Enhancing Learning with Images: Evidence from City and Islington CollegePosted by Sandra Partington on June 25, 2010
In 2005 we ran a project called “engaging the visual learner”. The project took the form of an action research project for a group of teachers and a one-day staff development event that included contributions from, TASI, SCRAN and JISC RSC.
The theme was a conscious effort to;
- Encourage teachers to investigate approaches to teaching i.e. the visual learner, learning styles, differentiation
- Introduce new classroom technologies at the college, PC, interactive whiteboards, projectors, internet connection, sound and video
- Introduce the Virtual Learning Environment and its potential for blended learning
- Introduce the latest image bank resources for teachers and how to search them
A review of a small selection of the projects gives an insight to what teachers wanted to achieve and why;
An activity to cover Health and Safety across a number of GNVQ subject areas, Business, Media, Beauty Therapy and ICT was designed to include: searching for images on the web and in image banks; downloading and storing images; creation of a picture quiz to test knowledge, while other groups used the picture quiz as a class exercise. The use of images and the direct engagement of the learners in finding the images was a success, improving engagement in this otherwise dull area of the curriculum. It also made full use of the classroom technology, from the projected images for group work, to the picture quiz on the individual PC.
Strong images from the animal world were needed to illustrate a PowerPoint presentation and classroom exercise on the subject Non Verbal Communication and to be posted as a resource on the VLE for further study, for students on the Foundation Degree in Health Studies course. The strong visuals used on the classroom projector gave a stunning introduction to the subject and were later used in a handout. A number of image banks were searched for copyright-cleared images, or images free for educational use. The teacher had to learn to download the images and then import them into PowerPoint and resize them to fit the page layout.
Simona teaches Italian A level using real life Italian news, and in this example, with branched story options using PowerPoint. The presentation was to be used first in the classroom, projected on the board, to introduce a new topic, to elicit existing vocabulary and to stimulate discussion. Afterwards students used the presentation to continue their independent research, deciding which story to follow in depth by choosing that branch of the PowerPoint. The learners commented that they liked the use of pictures as they: helped them remember things better, made the lesson more interesting and made the lesson more real. The teacher noted that she would like to continue with this practice and in future include sound and video in the presentations.
What’s changed since 2005?
- More image collections have been digitised and are easier to find and use
- Cheaper digital cameras and cameras on phones
- Cameras are designed for the non expert, but produce high quality images
- Skills in taking, manipulating and posting images have become more commonplace with the use of Facebook and other social networking sites
- Cheap or free editing software is readily available, designed to be easy to use
- New pedagogy and examples of good practice are available as case studies via the web
What’s new, what would this project do if it ran in 2010?
This year we have invested in wireless connectivity in parts of the college, plus mobile devices and laptops to try out a flexible approach to teaching spaces, there has also been a surge in interest in making video podcasts and sets of “podcast toolkits” (camera, tripod, hard drives & Mac Books) have recently arrived. Based on these recent initiatives, if this project ran again we would promote ‘Digital Storytelling’ as the theme. This practice is growing and encompasses a number of skills that need to be learned plus an emphasis away from teacher created content and towards learner created content. In a recent pilot a group of teachers took part in a digital storytelling workshop lead by John Whaley (of Molenet). They used Picasa, Photostory 3 and Format Factory to assemble a story using pictures, sound narration and text and then prepared it for posting on the web or for use on mobile devices. The sites below show good examples and expand on the theory behind storytelling.
Teachers will explore what’s available to them, what’s been done already and use this knowledge to create new types of activities for teaching and learning and assessment that can challenge, stretch and inspire learners, utilising their growing confidence with creation and use of multimedia and the phenomenon of social, collaborative working via the web.
Browse the following links to resources and case studies to find out more about the technologies and approaches mentioned in this article and I hope some inspiration!