UKEdMag: Interactive Pictures, Virtual Reality by @Steve_Bambury

and a whole lot of Geography

When the Year 2 teachers at JESS told me that they would be covering a World Explorers topic this term, I knew straight away what I would use with them – Thinglink.com. An app and site I’d been dying to use for some time, Thinglink essentially allows you to create interactive images by tagging multimedia hotspots on to a base image. I’d steered away from it in the past as it used an email signup system, but the launch of their teacher accounts meant I could allow younger students to access the app and maintain control of how the content was shared.

This is an extract from the March 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine. You can order your printed version of the UKEdMagazine by Clicking here, or freely read the Online Version by Clicking here.

My basic idea was simple – give them a blank world map and have them locate places around the world, then tag the content to correct place on the map. As the project developed, it evolved a great deal. This is the break down of the full sequence:

Session 1: Setting the Stage

In the first session we focused on the use of Dropbox to share files – a crucial skill that I needed the students to develop for later projects too. I created a folder and populated it with different blank world maps. In pairs, they then downloaded one, as well as a Google Map screen grab of the UAE. This then became the first thing that they tagged on to their map, which acted like a beacon to help them in the following session.

Session 2: The Atlas Explorers

This session was an absolute barnstormer. They used the National Geographic World Atlas app to locate places of their choice, and then saved screen grabs. In order to tag these in the right place on their Thinglink map, some serious crossreferencing had to take place and they really impressed me here. When they had located three places of their choice, I started setting challenges like Japan, Alaska and Denmark for the pairs to race to locate and tag in the correct place. Engagement levels were through the roof and I can genuinely say that this session improved my own geography too!

Session 3: The Video Presentations

Part of the awesomeness of Thinglink is that you can tag videos onto your photo. This was something we hadn’t done before, so I was eager to incorporate them into the project. I decided that it would be great to give the kids a chance to speak directly to the camera and present some facts about a country. I knew that the time limitations of the session would make researching, presenting, and finally locating each place impossible, so I needed to tweak the idea. In the end I produced three differentiated fact sheets, colour coded for reading level, about Nigeria, Sweden and Peru, which were three countries that no-one had covered yet. After a brief discussion about presentation skills, they spread out to record their clips before diving back into World Atlas for some more cross-referencing in order to tag the videos in the right place on Thinglink.

Session 4: The Virtual Trips

It was the final session and I wanted to bring our little project to a close with something really special. I decided that the 360 Cities panorama viewer (360cities.net) could provide us with the perfect final touch. We started the session with a recap of what we had done so far, and then I talked about how it would have been great to visit all these places for real, as that’s the best way to learn about a country. Having discussed the fact that this would have been too expensive and would take too long, we had one of those genuine ‘wow’ moments which us educators live for. I explained that we were going to visit Iran without leaving the room by using a form of virtual reality. It was at this point that I ..

Click here to read the remainder of the article freely in the March 2015 Online Edition of UKEdMagazine


Steve Bambury has been a teacher for 14 years and currently works at Jumeirah English Speaking School in Dubai where he is the Curriculum Innovation Leader and Head of Computing. In 2013 he founded ipadeducators.com and has presented internationally on educational uses of mobile technology. In 2014 he won Best Use of ICT at the GESS Awards for his work with iPad Educators. Follow on Twitter at @iPadEducatorsAE and @steve_bambury.


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