I stopped in time to catch the tail-end of a workshop on using digital cameras in teaching, given by Brian Gross, Mike Kittel, and Brian Heeney. They had some great ideas for using digital cameras in the classroom.
One of my favorites was a new piece of hardward I’d never heard of called the Eye-Fi. This is a wireless device that allows you to automatically and wirelessly download photos from your camera to your computer. No more cables, no more fussing around. Instant access to the photos on your camera. There’s a range of options – they recommnded the Eye-Fi Pro (which is $140) which functions without a router (the others, that are less expensive must traffic through a router). With this technology, you can use the pictures you take in class and instantly have them up there on the screen – “Look at Suzy’s concept map!” or “Everyone look up here to see what group 3 figured out.”
As for digital camera recomendations – Brian says it’s hard to go wrong these days. You can get a perfectly good camera for $99. If your camera is capable of taking photos at 8 or 10 megapixel resolution, they recommend reducing the resolution to 3-4 mega pixels as that is perfectly sufficient for most classroom or web use and the photos download much faster. If you are buying a bunch of cameras for student use, they do recommend getting cameras that take double A batteries, so that it’s easy to replace them (without having to recharge).
The question was asked, how about having the students use the cameras in their cell phones if you can’t afford to buy classroom sets of digital cameras? One of the speakers said, yes, if you have excellent classroom management and set up the expectations in advance. The other said that he doesn’t open the door to that.
Some of their ideas for using the camera:
- pictures of procedures in a lab
- pictures of students on the first day of class
- take pictures of students goofing off or sleeping, encourages more compliant behavior (thye cautioned that you do need waivers, avoid putting student photos online, and tellt he students that if they don’t want pictures taken of them, to just request it)
- pictures of models that the students assemble
- students taking pictures of their lab results