Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blog #1

Rattling around the photosharing sites has been a nice obligation to undertake! It was fun-and reminded me of Resnick’s Lifelong kindergarten and Playful Learning concepts. I can see why this assignment led the field of posts-it was easy to become immersed in the artistry and wander around the virtual galleries. The potential of these sites to model and inspire and to engender appreciation and awe-that potential alone makes the sites worthy educational tools.

The sites I visited included flickr, photobucket, deviantart, kodak easy share gallery, smugmug, snapfish, phanfare, atpic, webshots, zooomr, woophy, and picasa. I learned that photosharing sites originated in the mid to late 1990’s-arising mostly from services providing online ordering of prints. I learned that some sites are free, while others charge consumers to host and share photos. I learned that captions or “tags” can be added to photos and that photos can be edited and enhanced (as in snapfish). I learned that photos can be organized according to taxonomy-a directory like or gallery structure organized by topic (example mountains) or “folksonomy” (another addition to my technical dictionary!)-where the organization depends on the people in the pictures. I found that some sites include drawings or paintings as well as photos and I sometimes found it hard to differentiate between photo and drawing (check this out). I found the quality and size of photos varied (I liked flickr’s and smugmug’s), but was annoyed by the ads that accompanied some sites especially the webshots, which offered me a congratulatory free laptop for checking in with them (I passed on the offer). I liked sites that provided links to the artist’s page so that you could see the artist’s gallery (like photobucket and deviantart). This is often the way that I choose reading material-if I like a book by a certain author, I’ll often trust that other books that he or she has written will also be ones that I’ll like. I liked the video component of photobucket’s site. I found that you could buy almost anything-cards, frames, mugs, aprons, neckties, blankets, coasters-with a photo of your choice on it from kodak easy share gallery. I liked the way woophy set up its site with the map of the world. This would be a great way for my third grade social studies students to cue into photo information about Peru, India, Ukraine, and Tunisia: our countries under study. I loved the photo titled “they’re not going to be happy about this down at the henhouse” from zooomr-it would be a great photo to use in our oology unit (oology is the study of eggs. We add this unit as an elective to our grade three science program).  

The issue of “virtual theft”-stealing someone else’s art-is one that becomes almost immediately apparent. Joyce Valenza writes about copyright/copyleft/fair use in her blog. She directs us to a good starting point for educating students about copyright with a link to Sharing Creative Works-an illustrated primer by Roberts, Royer and Phillips.

I think these photosharing sites could be useful at any grade level depending on the comfort level teachers have with technology. For proof that even young children can engage constructively in technology view a grade one class’s video.

Our school Christmas concert coordinators are often ringing their hands over concert backdrops. As I wandered around the photos, I couldn’t help but think that if they could be project onto screens for backdrops, it would be awesome. I also thought the art on these sites would make great story starters for creative writing and could be included to enhance and illustrate student writing.  

I also think that visiting these sites promotes collaboration-even making comments on the entries does this and that providing opportunities to use these sites contributes to a spacial intelligence of Gardner’s MI theories.

On a personal level, I can see the utility of using a photosharing site to keep in contact with my friends and family. I can also see it would be a great way to journal-both professionally (following FOIP standards, of course), and personally especially on travels.
I look forward to further exploration and virtual travels(!) of photosharing sites.


Joanne said...

Hi Linda,

I have noticed that a lot of people are using these photosharing sites for professional and personal purposes--one example is from a blog that I read regularly. The blogger posted a link to photos of a recent library conference. The conference organizers were encouraging everyone who had photos from the conference to post them and tag them with the same tag(s) so that they would all be easily accessible by anyone who was interested in seeing what went on at the conference.

I also have friends who went to Japan in the fall and they posted many of their pictures on a photosharing site--it isn't quite the same as looking at the photos with your friends over drinks, but it does let you share in such a special thing with people you know!

I loved your idea of using photos from sites like this as a background for concerts or plays--great idea!


Arlene said...

Hi Linda, As a traveller, I really enjoyed Woophy and can see my students and I going on virtual fieldtrips, ones that link to curriculum or out of our own curiousity. We have a world map of where all the students in our school were born. Student names dot the entire map. We could look those up as well. I also checked out "they're not going to be happy about this down at the henhouse." I grew up on a mixed farm and we had a henhouse so I had a chuckle over that. Arlene

elizabeth said...

Making comments on the sites of the photos would promote collaboration. I could even see primary students contributing comments to photos (say, about fieldtrips) as a way of encouraging collaboration and writing. I am only beginning to see the potential for this aspect of the tool in our classrooms.

Val Martineau said...

Hi Linda:
Yes aren't we lucky to be taking this course and being required to 'play' on the internet? I love it! I agree photosharing has the potential to inspire students but teachers must be comfortable with its usage as well.

Introducing students to copyright and copyleft is on my agenda as I just finished lessons on plagiarism with our intermediates. From that we got into a discussion about downloading tunes legally and ilegally and how that too is 'stealing' an artists work.

The backdrop for concerts is an inexpensive way to create stunning, theme appropriate visuals for concerts, plays, presenations etc. Love it!

Ronda said...

Hi Linda,

You certainly did a lot of investigation into many photosharing sites! Very impressive. Thank you for pointing out the article by Joyce Valenza about copyright/copyleft/fair use.