Susan Kistler on a Free Tool for Adding Interactivity to Online Reports: Innovative Reporting Part IV
I am Susan Kistler, contributing editor at TheSmarterOne.com (we finally launched this month – yay!) and former Executive Director for the American Evaluation Association. aea365 contributors have written before about producing online reports (for example here and here), wherein we learned, among other things, that evaluators are still feeling their way in terms of online reporting. The cost of entry (monetary, time, learning curve, etc.), and the dearth of examples, can make the possibility of reporting online seem daunting. Today’s tool can help.
Rad Resource – ThingLink: ThingLink is an image interaction tool that allows you to add small icons with rich media tags to images which may be viewed on their website or embedded in your own website or blog. I wrote a complete review of ThingLink here and I encourage you to take a look to understand the platform more fully.
Lessons Learned: Using ThingLink it takes from 3-10 minutes to add a set of rich media tags to an image, assuming that you have the image and the content for the tags identified.
STOP HERE! If you are reading this via email PLEASE click back to the aea365 site (just click on the post title in your email). ThingLink is worth seeing in action, but it is a web-based application and works only online. In email, you likely can see the images below, but you won’t be able to interact with them.
Lessons Learned – ThingLink for Graphs and Charts: ThingLink can be used to annotate graphs, such as the one below that I made from data from a US Department of Education report. In this example, the “picture” being annotated is an image of a graph. The ThingLink rollover annotations that I added provide detail to the graph’s categories, scale options, and sourcing information.
Hot Tip: The positioning of ThingLink rollover icons changes slightly among different browsers and platforms. Try to put icons with open space around them and then check how they look.
Lessons Learned – ThingLink for Qualitative Data Gathering and Reporting: ThingLink can be used to annotate photographs. The settings may be configured so that anyone can edit a photo – evaluators could share an image and ask stakeholders to provide written or oral annotations. Alternatively, evaluators may create an annotated photo as part of report, integrating the authentic voice of stakeholders through oral or written annotations. The ThingLink below is annotated with narrative (and a yelp review – wanted to demo that as well!).
Hot Tip – Try it! As long as you are on the aea365 website (but not in your email), you can add a tag to the image of the bus below. You don’t need to log in. Just click on the pencil icon in the top left of the picture and select edit. Once in edit mode, click anywhere on the picture to add an icon and rollover annotation.