I began to think about how photo-sharing sites could enhance the educational experiences of students. Photosharing sites:
* provide a place for people to post their pictures, and then retrieve them from anywhere (no need to burn pictures to a disk, or email them to yourself)
* allow for ways to organize, classify and collect photos (these can be left in digital albums, or made into tangible products later on)
* open up a world of images – photos can be shared openly with the public, thus providing glimpses of images from around the world
So, with these capabilities, how can we use sites like Flickr or Picasa in the classroom?
Prompted by Arlene’s post “Flickr – Real Life Examples,” I went to read David Jakes’ Classroom Uses of Flickr (http://strengthofweakties.org/?p=62). His list is fantastic! He suggests using Flickr: when visual images are required (like a presentation); for image analysis; for creative writing prompts; in digital storytelling; for virtual field trips; to examine geo-tagged images for geography; for visual documentation of student work; to teach about the use of intellectual property, etc.. These suggestions inspire various applications that can be appropriately adapted for use in elementary and secondary classrooms.
I linked to Jakesonline.org, and found even more resources under “Flickr Sites.”
* I now know Flickr allows students to contribute to the development of online stories about images! They can write storylines in the comment area of each photograph; this is called Flicktion.
* students can subscribe to any Flickr member’s account (called a photostream) through RSS feeds, and be notified when new photos are added
David Gran’s site “U Tech Tips: Tips and Tricks for Educators” also provided suggestions for Flickr applications in the classroom, in Five Fave Functions for Flickr. Why not teach art history by using the photos available on Flickr? Why not let students do creative projects using images from the Creative Commons? More exciting ideas!
Still, one must proceed with caution...
As with any Web 2.0 tool that we intend to use with students, there are some important etiquette, safety, and maturity issues to be addressed. From not giving out personal information, to anticipating a few inappropriate photos which could be stumbled upon, we need to prepare students for the proper use of this tool. Teachers should have a good grasp of its uses before they introduce it into their teaching. However, once they are ready, the sky’s the limit with creative uses to enhance learning!