Using Digital Cameras for Multidimensional Learning in K-12 Classrooms

Article excerpt

Digital cameras are educational tools that support purposeful instruction with a clear vision on curriculum, instruction, assessment, and reflection. This article explains the impact of digital cameras in today's classrooms, indicates effective usage of digital cameras, and relates how multidimensional learning can be provided for students by using digital cameras.

**********

As classrooms continue to be infused with various forms of technology, teachers need to recognize the role digital cameras play in student performance and the multiple dimensions this instructional tool does to enrich learning. According to Education World (2005, p. 1), "teachers across the country and around the world are discovering the many valuable uses for digital cameras; uses that both engage students and make their own professional lives easier." Further, "students embrace the creativity and assessment opportunities that digital photos offer" (Lindroth, 2004, p. 22). Therefore, it is astute of teachers to maximize and have digital cameras integrated in the classrooms for students to increase their learning and achievement.

This article: (1) explains the impact of digital cameras in today's classrooms, (2) indicates effective usage of digital cameras, and (3) relates how multidimensional learning can be provided for students by using digital cameras.

Impact of Digital Cameras

As stated by Rivard (2004, p. 55) "digital cameras have become the hottest tech trend in K-12 districts today." This is attributed to students being more visual because of their familiarity with video games, computers, and movies.

Since individuals are "intensely visual" (Wolfe, 2001, p. 152), the researcher notes that more details and data are obtained visually than any of the other senses. In essence, she emphasizes "a picture is worth at least 10,000 words" (p. 152). This is of particular importance since usage of images is more prevalent in our society. Teachers need to adapt their instructional methods to enhance the visual literacy abilities of students while enabling learners to develop higher level thinking processes (Cooper, 2003; Wilhelm, 2005).

Further, Roblyer and Edwards (2000) explain that visual literacy skills will have even greater demands for students entering the workforce as modern society advances. Then, from an instructional stance, digital cameras have value and do have a positive impact on learning.

Effective Usage of Digital Cameras

Consider the usage of digital cameras to determine the extent of how the usage is aligned with the curriculum, one's teaching, and the classroom assessments. This consideration is important because of the recent emphasis on curriculum and state mandated tests. It is suggested that judgments be made about how well the digital camera usage matches these areas. It is recommended that digital usage match well with these areas because a strong alignment yields noted results.

Another consideration is that teachers abide by school district policy and make certain the available documentation is in place before allowing individuals to be photographed. Further, teachers should stress the importance of taking appropriate images. Establishing guidelines with students' input assists them in being selective about their photographs.

Rairigh and Kirby (2002, p. 36) point out teachers' responsibilities include: (a) providing the instructional tasks for the students' engagement, (b) providing an understanding and knowledge base for the use of digital cameras, (c) providing access and instructions to students for the handling and use of this technology, and (d) providing instruction and guidelines for using this technology to provide feedback.

Thus, it is critical that planning and time be spent discussing the basic photography guidelines. In regards to effective usage of digital photos, teachers and students must learn to be deliberate and resourceful when it comes to printing and using the images produced. …