At a recent staff development workshop at school, the principal casually said something in front of a room full of teachers that stuck in the back of my mind. He said that one of the things he wanted to do was to share with the local community what was happening in the school. He also said that in his conversations with parents and others, that they wanted to see what the students were doing in the classroom.
As the day continued, I wondered about what kinds of things happened in the classroom that could easily be documented in a meaningful way and how best to make these artifacts available to others outside the school. While there are many teachers that do lots of neat things with their students, there was one particular department that came to mind in which the students create a lot of neat stuff that could easily be photographed and posted onto the Internet for others to appreciate. I emailed the department chair to see if she or her teachers might be interested in doing something. She responded enthusiastically, saying that they wanted to explore blogging and other technologies and asked me if I would attend their next department meeting in January to discuss these ideas. (Please note that since I have not yet met with these teachers, I will be referring to the as “the department” through out the rest of this posting.)
My thinking is that the teachers in this department could take pictures of their students’ creative works and these pictures could be put onto a photo-sharing website. Ideally, the photo-sharing website would allow for images to be tagged and organized so that people could easily find either student-created items for a specific project or items created during the school year by that specific teacher’s class. In addition, the teachers might also want to include a description of the assignment or the techniques used by the students to provide background information about the students’ creative works presented.
I explored using Flickr as the photo-sharing service. It allows users to organize their images into sets (or albums), and to add descriptive information to each image (title, description, tags, etc.) The sets were also identifiable by title and a description about the set could also be added. Flickr also allows users to easily make images public or private, to apply Creative Commons licenses to these images. RSS feeds are also available for the sets, and individual images could also be shared through a variety of means (sharing through social media, as a link, or through html code for a web page).
I could easily see the teachers in this department express an interest in possibly using Flickr to showcase their students’ works. Each teacher desiring to use it would need to create their own accounts. I would recommend that they create a set for each of their class assignments and to tag their images with some meaningful information (perhaps by medium or subject). I did create a collection of sets to show these teachers to illustrate how Flickr could be used. I look forward to sharing these with them and I would be glad support them on this project if they wanted to do something.
- Molly the Wonder Dog
- Buck the Trusty Sidekick
- Jack the Enforcer
- Horsing Around
- Herd of Cows
- Quack Me Up
I like the way that Flickr meets all of the criteria for this possible application at my school. It would allow both the department and the school to easily share stuff that the students are doing in the classroom with the community. It would be very easy for these teachers to upload images and organize these into albums. Other school departments or programs might also be interested in doing something similar. It would also foster a very meaningful dialog between teachers, students, administrators, and others about how this and other Web 2.0 technologies could be used safely within a K-12 school setting. I am glad that I was at that staff development workshop to hear this wish being expressed.