If you have spent any time at all in recent professional development sessions for teachers, you have almost certainly run across the term Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The term applies to reaching and engaging all types of learners through the use of innovative and a multi-sensory approach. It’s a great idea that I feel all educators should strive to achieve, but it can be a bit vague at times. In my Web 2.0 travels, I stumbled across a tool that I feel embodies UDL. ThingLink is a website which allows the user to create highly interactive images and can include pictures, video, audio, and text blurbs. In essence, you can create an entire lesson in a picture. I am currently utilizing ThingLink to enrich my students' American History curriculum, but this resource can literally be applied to any subject matter. Here is a sample:
Very simply put the user adds dots called “tags” to an uploaded image in order to provide information about the subject. These tags can be small blurbs of informational text, videos, links to websites or even Facebook pages. ThingLink will allow you to tag to YouTube, Itunes, Spotifiy, Vimeo, Wikipedia, and just about any url that you can think up. As you can see in the above Claude Monet ThingLink, there is plenty of quick clickable text paired with easy access to his biography. There is also a quick link to the Claude Money Wikipedia entry and several videos showcasing his work. As I mentioned before your students can literally access a completely clickable and interactive lesson directly from their Xperia tablet. This is the perfect approach to UDL and presents lots of possibilities for the Flipped Classroom as well. Signup and usage is free just head over to www.thinglink.com to kick the tires.