Thursday, September 8, 2011

Taking Pictures in the Classroom! pt 2

One of my favorite tools in the classroom is the camera.  In Part 1, we shared some of the choices teachers may have for accessing cameras in the classroom.  So, I've captured the photo. Now what do I do with it?

Probably my biggest goal for taking photos in the classroom would be to share that photo with a particular audience (students, parents, or sister class in another part of the world). The first devices discussed in Part 1 were devices already connected to a network. Laptops, netbooks, document cameras connected to an Innovation Station, all of those are on a network and the images can be saved to a district server for easy access by the students.

Digital cameras present an alternative with other options. First, the easiest is to share the photos directly into a projector. Most cameras come with an AV cable with RCA/composite (red/white/yellow) plugs. A teacher can connect these camera to the projector and instantly share the photos with the class on the full-size classroom screen. Otherwise, the images will need to be transferred to a computer via it's USB connection cable or by inserting the camera's SD memory card into a computer-connected card reader.  Connecting the camera directly sometimes requires software or drivers to recognize the camera as a device by the computer.  Using a card-reader will allow the computer to access the saved photos as if the SD memory card were an external storage device, which it is at that point.  AISD Windows laptops and netbooks have a built-in card reader. There are also small $5-$10 USB adapters that let you plug the SD card into the USB port on any computer.

Cell phone image transfer can be a bit more challenging since there are many different types of phones and ways that each are able to get the photo to a computer. Often, the camera may come with a USB cable just like a digital camera, but let's focus on the easier and more authentic way of sharing the camera phone pictures.  Being that they are already always on a network, phones present you with the opportunity to share immediately to many different Web 2.0 photo sharing sites. Teachers can quickly learn how to manage the classroom online resource so that the photos are shared in a responsible and curriculum-supporting way.

The last post in this series will deal with the instructional use of sharing photos and using some easy Web 2.0 tools to do so.

What tips would you have for teachers for getting photos to a networked location when sharing?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Taking Pictures in the Classroom! pt 1

One of my favorite tools in the classroom is the camera.  Whether it is a document camera, digital camera or camera phone, the ability to capture learning as it happens makes it possible to draw on that experience any number of times afterward.  In AISD, most classrooms have multiple avenues to take advantage of cameras during instruction.

Dude, Where's My Camera? For starters, nearly every classroom has a digital camera since every classroom has a teacher with a laptop. District-issued teacher laptops all have webcams above the monitor. Every campus also has quite a large number of student netbooks that also have webcams installed.

One of my favorite classroom instruments is the normal digital camera. I'm a fan of the Canon Elph Powershots because of the connecting to almost any computer without adding drivers and because of the high quality still and video shots you can get for not too much money.  Many teachers in AISD have access to a Canon digital camera, but forget that it also takes video!

While we are covering small and relatively inexpensive devices, there has been a growth in the desire for smart-devices in the classroom. More classrooms have camera-enabled iPod Touches, iPads, and a few Android tablets as well.

Don't forget the other camera in almost every room, the cell phone camera! It's easy to whip that out and take a quick photo or video of an instructional sample that you wish to share. More schools across the country are starting to relax the 'no cell phone' rules for students (a , b). Instead of banning them because they could be misused, they are putting them into instructional practice and modeling appropriate phone behavior for students.  Students are using phones to complete quick online quizzes, post questions to the class website, perform quick internet research, or even share photographed examples of the curricular concept that day.

The use of document cameras in the classroom is finally starting to mature from the 'digital overhead' use to being a live demonstration and media capture tool. Almost two-thirds of classrooms in all of our schools have doc cams already attached to a projector.  Many other schools have realized the instructional use and purchased more with their own budgets. The Lumens D265C has been the district standard since the creation of the Innovation Stations, but just about every document camera on the market now provides you with the ability to capture still or video images.

What is your favorite classroom camera resource?
The next post in this series will look at software that can be used to get photos from camera to computer.
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