May 07, 2006

Miles Berry

The St Ives girls are making increasing use of Flickr as a source for images for school work, which I’m delighted to encourage. Not so much of this in my maths lessons yet (although I have things in mind for patterns, symmetry and tessellations…), but there’s been some great use in geography for illustrating work on glaciation, and this last week I’ve been hugely impressed by the way it’s being used for English lessons.

They’re working on persuasive writing and have spent some time looking at the sort of text that finds its way into advertising brochures, so now they’re having a go at making a small tri-fold brochure for a holiday resort. Of course the emphasis is on the text, but no brochure is going to be complete without a few pictures. In the past we’d have used Google image search, but this has provided fairly limited choices, usually at poor quality, with occasional worries about inappropriate images slipping through the automatic filtering, and we’ve usually had to turn a blind eye to IP issues. Now with Flickr, there’s a whole host of really high quality stuff available via tag searching, much of which is available under Creative Commons licences. They’re thus becoming a lot more discerning about what makes good pictures for their brochures, and eavesdropping some of the conversations suggests that there’s lots of visual literacy and semiotics being learnt along the way. Because of the way Flickr presents photographs in their contributor’s stream, there’s now a far stronger recognition of the process and the photographer rather than just concern with the actual image.  I hope that some will be inspired to be more creative in their own photography, and perhaps share a few pics on flickr themselves.

A little bit of googling around this finds a nice summary post from Liberal Education Today about other uses of Flickr in schools, and another with a lovely example of using the annotation and comment tools to teach art history.