Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Flickr: Note this!

{This is a duplicate of an earlier post. See Too smart for my own good for an explanation.}

This is the second of what I hope will be an irregular series of posts on using photosharing websites in the classroom. (The first post was Getting to know you... with Flickr.) This time I want to focus on the notes feature provided by Flickr. Notes specify a rectangular area of a picture to which you attach some text. When the pointer is on the rectangle, you see the text. If the pointer is on the picture, but not on a note, you see where all the rectangles are. If the pointer is not on the picture, you see it without any indication of where the notes are so that you can enjoy the picture without visual interruptions.

Computer Room
Computer Room,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
This is probably better felt than telt as we say in Scotland. (Stop me and ask for a translation if you are stumped by the Scots language.) Follow the link to the picture of the Computer room and have a look at the comments under the picture, but especially take the time to look at the notes on the picture itself.

The picture of one of our computing labs. It was posted as an example of an exercise we wanted the students to try on their first school placement. We wanted them to think about the layout of the computer lab in the school and to think about alternative layouts. We wanted them to consider what was good about the organisation of the room and what could make it better? We asked each student to take a picture of a lab and post it with some comments. The other students were then asked to add further comments and questions, but in particular we asked them to leave notes on the picture itself.

The notes feature allows very specific parts of the picture to be highlighted and allows concise, but targeted, comments to be made. In the sample picture shown above, I created all the notes, but in the students' pictures they left notes on each other's photos to ask questions or make observations. I even started a spot the John Walsh book game (like spot the ball, but with the semi-ubiquitous Walsh book). The exercise seemed to work well and interesting and inciteful notes were added to the pictures posted.

Once again, it seemed wise to use a private Flickr group and strict guidelines were given about how to go about this exercise. Guidance included the instructions that there should be no pupils in the picture of the classroom and that the school should not be named or identifiable in any way. Also, they were to seek the permission of the teacher in charge of Computing, explaining what they were going to do, before taking any pictures.

I got the idea from Beth's Art class. I loved the way the students were sharing what they learned about the picture and the symbolism. {Rats! She has just uploaded a new painting and, as yet, there are no notes or comments. I guess a new class is starting soon, so hopefully notes will start to appear in the near future. Update: The new, uncommented picture is still there, but the old picture of "Central panel of the Merode Altarpiece by Campin", complete with notes and comments, is back!} There must be loads of uses for on-picture notes in the classroom. What about a student science project - take a picture of the experiment and add notes. Or take a picture of a student's craft work - other pupils can leave notes with questions about technique or their understanding of the work. Or a photo from a school trip of a public building or monument. Or a local area study. Or a picture of classroom wall display. Or... Do you get the picture? :-)

As before, I'd love to hear about ideas, or see more examples of this in action. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

P.S. Ewan has just posted a picture of some Vikings and used it in a workshop session at a Modern Language in the Primary School Conference. He used it as an example of adding notes to a picture.

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