. An example of this was 360-degree materials as well as various forms of interactive image and video content. The COVID-19 epidemic significantly increased the need for remote learning solutions including video production tools and other interactive solutions that support connecting remotely,” says Mikko Halonen, Educational Technology Coordinator at the University of Helsinki.
The University of Helsinki started piloting the use of ThingLink in teaching and learning in 2019. After the pilot phase, says Sari Koski-Kotiranta, the university decided to partner with ThingLink and provide the solution for all their staff and students.
“After the pilot, we got good feedback especially from those educational programs that were part of our digital transformation project at the university. They were interested in continuing the use of ThingLink. For example our pharmacy program used it for building a virtual pharmacy”.
Another area of application for ThingLink technology at the University of Helsinki is art education. University lecturer Martina Paatela-Nieminen has used ThingLink on three courses with her students (see Image 1 as an example of a recent project in art education).
“ThingLink is a visual program that can be used for creating various kinds of learning and teaching environments. These entities can be based on one image that includes embedded additional information or they can be visual narratives with links. As a ‘tool for thinking’, ThingLink is suitable for both individuals and groups. In my opinion it goes especially well with the idea of the multiliteracy, which is based on a broad understanding of text including visual, verbal, auditive, numeric, kinesthetic texts and their combinations. The best thing about ThingLink is the possibility to combine multiple forms of media and texts and create networks of intertextual references and meanings. In visual arts ThingLink expands the idea of visual texts (images) into culture, in other words, teaching and learning happens in these sociocultural networks, including multiple forms of media.”
All students and staff at the University of Helsinki can sign up to ThingLink using their Office 365 login. Teachers can create groups for each course, and students can use shared folders to collaboratively edit interactive presentations and virtual tours.
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