In Chapter 7 “Fun with Flickr: Creating, Publishing, and Using Images Online” in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom (2006), Will Richardson provides lots of curricular ideas for integrating Flickr meaningfully into the classroom. Elizabeth mentioned this book in her Intro Blog: What’s a blog?
Richardson opens the chapter by saying “The easiest place for teachers and students to begin experimenting with creating and publishing content other than text is with digital photography, a technology that is becoming more and more accessible every day.” How true this is as Fisher-Price now has a digital camera for the wee ones. I know a four year old that got one for Christmas and is taking some fabulous pictures! This is in stark contrast to Mary Burns (2006) description of the text-based natures of schools in “A Thousand Words: Promoting Teachers’ Visual Literacy Skills” in MultiMedia & Internet@Schools.
Richardson desribes Flicker as “something much more than just a photo publishing space.” He writes that, “One of the most useful tools in Flickr is the annotation feature, which allows you to add notes to parts of the image simply by dragging a box across an area and typing text into a form” such as Jane Goodall’s Camp.
This annotation feature of Flickr reminds me of Pop Up videos like this one of the Dave Matthew’s Band on YouTube. (I tried to embed the video into this blog post to no avail, either by pasting the embed link directly into the draft post or using the upload videos tab. This is the first time that the FAQ didn’t solve my problem. Sometimes you have to pick your battles … or cut your losses and say enough is enough. I will try to insert a video at another time.) As a side bar, I wonder how kids could create their own Pop Up Video?
I love the possibilities of creating these captions for the different parts of the photos, a feature that I have not seen in Snapfish, MSN Space or Facebook. Richardson suggests captioning battlefields or dissections for students to view on their own. Students could also caption photos of their learning or from their fieldtrips in this way. I’m thinking right now of a trip we took to Fort Edmonton Park or students working on a big project captioning their progress in images. Or students could demonstrate their knowledge and understanding about an image’s topic by creating captions.
I played with the Flickr search, of places both near and far. First I searched Moscow and was reminded of why I loved it so much. I then pesimistically searched Edmonton, Alberta, not expecting much, but was surprised by the +40,000 returns. I clicked page 7 to find a great image of Grant McEwan along with somebody’s party photos. Not as high quality as the first page, but not obsene either.
I have often thought of doing a Wonders of Edmonton project like the Wonders of the World lists that there are. As suggested by Valenza in her Manifesto, I planned to loan digital cameras, (removing the digital divide due to access to digital cameras), have students take pictures of the place of their choice and justify why it should be a Wonder of Edmonton. Flickr could replace students having to go to different places in the city, something that I wondered about the logistics of as I don’t know how safe it would be for them to be going to unknown parts of the city by themselves. At the end, we could message the original photographer to have them view our finished collaborative project somewhere online…maybe in a blog? Or a Flickr Group?
Whether it is photos from Moscow or Edmonton, there is the possibility of leaving a comment and engaging in a conversation with the person who took the photo. How fabulous that would be to hear the stories behind the photos.
Thinking about our school’s media class, students could have a class portfolio of their best photos or each student could create their own portfolio of artistic images of objects and places. Students could comment on how they came to the photo they did, identifying their own strenghs or areas for improvement or favorites. In this way, the comments could serve as a reflection, self-assessment tool or peer assessment. This reminds me of the critiques that we would do of each others work in the studio art courses I took in University.
Images in Flickr could be used in discussing the visual elements and principles identified in Lesley S. J. Farmer’s (2007) “I See, I Do: Persuasive Messages and Visual Literacy” in MultiMedia & Internet@Schools or the vocabulary, grammar and rhetorical devices suggested by Mary Burns (2006) in “A Thousand Words: Promoting Teachers’ Visual Literacy Skills” in MultiMedia & Internet@Schools.
Flickr could be a “first source” for news as eyewitnesses post images or video before mainstream media. Students could take on the role as “amateur journalists” do who take pictures with their phone then upload them to Flickr for the world to see. A powerful text example is included in Al Rogers “Global Literacy in a Gutenberg Culture,” which includes a series of messages marking the beginning of the disintegration of the Former U.S.S.R. Rogers identifies that the “message came directly from Moscow to the people of the world…unfiltered, unedited, without the benefit of selection or “commentary,” “interpretation,” or embellishment. (This kind of internetworking transmission is substantially different than radio or television broadcasting, which require expensive transmitters: anyone with access to a personal computer and phone line can accomplish the same thing as our Moscow “correspondent.)” Similarily, digital cameras, cell phone cameras and sites like Flickr or YouTube make it easier for people to be amateur journalists as events, such as the Tsunami or Hurricane Katrina, unfold around the world.