Capturing the visuals…

I always think that if I have watched something or bought an item of technology then I will instantly be able to actually do what ever I have watched or, using the piece of equipment, make or produce something special. The classic examples of these are watching tutorial videos and buying digital cameras. Unfortunately, although in the hands of an expert it might be true, buying a really expensive camera does not make me a great photographer! Photography has changed throughout the years and now taking pictures/images has never been easier…but how are we engaging with this imagery and what do we actually use it for…time for a waffle!


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With the third years on the programme completing and handing in their last assignment, the end of programme ball became the important event of the year. Throughout the last few weeks, the final story of their time on the course and at the university was mainly been told through images shared across social media. In last week’s Wilson Waffling Live I waffled about the way technology is changing what and how we remember things and the role of images has certainly had an impact on this. Here are some of the changes and uses of imagery I have seen and how I use images within my own practice.

  • Let’s go Mobile! – When I was teaching in the primary sector I remember that initially there were two Sony Mavica Cameras within the whole school, with teachers having their own set of 3.5 inch floppy discs to save their images to.
    Digital Camera with a floppy drive

    One of my first digital cameras

    Taking images had to be well planned, with the batteries charged in advance and floppies stacked up ready. As technology advanced, more compact digital cameras, with leads to download the images directly to the computer, become more popular. However, often there was still a dash to the stock cupboard when something important happened that we wanted to capture, or my teaching assistant would walk around with the camera almost permanently attached to her belt. Now, with the dawn of mobile technology, images are mainly captured on phones and tablets. This provides a quick and easy way to take an image and instantly share it across social media. The delay that was once apparent as images were downloaded and uploaded has now gone, with the process being almost instantaneous. Although initially the quality was not as good as a digital camera, this is no longer the case and no-one is ever without an image recording device. Although I have never used Google Glass – I know @PhilVincent has due to his old twitter profile pic – I wonder how mobile we will actually become. Will imaging capturing devices eventually be installed or implanted into glasses or even eyes! Then we will be capturing images in a flick of an eye lid!

  • What do we snap? – I am wondering, if you are a tutor like me in higher education, whether or not you have a similar experience when you hold up and recommend a book in your sessions. I’ve taken to actually posing when I do this now. Why? Well many a time, as well as writing the title etc down, a range of mobile devices appear and the book is snapped. To be honest, I have actually started to do this as well – when books are either recommended to me or I see one I like. Images of the front of a book Working in primary education, we are constantly making resources to support teaching. These have been captured and shared including activities/games for mathematics and more recently, a wealth of story sack ideas. If you want to see these then just search for #ysjmaths and #ysjenglish to see what the students have been doing. Within mathematics we have a session on the use of the outdoors to support the teaching of mathematics. In this session, images are taken from around the campus and then annotated with questions and activities relating to the possible mathematics. These are then stored and shared on the VLE for everyone to engage with.
    Completing the BFG maths activity

    Completing the BFG maths activity

    In a similar way, content and activities are captured and shared. Whether these be images of groups participating in maths activities or just the final group photo of the year, both serve the same purpose of providing a aid to remembering and maybe reminiscing. Of course, for the more instant snap and go images, Snapchat has become a well used application. Images accompany messages sent through this application serving to remind students of hand-ins and/or what groups are up to in other sessions, other than the ones in which I teach them. There is also, of course, the obligatory 100 words to go or I’ve finished my assignment snaps which get shared in their stories.

  • Remembering the final group session.

    Remembering the final group session.

  • Storing and Sharing – I was going to waffle about these separately, but I suddenly realised that they are both part of a decision process that we have to complete after taking an image. Mobile devices have probably become the main way to store images, with the more savvy of use backing up these images to cloud based servers. I’ve always been a fan of Flickr for storing my images – way before I moved to higher education- but now social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook appear to be the most popular method of storing and subsequently sharing. Of course Twitter is also up there with these two platforms, but due to the integration with the initial applications, Twitter for me is more of a sharing platform rather than storing one. As I have mentioned before, despite is dubious backstory, Snapchat also has a part to play here. Although we are assured that there is limited ‘storage’ involved, for short term sharing it is an application that has its purpose and one which I certainly use within my practice. One problem I have encountered when the students are using their own devices for capturing images, is trying to get the images from the student’s phones to either the class iPads or laptops. In the previous section I mentioned taking images and annotating these with mathematical questions and activities. Often, with these images being taken on the students own devices, transferring them instantly or quickly to a class device does present some challenges. I probably have to just remind people of that piece of advice- be careful what you share – you never know how it is going to be interpreted or when it will come back to give you a nasty bite…

  • Many memories are stored with images. They serve as a visual prompt to remember people, events and emotions. Just as they serve as prompts for memories, they can also replicate this function for learning. By capturing and sharing images it is possible to add another dimension to learning and remembering. As technology as advanced the process of capturing, storing and sharing images has become easier and more instantaneous. With these advances we, as educators, should continue to use them as an integral part of our practice. In years to come, maybe the images we take today will be the only copy of our teaching sessions that actually remain. If this is the case, then I am sure people will be aware that we were learning and having fun.

    IMG_1794.JPG

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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    Have fun and I’ll catch you later