Digital Cameras: Management Hassles, Curriculum Possibilities

By Anderson, Mary Alice | Multimedia & Internet@Schools, July-August 2007 | Go to article overview

Digital Cameras: Management Hassles, Curriculum Possibilities


Anderson, Mary Alice, Multimedia & Internet@Schools


CABLES, adapters, and memory cards disappear; batteries run low at inopportune times; and busy teachers quickly borrow a camera from another classroom "just for a second" to take advantage of a photo opp. Digital photographers excited about creating photo-filled classroom Web pages come to work sessions with a camera incompatible with the computer's software or without the necessary connecting cable. It seems that no technology has caused more management hassles than digital cameras.

The problems are a natural result of human forgetfulness, busy schedules, and never-ending technological change. Equally frustrating is the "just shoot and print" approach. It's disappointing to see tools with great potential to enhance curriculum and to communicate with families used only to fill classroom bulletin boards while a small fortune goes into color printing. While well intended and a nice touch for the classroom, such an approach does not take advantage of the camera's potential as a curricular tool.

MANAGEMENT HASSLES

Management hassles can be eased with a few simple precautions. Here are some tips and techniques:

* Install the camera software on the computers that teachers are using to make it convenient for them to use the camera.

* Store each camera and its components in a camera case with a strap or a tote box and include the manual.

* Identify each camera and its components uniquely. For example, place a green mark on each part of camera unit 1, place a red mark on each part of camera unit 2, etc.

* Check cameras in and out through your automation system, and insist that nothing is just passed on to another person. Inspect each unit before it leaves the media center and again when it is returned.

* Keep an extra supply of batteries with each camera, and keep battery chargers plugged in and readily available for use, especially during prime photography time.

A Minnesota media specialist wrote to me about the problems batteries present: "Managing batteries is a challenge due to the many different people who use them [or] assist with handling them. And then there is the issue of dealing with multiple battery types just within the AA size." He offered considerations and shared the guidelines he found on the Web, including the article "Battery Care and Maintenance" (http://is.med.ohiostate.edu/ policies/battery.htm). (If you do your own search, you will find many informative articles.) And he sent me the abbreviated guidelines he posts by battery chargers in his media center. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1: One Minnesota media specialist's guidelines regarding
rechargeable batteries for digital cameras

Please follow these rules for caring for our rechargeable batteries:

* Right now we are using rechargeable NiMh
batteries BUT of varying strength and brand. Do
not mix old and new batteries or batteries of
different types. Never mix rechargeable and
nonrechargeable batteries.

* High temperatures during charge and standby kills
batteries. (Do not expose batteries to temperatures
above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, leaving
batteries in your car in the hot summer sun can
result in permanent damage. Your best bet is to
store them in a place that's cool and dry.)

* Do not overcharge the batteries. Take them out of
the charger or unplug the charger once batteries
are charged. There can still be a small current
flowing in chargers even when they say that they
are off. This can cause a deep discharge over a
longer period of time that damages the battery and,
in extreme cases, destroys it.

* Do recharge your batteries before or after
long-term storage. Batteries discharge over time,
and if not recharged they may leak and corrode the
camera/recorder.

* Do not throw your batteries away when they run
out of juice. They are chemical waste. Follow the
battery manufacturer's disposal and recycling
instructions or the recommended guidelines for
your local area. … 

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