Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taking Pictures in the Classroom! pt 3

In this last part of the series, I wanted to share some different avenues and alternatives for sharing instructional photography with students in the classroom. There is no way to cover every option, so this will hopefully open the door for greater discussion and sharing.

First off, we've discussed taking photos and getting them onto a local network. What can we do with those photos? One uniform tool that all Macs and Windows computers have in AISD is MS Powerpoint. Students can access the teacher's folder containing the photos and insert a photo onto a Powerpoint slide.  A simple criteria could be to point out 4 concepts from the lesson by drawing a line arrow to them, adding text that describes them, and saving it back to the server. Slides could be combined into one class presentation or students can take turns adding a new slide to the teacher's presentation.  Either way, the software is already on the computer, the draw tools are simple, and the students have a quick and easy way to demonstrate comprehension of the instructional goals that day.

The other computer-based idea that is often over-looked is the use of the Comic Life application available on all Mac and Windows computers. (Granted, you have have to install it, but both students and teachers have the ability to do that through district network-install tools. Ask your campus technology leadership for more information about that.)  Comic Life will access your network-saved photos and let you create graphic documents that use text, engaging graphics, and your photos to tell a story or demonstrate a point. Comic Life also can access your webcam and take the pictures directly from the camera into your Comic.

The internet includes many sites that allow you to upload something to it, edit the media, and then either save it back to your computer or publish it for public viewing.  These interactive sites make up much of the Web2.0 environment. (Web1.0 was considered the mostly access-and-view web and less interactive.) The benefit to most Web2.0 sites is that they are platform independent. I should be able to do the same thing on that site regardless of the type of computer I am using. (The recent exceptions are mobile devices that don't have Adobe Flash capabilities.)

One such Web2.0 site that works well for classroom photography is Students can simply go to the site, upload a picture from their computer, edit it with filters/stickers/text/etc, and then save it back to their computer.  The great thing about Picnik is that it requires no login or account to be created. Simply upload, edit, and save back to your computer.  The graphic tools are easy to use and the creative aspects are truly engaging.

A great site for sharing photos is, now called Posterous Spaces. This site is great for sharing and discussing photos, docs, or other media with a class. The recent update to their services gives you a greater ability to share only with certain people, even people who don't have a Posterous Spaces account. Cell phone users can share a photo to the class site by emailing the photo and a thought-provoking comment to your Posterous email account and it's instantly up for classroom discussion.

Mobile devices also present some interesting options for using photography during instruction. There are apps for both Android and iOS that allow you to take a picture, edit and then share it with others.  I presented one such app, PhotoPad for iOS, during a recent Intel Webinar on Mobile Apps in the Classroom. (The teacher discussion can be found online!) PhotoPad gets extra credit from me because it uses the photos on the iPad, lets you draw on them, and then I could email the photo out to be shared. Combining that with Posterous makes graphic representations of classroom instruction easily shared with others for discussion. (Here's a silly example.)

This list could go on for days!  I know there will be future posts about the classroom webcam used with instruction, but this just gets us started.

Do you have experience using the camera during classroom instruction? What camera did you use? What software or website did you find helpful?

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