Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Iceberg Is Melting - Photosharing

I have been cold to the idea of using Web 2.0 in my classroom citing all of the usual excuses like FOIP, possible copyright infringement and questionable content. However, this course is opening my eyes so wide that my brain hurts. I now view 21st learning differently and recognize the advantages of teaching my students the tools of Web 2.0.


I began the photosharing section of my Web 2.0 journey sitting on an iceberg with an imaginary closed copy of “Digital Photography for Dummies” in my shaking hand. It is still in my hand, however, my hand is steadier now and I have at least opened the book and read the first chapters while doing a walkabout at the tip of the iceberg.

After getting started, I was soon excited to see all of the possibilities that photosharing had to offer. Sites such as Flickr, Photobucket, and Webshots made uploading pictures, digital cropping, adding text and enhancing picture quality simple, quick and efficient. Even technologically challenged people, such as myself, can create a digital scrapbook, a slideshow or link these pictures to their Facebook page.

Looking back, it was easy but it did not come without some frustration. There were many trial and error attempts before success. But nothing that an open mind and a sense of adventure could not tackle. The beauty is that, as long as you keep an original stored somewhere, you can play all you want and any mistakes are only a few keystrokes away from being fixed.
I am now inspired to practice photosharing, digital scrapbooking and then confidently share the beginning of the journey with my colleagues and students. Who knows this may even lead into creating something which is worthy of posting for public scrutiny.


I have learned that Photosharing, like an iceberg, has many layers. You can engage in photosharing as a peripheral observer at the top of the iceberg, be a producer of digital photosharing as you venture forth and scout out the terrain of the iceberg or enter the more intense and dynamic layer of social participation in a community linked by common interests in photosharing as you dive into the depths of the layers of the iceberg.

My personal use of photosharing began with an observation of the sites and photos that others had created. Then I began to produce my own digital pictures complete with titles, descriptions and text on the pictures. From this I created a slideshow and made scrapbook pages to share with family and friends. Photosharing increases the connectedness and intimacy allowing for the sharing of memories, inside jokes, accomplishments, milestones and issues. For my daughter, who is away at school, it has been a great stress relief. The ability to see photos of her new niece, has allowed her to not only feel more intimately connected with us but has made her feelings of separation diminish. She knows that we are just a click away.

Photosharing sites also act as a repository for all of your photos. Sites such as Flickr allow you to catalogue your pictures according to personal tags so that you can easily retrieve them. The web storage frees up space on your hard drive and the ability to tag pictures saves hours (if anyone actually did it) of cataloguing pictures. The added bonus is that now your photos can be accessed anytime, anywhere by you. The potential problem however, is that computer savvy people may also be able to access the photos of your loved ones and use them for unsavory ends. This danger can hopefully be eliminated by the privacy settings.

For me it is the need to balance the fear of digital piracy with the realization that photosharing has positive ends. Being part of the public side of photosharing is one I have not entered but I can see how public photosharing would be a positive way to enhance the social consciousness of global citizens. As people share photos of common interests or global events they develop a sense of community that makes our differences dissipate and magnifies our similarities. These feelings of unification will hopefully lead to a stronger global community and I would like to participate in this community. It is just too far down the iceberg for me at this point in time.


Teachers need to focus on the learning before they attempt the teaching. Educators are quick to jump on a “bandwagon” before being fully aware of the uses and pitfalls of a new pedagogy. Using photosharing could fall into the same trap. Do not just sit at the top of the iceberg but scale down and try all of the capacities of the tool before you attempt photosharing with your staff or students.

Ideas of how to use photosharing in your learning and teaching are identified in our textbooks, in journal articles, in blog posts, etc. Try photosharing in:

Social Studies – link to GeoEarth for pictures of countries around the globe
Language Arts - Digital Story-Telling, Personal Storyboards, photo journals
Math - Everyday pictures to link math concepts to the real world
Science – Track the process of an experiment or Classification
Art - Art appreciation, view styles of artists, post student examples of methods
and styles
Health - Addiction prevention slideshow
Phys. Ed. – post techniques and examples for younger students
Use Flickr with a Smartboard to create sets to classify as part of something or not (Barry Bennet, John Antonetti)
Photo field trips
PD - sharing of curriculum ideas – sharing of methods of photosharing

But this is only the tip of the Iceberg. There are many ways to implement photosharing beyond the mere sharing of photos. The capacity to comment on photos, explore cognitive reasoning behind the photos/comments and build networks of people with common interests is socially empowering. However, teachers need to be very careful if they are promoting the use of photosharing outside of their own building. Anytime you are promoting sharing with an audience that you do not know, you are opening yourself up to issues of privacy, confidentiality and appropriateness. One needs to ask themselves can the benefits be derived in another way?

That concludes my tour around the iceberg of photosharing. Remember a picture is worth a 1000 words. So start photosharing and hang on as the iceberg melts.


Davies, Julia. Merchant, Guy. (2009) Web 2.0 for Schools: Learning and Social Participation. New York, NY: Peter Lang

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Chu, Jennifer. Van Dussen, Erik. Pedagogical Uses of Flickr. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2009 from

Hartley, John. McWilliam, Kelly. Burgess, Jean E. Banks, John A. (2008) The Uses of Multimedia: Three Digital Literacy Case Studies. Retrieved Sept 17, 2009 from

Schrum, Lynne. Solomon, Gwen. Web 2.0 and You: Starting the Conversation. Retrieved Sept 17, 2009 from

Andrew’s Blog (2009) Students Seeking Relevance In Education. Retrieved on Sept. 17, 2009 from C:\Documents and Settings\Reception\Desktop\Students Seeking Relevance In Education - Classroom 2_0.mht