Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Getting to know you... with Flickr

Last year I was visiting a student and the conversation went something like this (names have been changed to protect the guilty):

Me: Peter did something like that, you should ask him for his worksheet.
Student: Who?
Me: Peter... you know, one of the twins.
Student: Twins? Are there twins in the class?
Me: Yes! They are identical. How could you not have noticed?
Student: Identical twins? Are you sure?

...And so it went on. I couldn't believe she hadn't noticed there were identical twins in the class. Not only did she not know - when she asked her friends, they hadn't noticed either. There were about thirty-six students in the class and they only came together in that particular grouping for about sixteen weeks out of a thirty-six week course. They didn't know each other! I had made the effort to get to know all of them, but forgot to give them the time and opportunity to get to know each other. Silly me! I had the same problem with a Personal and Social Education class the first time I taught one back when I was a real teacher but I clearly didn't learn the lesson.

David Muir
David Muir,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
Therefore, this year I thought we should make a deliberate effort to help the students get to know each other. One of the ideas we used was to set up a private Flickr group, post everyone's photos to it and invite the students to add their comments. To start the ball rolling, I posted and answered four questions on my own photo. The questions were:
  1. The last film I watched in the cinema;
  2. The last CD/piece of music I bought;
  3. Favourite TV programme;
  4. Favourite website.
I finished by saying, "Analysis of my warped personality based on this revealing list is awaited with anticipation." I also asked them to answer the same four questions on their own photos This seemed to work fairly well. Follow the link on the photo to see what I said and how the students responded. (The rest of the class photos are still in a private group.)

I like the way Flickr allows you to set up private groups. I created the group and then invited the students to join. Only the people I invited to the group can see the photos and make/read comments. I thought that it was important that this type of exercise takes place in private- just the class group. (Which is why I made my picture public only after getting the permission of the people who had left comments.)

As I said, this seemed to work well. Could this work with classes in schools? (Assuming of course that the photo sharing sites are not blocked in the school by your Authority!) Could you adapt it for getting to know other people? For example, at the start of a joint project with pupils from another school? Or children involved in an exchange visit? Or a "People that help us" project (lollipop person, classroom assistant, librarian, ...)? Do you get the picture? :-) Please leave a comment with other ideas, or describe your own getting to know you ideas if you've done this kind of thing already.

We have continued to use Flickr throughout the year and, if you are interested, I could make some more posts on classroom/educational uses of photo sharing websites. Do you want to see more?


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Postscript

I only recently noticed that there is an option in Flickr to display your most popular photographs according to how interesting Flickr thinks they are. Apparently my most interesting photograph is the one of Darth Tater. Second is a picture of a classroom (for reasons that are not entirely clear). However, the third most interesting picture in my collection is a photo of one of the students. I asked his permission to show you the screenshot here because the line underneath the photo's name amused me.

Nobody counts Colin McAlpine as a favoriteIt says, "Nobody counts Colin McAlpine as a favorite". Harsh but fair? You be the judge. :-)

7 comments:

Anne Davis said...

I am very interested in more posts from you on this subject! What a great use of Flickr! Flickr is always on my list of "things to dig a little deeper into" that I haven't done so well on but want to! Your post just may be the prompt to get me going! Your posts on the recent conference made me feel as though I was attending and learning right along with the group. Thanks for sharing...

Best,
Anne

john said...

Hi David,
I'd love more, it might help tip the balance against filtering flickr out of school.

David said...

Hello Ann

Thank you for the comments about my eLive posts. I'm glad you enjoyed following what we were up to. If you enjoyed it half as much as me... then I enjoyed it twice as much as you. :-)

Hello John and Anne

Thank you both for your encouragement to post more ideas. I wrote the offer in a fit of enthusiasm and now that you've called my bluff, I'll need to come up with the goods. I've got a few more ideas up my sleeve, but I'll try to pace myself and aim for perhaps one a week.

As for tipping the balance and getting photo-sharing into school... I doubt it, but it would be nice to think so. :-)

Gordon McKinlay said...

Flickr seems to define interestingness in relation to the number of views and comments made. I was interested that my most interesting picture was one of a highland cow blocking a farm road on the way to the outdoor centre at Ardeonaig.

David said...

Interestingness seems to be much more interesting than that. For example I have one photo with 560 views as well as three comments and being counted as a favourite, but it is my eigth most interesting picture. Colin at number three only has 98 views, three comments and (as already stated) nobody counts Colin McAlpine as a favorite!

Views and comments seem to be important, but there must be something else thrown into the interesting mix.

OLi said...

Its just another fit of jealous rage from another hissy fit throwing system that couldn't have me!

David said...

Thank you Colin... I think.