Category Archives: photos

What’s a stereogranimator?

What’s a stereogranimator  you ask? Well, I used it to make this 3D animated gif with photos from the archives of the New York Public Library.

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index
GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator

The instructions are sparse so I’m not sure if my picture is supposed to vibrate so violently – but what a concept! I read about this on the iLibrarian website –

The NYPL’s Stereogranimator lets users create and share animated GIFs and 3D anaglyphs using more than 40,000 stereographs. Users can browse through the NYPL’s collection of dual photos and then combine them to make a 3D image. This project was inspired by Joshua Heineman’s project that he started four years ago. The San Francisco-based artist was using the NYPL’s collection of stereographs to create animated gif images for his Cursive Buildingssite. His project went viral and the Library took notice and began collaborating with him to create the Stereogranimator.

Go ahead, make one yourself.

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Images can change the world

Recently I came across this TED talk by co-founder of Getty Images, Jonathan Klein. Jonathan Klein talks about how images have the power to shed light on understanding, to transcend borders, religions, and to provoke us to take action. It’s a powerful talk using powerful images.

Although we’ve used images as communication since the beginning of time, it seems that our use of images has increased with services like YouTube, Flickr and other image-sharing applications. The internet enables easy access to images through online museums, image libraries and image-based search engines.

How much more powerful and persuasive is a cleverly created film compared to a similar text?

Currently this advertisement is showing on TV; I think it’s very clever.

And how amazing is it to see a video of historical event?

What’s an example of powerful imagery or film that you’d like to share?

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Week 3 – Take a photo with movement

This has been cross-posted from Through global lenses

Week 3: Take a photo:
With movement, maybe one of your hobbies, or activities at school or freetime

*Write about:
Your hobby/hobbies or extra-curricular activities at school, what made you choose them and what they give to you.

Photo by Danielnau on Flickr

Cricket and football were at the top of our boys’ list of hobbies and pasttimes for Week 3′s assignment. This prompted a discussion about the different types of sport with questions about Australian Rules football and cricket.

You’re right; cricket is not a very common sport in the USA. I don’t know to much about cricket, but it kind of looks like baseball. Is cricket only a male sport, or do women play too? Wow 4-5 hours! That’s a really long game! Do all games last that long or only the games that go into overtime?

And yes its not very common sport in Finland. Actually I don’t even know any Finn that plays it. I’ve seen some cricket games on TV and they sure are very long. How long is an average cricket game?

(Another comment) Is cricket little bit like baseball? Cos i only know how you throw the ball and that the bat looks weird:)

In some cases students learned the rules of sports they didn’t play in their country, for example, one of the Australian students explained the rules of squash to a student from Finland.

There is ample evidence that students are engaged in learning from the overseas students – much more than if they had just read the information in a text.

Finnish student: Mostly we swim in summer because its only time in the year when water temperature goes over 20 degree Celsius.

Wow! I can’t believe that 20 degrees is warm. What is the water temperature usually?

It really depends on the time of year. Most of summer its like 15-19 degrees but it goes way below that on other time of the year. Some finns even go to swim when water is just over 0 degree during winter.

Photo by tiaafi on Flickr

Experiences are very different amongst students. This American student’s comment has been echoed by some of the Australian students:

I like this picture I looks like it came out of an imagination not from a real place some where. I have never touched snow but I have seen it before and it did look like a lot of fun.

Photo by keithtAU on Flickr

The above photo was greeted with surprise

(Finnish student): Woah! I never believed that there is a place fort ice skating in Australia. Is that some kind of indoor ice skating arena?

Sometimes the comments are about the photography:

Photo by brentonwau on Flickr

I really like this picture. You can see the movement in it but its still very sharp (Finnish student)

Some responses go deeper:

Photo by KierenT_au

I got this picture when I was gardening and when I saw it I was fascinated. It showed to me that us humans should be like this big although there are a lot of minor obstacles in the way there are also very big ones which I think is a perfect example of life. This bug showed me that there’s always a way around even if it was very big and take a long time to get around it still managed to get around.

While watching this bug for ages I just saw at some points that you get stuck and cant move and you need a helping hand or you might just get stuck and struggle for a bit but soon figure out how to get unstuck. I think that time is the greatest thing on this planet without time where would we be? Also without choices where would we be what if we couldn’t make our own choices?

I’m not sure if I could have asked for a better response if I had included more prescriptive guidelines. This student has blended photo with higher order and creative thinking. It’s interesting to see the occasional contribution with a surprising perspective. When students read the entire cohort’s responses, they get a rich diversity – so much to take in and respond to.

Understanding is unpacked through the dialogue. An Australian student talked about swimming when it was 30 degrees and an American student responded by saying

That’s insane 30 degrees I would die down in florida when it gets to 40 i think it’s like an ice age!!! It’s so crazy on the difference between there and here. By the way your picture is very cool and the pool looks amazing:) I love swimming.

A Finnish student clarified:

Are you talking about fahrenheit or celsius? Cos 30 degrees in celsius is really hot and morgan is talking about an ice age:)

Whatever the students have shared in this week’s assignment, there is plenty of positive reinforcement from their cohort:

This is very cool. the fact that it’s your passion and you enjoy it is even cooler. I like how you actually enjoy and look forward to it is awesome.

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Filed under 21st century learning, flickr, network literacy, networking, photos, technology, Web 2.0, writing

Flattening the world with Flickr in the classroom

Photo courtesy of matthewpAU on Flickr

In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman says that there are certain ‘flatteners’ that promote and allow for connection, collaboration and creation via distance.  He was referring to technological applications which shrink geographical barriers and make global connections possible. This is my aim for a special project at my own school – a project which would enhance teaching and learning through ‘connection, collaboration and creation’, taking the students out of the classroom and into the world.

In 2009 I decided to take up a Flickr challenge to upload a photo every day for a year and post it to appropriate flickr groups. As a result I connected with others through interest and dialogue, and three of us –  Marie Coleman, Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow and I –  agreed that a similar project  would be an enriching experience for students. I was lucky to find a teacher who was interested in the project and who has supported it wholeheartedly.

Sinikka reflected:

‘I would really like to challenge my students to bring out their real personalities in the foreign language. I have learned over the years that Finns especially seem to suffer greatly from a sort of ‘personality reduction syndrome’ when using a foreign language. I blame our text books and language classes for this, since students hardly ever get the chance to express THEMSELVES in the target language, but are always asked to talk about external topics, or role play. Their use of the language is also far too fact-based – emotions and feelings are hardly ever touched upon’.

I think Sinikka hit the nail on the head by underlining the importance of students expressing themselves, instead of practising their writing skills using isolated topics and writing mainly for the teacher.

The learning is happening for us as teachers too. In the planning stages, we collaborated in a Google document, using Google spreadsheets and slideshow (thanks Marie!) to brainstorm and formulate our project. The geographical time differences weren’t a problem at all, and occasionally Sinikka would catch me in Google chat before going to bed if I was online early enough in the morning.

The final product is an 8 week project with a weekly assignment based on a photo and written description following a theme. The first assignment is to take a photo which ‘is not you, but represents you as a person’ – so, an introduction to initiate the sharing of personal information and interests. Although almost every student included sport and music in their introduction, there were diverse details which created interest in the group. The cultural differences were obvious conversation starters, and the similarities brought the students together through shared interests. I know that our boys, being in a single sex school, were interested in the opportunity to connect with the girls!

Photo courtesy of MorganT7.USA on Flickr

The project is quite  simple but with very rich results. The weekly themes set  diverse tasks. Some themes ask for the sharing of personal, cultural or geographic information, some encourage photographic creativity (‘Take a photo: of something you go past every day and take it from an interesting new perspective”), while others require deeper thinking and creative solutions (‘Take a photo that goes with the title or lyrics of a song’ or ‘Take a photo that somehow represents learning to you’).

We have used Flickr as a platform for this project. Flickr provides an easy way to upload photos, an automatic photostream for each student, and a profile for identification. Our group, Through global lenses, is a one-stop shop for the whole operation. It holds all the members from the three schools, allows for instructions and program, as well as storing all essential information such as netiquette, creative commons, commenting guidelines, etc. It even has email.

Challenges

Following  a weekly theme and guiding questions, students’ task is twofold. Firstly, to take their own photo – this requires thinking and reflection, creativity, individuality, and it is hoped that, as students become accustomed to the challenge, they will become more creative and try different things. Secondly, to write something which responds to the theme, answers prompt questions, and informs and entices readers.

When students view each other’s contributions, this sparks curiosity, natural questioning, and ensuing dialogue. It also brings out  a desire to do as well or to do something different. Students are not writing for the teacher, but for a peer audience, sharing generational views and tastes, and learning about cultural differences.

It really is one big conversation, with everyone getting a go, and nobody feeling they can’t get a word in. Several people can engage in dialogue under the same photo. Conversation arises from shared interests and curiosity about cultural differences. Students encourage each other and develop trust and respect for each other. The result is writing from desire instead of duty.

Differences in language are often the subject of conversation. Students ask and explain linguistic and semantic differences, for example, the first week’s photo has resulted in a discussion of the differences between American and Australian football.

Challenges for us include encouraging students to move away from ‘chat language’ and to write correctly and fluently. Despite our instructions, I’ve noticed in the early stages students reverting to their preferred chat in the comments.

Practicalities

It’s easy to keep up with who is commenting on your photo, or further conversation in photos you’ve commented on, when you visit the homepage for the group. Another useful feature is the availability of editing comments or writing. Teachers can ask students to improve or correct their writing at any time.

Reading through comments in the early stages, I can already see the conversations developing as more people enter the conversation, as questions are answered and elaborated on, and the desire to develop the dialogue becomes self motivating. This is very different to writing for your teacher which is a static exercise. Here the writing is interactive and can continue at any time.

I’ve noticed that our boys seem different in their writing and comments to the way they present themselves at school. In the comments they seem unafraid to say that something is beautiful, comment on cute dogs, and be generally more open. I guess that’s what comes with writing to a peer audience. That and writing to connect with kids like them from distant places. For these reasons I’m excited about this project which, even in its initial stages, has sparked authentic and engaged conversation, and which will no doubt develop for each student  his/her voice through images and words.

Photo courtesy of BasseFI‘s photostream on Flickr

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Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, network literacy, photos, teaching, Web 2.0, writing

Learning: that’s how we live

Learning is not something that can be captured, predicted or assumed. It doesn’t fit neatly in a table, it’s not defined accurately in a chart, a survey, it doesn’t happen the same way for you as it does for me.

We try to prove that we understand it, control it by conducting research, analysing results, following assessment rubrics, but we should just keep our eyes open and watch. It’s happening around us, at breakfast, in the classroom, the playground, during the holidays, on the bus, and even as we sleep.

Sometimes, as educators, we think that we haven’t influenced the learning process in any of our students (or even our colleagues). We may have been too impatient, too hasty in making that assumption. Evidence of learning can surprise you at the most unexpected times.

I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled to return to school after many weeks of holiday, but it had to happen. Last year I was very happy to join forces with a dear friend, teacher of English, who was brave enough to weather the uncertainties and hazards of ning learning. We tested the Web 2.0 waters together, and made learning interactive with real-life connections and conversation for our students. It seemed that this kind of teaching and learning was not going to catch on fast.

In the first couple of days at school this year, to my delight, several teachers have approached me to help them create a ning, blog or wiki for their class. I’m stoked. I hope that this year will be as fulfilling for them and their students as it has been for me in my own participation in learning communities online: learning from each other wherever we are.

One (or even two) of our classes will be participating in a photo blog project with Marie Coleman in Florida, USA, and Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow. Inspired by our own experiences in the Flickr 365 day photo challenge (and similar projects) – and this is how we met – we wanted to try this out in the classroom. With a weekly theme for photos, we hope that students will enjoy learning from each other,, and that literacy development will naturally spring from curiosity and an exchange of cultures.

A seemingly simple task, posting a photo and writing about it, can actually be a higher order exercise. Marie’s and Sinikka’s posts attest to the depth of thought which can be achieved.

Sinikka’s post:

Today’s Daily Shoot also became the theme of my 365 photo:

“Let’s have some fun on a Friday. Make a photo that goes with the title (or lyrics) of a song. Interpret away!”

Another ordinary day at school, in the familiar red-brick environment. I am thinking what is the state and purpose of education today. I’m sure many students would still sign Pink Floyd’s message of not needing any education from back in 1979. At least not the same old, numbing and repetitive, factory style.

Aren’t schools still too often working like the meat grinder in the brilliant Gerald Scarfe animation of the song where kids are dropped only to spew out uniform minced meat at the other end? Is there any space for individual thinking, learning methods and goals, or chances for each individual to realize their full potential? Why does it seem that the spark, the passion, the joy and creativity are all buried and forgotten inside these walls? Can our students, in their bright pink and red coats, be themselves, and not just other bricks in the wall?

By the way, there is a Finnish expression ‘counting the ends of bricks’, meaning to serve a prison sentence. Sometimes, for me as a teacher, the brick school seems prison-like, too. There are too many outside pressures, constrictions, national assessments and rigid attitudes, which tie my hands.

Marie’s post:

While keeping an eye out for right angles (today’s @dailyshoot assignment), it became apparent that there were a large number of examples in ‘man-made’ structures. On the other hand, there were fewer (or perhaps less obvious) instances in nature and humankind.

Though there is an expectation of support from the angled structures, this cobweb’s network may exemplify the ‘real world’ much more accurately! It certainly reflects the ‘hyperlinked’ nature of today’s youth in their learning and in the interconnectivity of the Internet and all of its tendrils. The web is also much more appealing to the eye, but where would it be without the support and structure of the foundational right angles – guess we need the synergistic relationship of both!

I think these examples illustrate the depth of thinking and fluency of writing which can result from a single image selected to address criteria which still allows choice.

One more thing…

The learning that springs from passion is a wonderful thing. My elder son, who has never studied photography or even art (as an elective) at school, has recently discovered a love of photography, and is learning on the fly. He has joined Flickr groups, and has challenged himself to a daily photo blog. Just last week, he was approached by Zulya and the Children of the Underground for a photo shoot for their next album!

I’m holding onto these examples of learning in the hope of making a difference to student engagement with learning, not for grades, but for life.

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Filed under 21st century learning, learning, networking, photos, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

More great quotes about learning and change

Originally uploaded by colemama

I’m spending more and more time on Flickr. It’s a rich resource in terms of creativity and content. I wanted to remind you about the Group Great quotes about learning and change.  I’ve mentioned it before, so forgive me, but I think it’s worth featuring again.

greatquotes

 Contributors to this group add photos with quotations about 21st century education. I like the succinct way quotations express multiple ideas and concepts, but coupled with an apt image they are even more effective. These can be used as posters to stimulate thinking, to promote discussion or even to remind yourself daily of what’s worth thinking about.

Top contributors currently are Dean Shareski, Scott McLeod, Darren Kuropatwa, Langwitches and Darren Draper.

There are other people who are using images for conceptual purposes on flickr. I stumbled across a few today. Amongst these was Costel Mago who uses beautiful photos to support his insights.

Here’s one of his that resounds with me:

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.

pidgeons

Personally, I find that I’m turning to images more and more for a powerful and succinct way to express ideas. Flickr is a well of shared thoughts and ideas, as well as images. Dont’ underestimate what you will find there. Find the message in the picture.

I’ve been finding so much that’s valuable to my personal and educational life on Flickr lately; I think I’ll write another post about what I’ve found for learning and teaching in Art. See you next post.

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Filed under 21st century learning, flickr, networking, photos, Web 2.0

Random facts I learned from Flickr today

They may be random, but I’m still learning.

Flickr is fun to browse, but more and more, I’m discovering Flickr to be an interesting way to learn. The photos take me into places I’ve never been, to things I normally wouldn’t see, often providing interesting background information.

Here are a few random things I learned from Flickr photos today

This photo was taken in Russia by seriykotik1970

russianbuilding

An art nouveau building near my office that was gutted by fire last week. Sadly it’ll now probably be demolished and ‘rebuilt’. In Moscow fires of this sort are often started deliberately by unscrupulous developers.
Designed by Lev Kekushev in about 1910.
Photographed in 2007

Turkish roosters are very colourful

turkishcock1

turkishcock2

Smarthistory is a group on Flickr which complements the website smarthistory.org. The purpose of this website and Flickr group is to enhance or replace the traditional art history textbook.

For example, you can learn about Matisse’s Red Studio from a short video using Flickr pictures of art collected by group members. 

Redstudiomatisse

If you read About Smarthistory, you will understand the motive behind the creation of this website and Flickr group:  

We are dissatisfied with the large expensive art history textbook. We find that they are difficult for many students, contain too many images, and just are not particularly engaging. In addition, we find the web resources developed by publishers to be woefully uncreative. We had developed quite a bit of content for our online Western art history courses and we had also created many podcasts, and a few screencasts for our Smarthistory blog. So, it finally occurred to us, why not use the personal voice that we use when we teach online, along with the multimedia we had already created for our blog and for our courses, to create a more engaging “web-book” that could be used in conjunction with art history survey courses. We also realized that this content would be useful to museum visitors and other informal learners. We are committed to joining the growing number of teachers who make their content freely available on the web.

Smarthistory is an excellent example of what can be done to create high-quality, free educational resources through collaboration. You’ll understand the scope of this project when you look at the site map which provides a hyperlinked timeline of art history. I also like to check out the discussion in groups.

The best thing about learning on Flickr is that you don’t expect to.  That’s why it’s so enjoyable.

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Filed under 21st century learning, art, flickr, learning, networking, photos, Web 2.0