Limitless Images: Digital Photography in the Classroom

By Zahra, Anne | Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

Limitless Images: Digital Photography in the Classroom


Zahra, Anne, Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin


Digital photography is a valuable technology for today's educators. Photography-centered activities help educators foster a positive, trusting atmosphere in the classroom and give students an opportunity to develop academic and technological skills. Students may use digital photographs to report on their learning, gather images for classroom discussions and projects, or jumpstart creative activities. Photography-centered activities build technology skills, encourage creativity, and develop self-esteem. However, teachers must train students to use the camera effectively and must plan photography-centered activities carefully. Ethical considerations, including district privacy policies, must be weighed when planning photography-centered activities.

When today's educators strive to enrich their classroom instruction with technology -based activities, most focus on computer applications or the Internet. However, digital photography is an ideal tool for developing academic and technological skills. Students creating, sharing, publishing, manipulating, and analyzing digital images are actively engaged in their learning. Photographycentered activities empower students to create and communicate with others while building the student's self-esteem and breaking down cultural and emotional barriers. The ever-increasing sophistication and popularity of digital cameras has made it easier to include photographycentered activities in the curriculum.

Building Classroom Relationships

Highly effective educators foster a sense of community in the classroom, establishing a comfortable rapport with students regardless of differences in ethnic background or socioeconomic status. They make all students feel accepted and successful, even those challenged by learning disability or limited English proficiency.

Digital photography can be surprisingly helpful to any educator hoping to build trusting relationships with students. Simple snapshots of classroom groups can be displayed in the classroom and given to students at the end of the course as an inexpensive keepsake. The teacher who appears in photographs with students becomes a part of their personal historical record and may live on as a positive memory and role model for many years to come.

Simply keeping a bulletin board or scrapbook to which students can add their own photos encourages positive feelings towards the class and helps foster the trusting atmosphere the teacher hopes to create. Creating and updating a photo display throughout the term is a reliable way to document classroom activities, thereby encouraging students to discuss and reflect on what they have learned.

Teaching Through the Power of Images

The digital image is one of the best teaching resources available, whatever the content to be learned. Because digital images are so easy and inexpensive to create, retrieve, manipulate and share, digital photography is arguably the easiest technology to integrate into an instructional program. Digital photographs can be edited, altered, enhanced, and combined using expensive or free computer software. Rather than printing images, students can share them digitally, incorporating them into a slideshow or displaying them using a digital projector. Digital images can even be compiled into videos playable on a standard DVD player.

Photography-centered activities in classrooms typically include the following:

1. Reporting tasks: Students use the camera to present the product or outcome of an activity that will be graded. For example, the photos may document the steps students followed in constructing a model or carrying out an experiment. The photos may be part of a report or portfolio to be examined by the teacher, parents, or other students who will complete the activity in the future.

2. Analysis tasks: The digital images collected or created by the teacher or students are a springboard for discussion or a resource supporting a lesson. …

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