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ThingLink: How to Transform an Image into a Full-Blown Lesson

Submitted by on January 24, 2013 – 2:17 pm5 Comments

ThingLink logoGo beyond enhancing an idea or a lesson—transform your students’ learning with a tool called ThingLink.

ThingLink engages your students and drives curiosity and discovery—and it’s free. It’s an image platform that converts an image into an interactive experience by letting you connect music, video, text, images, shops, and more from around the web.

Experience it Yourself

Hover over over the image to see its interactive features.

ThinkLink image of the Montgomery Bus Boycott displays colorful “nubbins” to direct users to articles, music, and videos. ThingLink lets images act as a navigational surface, while embedding rich web content on the image itself. You can tag your image with content from nearly any site: YouTube, Vimeo, Wikipedia, Google Maps, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, eBay, Flickr, and much more. Students can take in various information sources from within one image without having to leave the page. “Now you don’t have to go away from the original image,” ThingLink Creator Ulla Engeström says. “You can discover all the things you need to know right there.”

ThingLink image of classical  music composers displays a visually appealing, easy-to-read grid with text and audio.

Create a ThingLink

Getting started on ThingLink is super easy. Join at, and the site will walk you through creating your first interactive image. (Also check out their user-friendly quick start guide.)

Share or Embed a ThingLink in Your Course

To share a ThingLink with your students, just hover over any image that either you or someone else has created, and look for the icons Share image or Embed image.

  • Embed—Maintain an image’s interactive experience outside of ThingLink’s site by embedding images as HTML  to your LMS (most LMSs will allow you to do this; if not, share the hyperlink as directed below). You can also embed a ThingLink into sites like Tumblr, Blogger, Twitter, and WordPress, just like we did in the examples above (see their full list of sites here).
  • Share—Hyperlink a ThingLink into an LMS or other site, which will direct users to your interactive ThingLink image page.

Let Your Students Edit the Image

Why not let your students collaborate and create a ThingLink to share with the class? When you upload an image into ThingLink, select the Allow anyone to edit option:
Screenshot of the Allow Anyone to Edit option in ThngLink
Doing so allows your students to embed content on the image, increasing engagement and interaction opportunities in your course.

Check Out More of Our Favorite ThingLinks

ThingLink is an ideal platform for the classroom because it enables you to engage students and allow them to discover information while avoiding page load times or other page-jumping distractions. Want to see more interactive ThingLinks? Check out these creative, dynamic examples:

  • Declaration of Independence: A history lesson using videos, Wikipedia biographies, quoted text, and audio.
  • Interactive Mind Map: A visually appealing map showing ThingLink’s vast rich content connections.
  • Martin Luther King: A strong photograph connecting the story with Google maps, video, Wikipedia, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Alan Partridge: An image connecting audio, publisher notes, and Amazon purchase option.

Your Turn!

Show us how creative you are. Create a ThingLink, and share it with us in the comments section below. Tell us how you have or how you might use it in your curriculum. [social-bio]


  • Melanie Johnson says:

    Thanks for sharing, Robin! I only wish this tool was around when I taught visual rhetoric! I can’t wait to use it in the future.

  • Heidi Upton says:

    I’m VERY interested in this tool, and just made my first version. Not very involved yet. I do have a question. Looking at the Montgomery Bus Boycott lesson above, I see there is one large image and several smaller connected images on the side. Did you do this through the blog format you have, or is that an option on ThingLink that I, so far, don’t see? Just wondering. Here is my little initial try:

  • Robin Bartoletti says:

    Heidi – The original image include the large image with the three small on the right. In other words, the original image is a collage of 4 images saved as a jpg. Here is a link to a thumbnail so you can see what I mean.


  • Mary Helen Culbertson says:

    What a great find, Robin! My mind is racing with ways this can be used in an online course. Instead of an “intro” discussion post, a student could create an interactive image with sounds, other images, and videos that really introduce themselves to their classmates. Another idea is to use an interactive image as the overview of a module or to present a written lecture. Students could use it as a presentation tool. There are all kinds of ways to use the ThingLinks in online learning! Thanks for sharing!

  • Robin Bartoletti says:

    Mary Helen, As a bonus, Thinglink recently added a mobile version of the tool, which makes it doubly useful. You can see the mobile information here.