So, this year I finally decided to try an experiment in photo sharing with my AP Environmental Science students using flickr. I was first introduced to the concept when I was a part of a Powerful Learning Practice cohort two years ago. We were are a part of a photo sharing project to help build community (31 pictures posted in 31 days) between group members from all over the world. But in this case, my class has already established some sense of community this year and I was looking for something more. We were exploring urban areas and there impact on the environment. We were discussing urban planning, so I issued the following challenge:
“You must take and upload at least 2 photos (or short video clips) by 11pm on Tuesday, January 11th. One photo should illustrate an urban or suburban area that has employed good design, and the other should illustrate an area that is in need of redesign. You must leave a meaningful comment on ONE photo/video you find interesting that has been uploaded to our group by 11pm on Wednesday, January 12th. *Don’t be surprised if you get comments from our guest speaker (an urban planner) who I have invited to join the group.”
I had already posted two pics in our flickr pool as examples. One was a street level view and the other was an aerial view using Google Earth (screen capture using Jing). So, I expected kids to use their cell phones when they were out in our community (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA) to take pictures and then upload and share them. A few students did this, and a few students used Google Earth also. Well, in the mean time this rare massive winter storm system rolled in:
So, this really cut into my student’s ability to take pictures out in the community. But…sometimes kids surprise you. I was sitting at home, checking in our group pool when I noticed a student had used Google Maps to get a street level view of an area from their home! Well, I did not say they could not do it…this started a trend. Other students started using online satellite and mapping programs in lieu of taking pictures in the community in dangerous conditions. I love it! This is part of the beauty of a blended classroom. The snow shut our physical classroom down for a few days, but the learning continued in a virtual space. Check out the project at our group pool. Feel free to contact me if you want a copy of the assignment.
*Update (1/13/11): Now that we are done, check out the slideshow: