Blog # 1 – Photo Sharing Sites

September 20, 2008

Photo sharing Sites

My thoughts aren’t as scattered this week, and to prove it I’ve provided the following chronology of my journey to choose and explore photo sharing sites:

1.  I did all my background reading first. I read recommended reading, reviews and articles and made a list of recommendations/sites to explore: Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, Openphoto.net, Phanfare, Webshots, PhotoBucket, Smugmug & Zoto.

2. I logged on as a student would at a workstation in the library at my school to see which ones are blocked or not functional to narrow down the list. Surprise of all surprises! None of them were blocked. At my adult high school, students have access to a less restricted web server – although most sites utilizing javascript are blocked for student use. I did discount Webshots because their images didn’t display properly on the computers in the library. I’m thinking that for those schools/sites which do block some or all aspects of other photosharing sites, the free Picasa 3 download MAY be the answer.

3. I had originally thought that I would explore Zoto 3.0 in full because I read that it would publish directly to WordPress blogs. Looking carefully at Flickr, I learned that it too can publish directly to WordPress blogs too. So based on its reviews, popularity, services and tools I chose Flickr to explore and use in depth.

4. Based on Will Richardson’s recommendation, I re-sized and reduced the file size of some select photos from a chunky 4.0 MB each to under 2.0 MB each. To do this I used the free, downloadable photo converter/editor “Irfanview” which I already have installed on my home computer.

5. I uploaded 10 photos from  yurting holidays my husband and I have taken over the past years. (see my yurting post for more information on yurting)

6. I tagged and described each and saved them.

7. I added them to the Flickr map in the Nutimik Lake Campground, Manitoba.

8. I created a “set” and called it “Yurting”.

9. I added the photostream to my Delicious account directly through Flickr.

10. I edited one image using the Picnik application accessible through Flickrand saved it as a brighter more beautiful image than the original. (NOTE: when I was logged in at school as a student, the Picnik online photo editor did NOT work . This is good to know so we could direct students that need to edit photos to do it first using our PhotoElements software)

11. I added my Flickr photostream as a RSS feed to my Bloglines aggregator.

12. I added my Lifelonglearnerrhonda WordPress blog to my Flickr account and sent a test. I then sent a photo to my blog with a posting (yurting blog). I then sent the above image to this blog. Click on it above to see my full photostream!

13. I changed the permissions on all my photos to “Attribution- Non Commercial Creative Commons” allowing others to use, change and share my photos as long as they credit the source and do not use it for commercial gain.

14. I checked out the New Printing service only to discover that it is not available in Canada . . . yet. That’s okay, I’m already registered with kodakgallery.ca for printing my digital images.

15. I checked out Flickr Tools @ flickr.com/tools and notice that The Windows Live Photo Gallery will be useful for me to install before I upload any more images from my digital camera.

16. I checked out Flickr Services at flickr.com/services and had a blast with the Flickr Colour Picker @ krazydad.com/colrpickr. I e-mailed the URL to our Art Specialist.

17. I checked out the FlickrReplacr Bookmarklet @ www.kokogiak.com as suggested by Will Richardson to highlight words in your web browser and have them replaced with a tagged image from Flickr, but was disappointed to discover that it didn’t work in my newly installed IE beta version 8 web browser. This does give me something to explore again at work on Monday.

18. I checked out Flicktion @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/flicktion/ .

Educational Applications: The Journey Continues

My experience with using photo sharing with students up to this point has been extremely limited. I did work with the grade 12 History and World Issues teacher last year to have students from both classes create some beautiful posters using photos from Flickr and other sites. One of the objectives was to have students choose images from Flickr or websites granting permission to use the images for non commercial purposes and to cite the source properly. We found the easy to find even hard-to-find images searching for tags like “early man” or “neanderthal man”. Students were required to examine the copyright permissions carefully to be sure they could add their comments and print them out as posters. The Fair Use rules Richardson describes in chapter 7 do not apply in Canada.

Just yesterday, a group of basic literacy adult students came into the library with their teacher to create visual poems using images and words provided by PicLits.com (http://www.piclits.com/compose_dragdrop.aspx). Although PicLits is not a photo sharing site, I gleaned some very useful insights from the way the students approached the site.  This is the first time I’ve instructed students to create an account to save their work, then e-mail their best “PicLit” to their teacher. (Note: I discovered ahead of time that PicLits didn’t work for the student login, so I logged the computers on using my staff login and avoided frustration and delays.) This activity was surprisingly (or perhaps not suprisingly) successful. In the past basic literacy students have balked doing and saving simple writing tasks using Word software. None of the students seemed to have difficulty entering their school division e-mail addresses or following the saving and e-mailing instructions. I think the visual appeal is what made the difference in their motivational levels. Next time we can expand the activity to Flickr and have them write “Tag Poems” or visual stories and tag them so they’ll appear @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/flicktion/ .

Up until now I’ve been oblivious to the educational value of the social conversations and collaborative learning afforded by the photo sharing sites. Next time I help with engaging a class in Flickr, I’ll ask that they leave a comment for any photo they find appealing and especially for those they use in their work.

Now that I’ve learned we won’t have problems with our server, I’ve decided to approach one of the English teachers who does a fair big of digital photography with his students to have them post some of their images to Flickr publicly. We’ll follow and teach the privacy precautions as outlined by Terry Freedman in his article ” Photo-sharing and clip-art”. We’ll teach them how to assign tags and descriptions and ask them to examine the Creative Commons licensing carefully to decided which permissions they’ll allow. I don’t think there’s a better way to teach copyright! We can then create a group and have photos archived for existing and incoming classes. I’m sure we’ll see other applications and benefits as we go along.

Additionally, as Steering Commitee Chair of my school division’s Senior Years Technology Mentors Group, I’m going to recommend a PD/sharing sessions for using Flickr with our students. Even if it is blocked in all the other high schools in the division, it’s high time educators re-write policy for the benefit of our students. I have no doubts that other educators will feel the same way once they’ve taken a first hand look at how beneficial Flickr can be.

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