Thinglink and 360-Degree Images for Teaching Forensic Sciences

Thinglink is an online tool that enables users to annotate images and videos. It can be particularly beneficial for those who take information in best visually and I have found that there are various far-reaching educational benefits offered by the App.

At this point, I’d like to share an overview of who I am and what I do. My name is Jez and this is my first post here. I teach Forensic Science courses at City and Islington College and I am the Digital Leader for the Centre for Applied Sciences. The cohort of students I teach ranges from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to Level 4 (Higher Education equivalent), teenagers and adults. However many of the concepts that need to be learned remain the same across the levels. This includes practical techniques for collecting evidence or carrying out chemical analysis to things like the academic concepts of DNA and genetics. Throughout my short time using the App, I have found that Thinglink has useful applications across both realms of theory and practice.

In its most basic form, Thinglink is a resource that allows photographs or other images to be tagged with pop ups [Figure 1]. These can contain further insight into that section of the image or links to websites and videos. This can make traditionally

basic thinglink applications
Figure 1: A Tagged Image Using Thinglink

paper-based tasks a bit more interactive and dynamic as students can be left to explore a new setting. On the premium version students can add their own tags to an image and view what their peers have added as a stimulating exchange of ideas, similar to tools like Padlet. This kinaesthetic approach to research or applying ideas as well as the reinforced connections made through easily sharing ideas can powerfully embed learning (Sinha, 2014), (Duta and Martinez-Rivera, 2015).

 

However, where Thinglink can really excel is within its premium features related to 360o images and videos. Using a 360o camera (like the Samsung Gear 360 we have access to) or some mobile phones, users can film a room or setting from every angle and upload this to Thinglink. Students can then explore the entire room and find tag spots. Within Forensics I have used this to capture a crime scenario in our crime scene rooms. Tags were then added to places where evidence could have been swabbed or collected. This really allowed students the opportunity to ‘return’ to a practical session which otherwise would only have been visited once or even missed completely. This aspect of the tool has been a great benefit.

Using Thinglink is relatively intuitive and is explained in this presentation I put together. I will definitely continue to use it in my practical Forensics units and explore new uses for more theoretical topics; perhaps trying to design settings in a quiz-like fashion to test academic concepts. My students have commented on both how exciting and practical they have found this tool. I think that there is a certain amount of novelty with the resource, however the practice of capturing an entire crime scene and continuously reviewing is now contemporary practice in Forensics and this palpable vocational link is key to ensuring motivation within these courses.

References:

Sinha, K.(2014) – Kinesthetic Learning: Moving Toward a New Model for Education. Edutopia

Duţă, N. and Martínez-Rivera, O. (2015). Between theory and practice: the importance of ICT in Higher Education as a tool for collaborative learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 180, pp.1466-1473.

Laurencin, J. (2018) How To Use Thinlink. how to use thinglink*

*note: present the powerpoint in order to see the moving images

 

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