Friday, September 18, 2009

Is Education Ready for Photobucket?

How do I tour a bucket?

Back in the 80’s buckets were simple, powerful, intuitive tools. As a young man I used them for various vital tasks like filling with dirt, picking up dirt, and moving dirt. On the occasional Sunday my family would get fancy and turn the bucket over so we had an extra chair for company. As I toured something called “Photobucket”, I realized that I wasn’t in the 80’s anymore. But this Web 2.0 tool turned out to have many similarities to good ol’ faithful.

Like old buckets, most of Photobucket was easy to learn how to use. I began my adventure by watching how other people used it. People used it to create albums, scrapbooks, artistic backgrounds, inspirational posters, and to make others laugh. Beyond photos, people even shared videos of all kinds.

After hours of searching I got my own bucket to try. I effortlessly uploaded pictures from my computer and arranged them into albums and even a dynamic slideshow. Editing photos is fun and easy. I looked at scrap booking but if my wife found out I was scrap booking online, guess what my Friday nights would be spent doing?

As my life isn’t that exciting, I also borrowed from other people’s buckets and added them to my own, my blogs and my social networking sites. This is where my major frustration kicked in. Nothing is more frustrating than a bucket with holes in it. Sharing my memories through my blogs and my social networking pages should be simple and intuitive. I found out, however, that sometimes you can spend hours trying to find the right feed to click, entering multiple passwords, and copying large amounts of html just to find out that the feed/images/video won’t show up how and where you want them to. But for the most part, the skills of clicking and dragging were all I needed.

Is the bucket useful to me?

Old buckets didn’t have lids so we didn’t store stuff in them that we didn’t want to spill out. Photobucket and other sites are advertised as robust sites to backup thousands of my photos. Even though I don’t have tons of photos, my wife and son do. Having their images and video stored online would definitely help. Beyond the storage, the technology of tags, combined with simple album creation, would mean that our extended family in Barbados, South America, the USA, Norway, and Central Canada could easily tour our memories. No more scary trips with our backup drive in tow.

Is the bucket useful to my profession?

I am excited and anxious about using this new fangled bucket. First the excitement. I work in a small northern Aboriginal community. Effective learning is participatory in nature (Davies & Merchant, 2009). Our community’s history is being lost as elders pass away and as tragedies claim physical cultural artifacts. Sites like Photobucket would allow old photos and videos to be preserved and to be shared relatively easily in our classes for years to come. My Northern Studies and Experiential Science notes could include content from my students’ families.

Beyond the above, our isolation wouldn’t hamper our ability to share professional resources as we would simply be a click away. I ran into a great video for my next dance unit that I couldn't perform in my wildest dreams. The access to these images also could enhance photography classes, animation classes, art classes, history classes…AND this stuff is FREE (nothing excites a teacher or principal like a FREE bucket).

The anxious part deals with the feasibility of this tool in light of privacy issues, protecting our students, present school computer use policies, and the increased use of internet filtering. Our internet is managed through a government office that has increased the amount of content they filter. Our computer use polices at present prohibit students from posting any personal content anywhere on the net. Serious discussions with Elders would have to take place as traditionally their stories and images can only be used with their permission. Like myself, others believe schools can be safe places to learn about many aspects of life. Some go as far as to suggest that there is a major movement towards 2.0 based education (Richardson, 2009). But until all stakeholders begin to redefine life in 2.0 terms, allowing this tool to be used openly by my students in school will likely continue to generate friction and conflict (Davies & Merchant, 2009).

Has anyone found a way to harness the power of photosharing in schools so we don’t have to face consistent battles with filters, angry parents,inappropriate content,overly curious students, and the like?

Traditional print resources:

Davies, M., & Merchant, G. (2009). Web 2.0 for schools. New York: Peter Lang.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

3 seconds on Photobucket and you can edit anything.

Our Place in the North
Photobucket is another useful tool. The power is in the plethora of options....the struggle still remains in seamless, flexible, intuitive and glitch-free ways of sharing with other online applications.
Other than the cost it still easier to edit at home and upload content to one site instead of trying to navigate mulitiple online applications?

Kanye...the key to engagement???

One struggle that we often face in the classroom supporting or fostering student motivation. Some of the content we cover doesn't seem pertinent. Some may argue that our educational system is dated and needs to be reworked but that is another discussion.
After watching the Video Music Awards the other day and the backlash on the net, my mind began to swim. Our students do have vivid imaginations, they are creative and they are constantly looking for ways to express themselves. Not every student however is an artist or a computer programmer BUT they can work a camera, they can work with digital media, and with minimal guidance they can use Web 2.0 tools to bring their imaginations into the visible realm. can we as educators tap into that to bring Social Studies, English, Science, Math, CALM to life? Take a look at the parodies that mash together seemingly unrelated ideas into provocative, discussion worthy, and entertaining finish products worthy of a portfolio. I will say in advance that some of the parodies in the following link wouldn't be able to be used in their entirety in class due to language but the Hitler and Obama clips are very well done.
Imagine students generating mash-ups and parodies around poetry, historical political dissensions, critiques of colonial ambitions, pivotal scientific discoveries...and the list goes on.
Thoughts? Concerns?