Digital Cameras in the Classroom: Magic Made Easy
from ISTE 2012 - Poster Session
The session is for those that’re interested in learning photography and/or teaching photography, and realizing the many positive effects in can have on students in the...

Digital Cameras in the Classroom: Magic Made Easy
from ISTE 2012 - Poster Session 

The session is for those that’re interested in learning photography and/or teaching photography, and realizing the many positive effects in can have on students in the classroom. Click the photo to download the two handouts complete with web and book resources to get you started.

If you attended the session, and have any questions or comments, please enter them below and let’s start the conversation!


So yes, that’s a new term that I just made up, but I think it fits. In this post I want to introduce a few apps that you can use in combination with photography to help your students build their vocabulary (and freedom of expression) through a visual means.

Wordfoto snd Typedrawing are apps that allow you to use a photo and apply phrases or words of your choosing to create a piece of art. The concept behind this is to have the students take a photo of themselves (or something meaningful to them) and use words or short phrases to describe the photo. Upon entering the words or phrases, these programs overlay them onto the photo.

I think that this is a fun, expressive and creative way for teachers in any discipline to have students visually express themselves or display their understanding of a given topic. Below are a couple of very quick examples of how they can be used in the various subject areas, as well as an example:

Math/Geometry: take a photo of a court words to describe the types of angles and shapes present.
Economics: take a photo of a foreclosed house and overlay words to describe the market crash.
Social Studies/Political Science: take a photo of scale or gavel and overlay words to describe the student’s impression of the justice system.
ELA: students can take a photo based on the “word of the day” and include synonyms
Phys Ed: take photos of sports or exercises and use term/phrases to describe the activity
Music: take a photo of a student in front of an empty instrument case and words to describe the decline of music appreciation in some educational systems.
Science: photos of lab equipment and phrases/words used to describe their typical uses


Now these are fairly straight forward examples, but they can be as involved and introspective as your imagination will allow. All the while, students are engaged in composing the appropriate photograph to go along with the phrases and words that they choose.

Now get out there and try i, and lemme know what you come up with.

Photography and Scrabble

So, earlier today while presenting at iSummit in Nasville, TN we were working on a photo project of capturing the alphabet as they exist in nature. (No manipulating things or using software to enhance the photos). It’s basically an exercise in training your eye and being more observant and aware of your surroundings. In the past, this has proven to be an excellent activity for students. It’s a very creative and fun activity to do with your students, as well as being one that can be done several times while adding additional elements.

Toward the end of the class, I introduced the idea of photography scrabble to the attendees. Basically, the idea is for student to perform the alphabet project, and then use the letters that they have to play a game of scrabble. (If you’re familiar with jeopardy being played via keynote or powerpoint, this is a similar concept). All letters should be preapproved for use by the teacher, and the students can only use letters that they have in their “rack.” (Once they’ve run out of As or Bs, they can’t use those letters to spell any longer). I think this is a great idea to influence vocabulary and creativity in education through photgraphy.

If you’d like more info, or want to try it for yourself, please do and let me know about your results. I can’t wait to do it with my students!

iPhoneography Toolkit (Education) - Zapd

So, I figured that ’d start creating blog entries based on using iPhones/iPods (around the concept of iphoneography). With these entries, I think I’ll concentrate on tools, accessories, apps, websites, etc. that students can use in the classroom. The goal being to help students (and teachers) to become digital citizens, more creative and expressive in their day-to-day lives and help facilitate the concept of global collaboration.

The first app for the toolkit is an app called Zapd. It’s a great little app for iPhone or iPod Touch users to create quick and easy mobile websites. It’s similar to Instagram in functionality, but differs in that you can create your own fully functional mobile website!Sure, this is a great/fun app for just playing around and microblogging for the average person, but what educational value might it hold?

First to mind is that students can document the events of a class (labs, projects, etc.) or pose questions or thoughts around a particular topic. This can lead to other students providing input and begin the process of collaboration.

It can also serve as a student resource of sorts. Because the app allows you to create your mobile website using photos, text or links, students have the capacity to chronicle important websites (URLs), relevant research materials (books, magazines, etc.) or photos/diagrams/etc. In other words, it can become their own online notebook!

I’m sure there are other applications for this app, and as I play with the app more, I’ll come back and add to this. If you have any ideas for the app, PLEASE leave a comment. The more we share, the more we can grow!

iPhoneography vs. Photography

Let me just start by saying that the impetus for this blog entry was a post made on twitter that “hipstamatic is the Autotune of photography.” Now understanding that autotune is quite literally the worst thing to happen to music in the past 10 years (Roger Trautman will be excused from this conversation in its entirety,) I understand his point. But, can it be that taking the fun out of photography (in any fashion) is part of why so many people never really fully embrace it.

As you can probably already tell, I really like using my iPhone for photography. I also happen to be an avid photographer (via traditional means) As I explained at the Mobile2011 conference, it’s less cumbersome, more convenient, and potentially more fun that lugging around your DSLR and its accessories. By no means is an iPhone a replacement for a digital camera, but at what point do “serious photographers” take this TOO seriously.

Our students are more apt to have access to an iPhone or iPod touch and whatever photgraphy app strikes their fancy that a DSLR that the school probably can’t afford. Even then, sharing that amongst a class of 20+ students could be difficult.

At it’s best… iPhoneography can lead students (and teachers alike) into exploring their creativity and indulging their whims. Taking photos, learning concepts like geo-tagging and social networking via their photos are great for students of all ages. All of this without having to worry about damaging equipment or buying extra equipment and lugging it around for “the shot!”

Don’t get me wrong, your iPhone/Ipod Touch won’t replace your DSLR if you’re on the road to being a photographer. You’re not going to learn all of the intricate details about F-stops, apertures, ISO, white balance and the exposure triangle but you can learn (and practice) the concepts of good composition, the rule of thirds and gain a bit of understanding as to the role light really plays in photography.

Think about it, when most photographers got into photography it was becuase they saw something that inspired them. Maybe even something as simple as just wanting to have a picture with their favorite ballplayer or the car of their dreams. (The science of photography hadn’t entered the picture at that point. You were just thrilled at the resulting photograph).

iPhoneography can to be a very creative entry point into a career path, helping you to be more keenly aware of your surroundings and developing your own “vision.”

Students doing exercises like photographing the alphabet as they appear in nature, or taking that ONE photo that best exemplifies how they feel at any point in time, or as the basis for writing prompts and mathematical concepts (geometry comes to mind), or a better understanding of science via microscopes for your iPhone or iPod touch (not many DSLRs have these kind of attachements - especially for $5!!!)

I guess, all of this goes to say that iPhoneography probably won’t make you the next Ansel Adams or Gordon Parks, but it may just be the spark you need to get you on your way. And along that path, it might just be able to help all of us understand various concepts a little easier while having fun and being creative along the way - without breaking the bank to do it.

The App and the Lesson (Pano)…

The Pano application

Well, the holidays have come and gone. Everybody’s started on their New Year’s resolution and putting their favorite gifts through their paces (and sadly letting some others collect dust under the bed or at the back of the closet). Well, I have gotten a chance to put my fave so far to use. It’s the Owle Bubo ( Basically, this is a lightweight (think DirecTV remote control weight) device that acts as a housing for your iPhone 4. The rediculous benefit to this is that it allows your iPhone to act more camera-like.

Let me explain. if you’ve ever shot photos with you iPhone, you know that sometimes, depending on your photo app, holding steady for periods of time or lining up frames can prove to be a challenge. This device allows you to be a lot more stable. For me, instant gratification came in the form of being able to more easily align my frames when using an app like Pano, or holding more steady using Slow Shutter. I love it! It also has a space for a microphone that connect directly to your iPhone’s headphone jack. This is great for videos on the go.

The other great feature (at least for me), is that it comes with a 37mm wide-angle lens and a macro lens already attached. This is GREAT if you’re tired of taking steps back to get everything in a frame or not being able to get the detail you want for those small objects. I can see now that 2011 is going to be a great year for photography and iphoneography both!

The only two “drawbacks” are that you can’t effectively use the flash from you iPhone 4. The Bubo’s frame will cause the flash to reflect back into your image - the flash actually would fire through the lens on the Bubo :(
The other issue is that there is currently no support for the new iPod Touch. It’d be great to be able to have one for the Touch and leave it permanently affixed so that it’s just a grab and run. As it is, the Bubo will only support the iPhone 4 and a limited number of cases (no sliders) that would fit in the housing. I’m sure that an adaptation for the Touch is on the way. For now, I’ll just keep switching out cases.

All and all, the Owle Bubo is FANTASTIC. I thank my wife so much for getting me something she knew I’d love. I’ll post photos for comparison/contrast later. If you’re serious about your iphoneography, take a minute and check this out!

The App and the Lesson (TimeLapse)…

Timelapse application

Hey! Today I’m going to keep going with my reviews of camera-related apps for your iPhone and iPod Touch, and how they might be used educationally.

Today, I’d like to talk about an app called Time Lapse. This app allows you to set your phone or iPod totake pictures at specific intervals and for a specified period of time. For example, you could set the app to take one photo every 2 seconds for one hour, or one photo every 2 seconds for 500 exposures (or picutres).Something to think about: it takes 24 frames for 1 second of video and 1440 frames for just 1-minute of video.

From there, the photos are all loaded into the Photo library on your phone or iPod for you to download to your computer, or to sync through iPhoto or Aperture. You can create the video by using iMovie or Quicktime. Here are some examples of Time Lapse videos.

I think this is a great app to use on several fronts. It can help to reinforce concepts previously taught with regard to both photography and video (using iLife or other programs). It also acts as a motivator for students’ creativity. It can be used to create a form of digital flipbook, if you will.

Below, you will find an example of a mini-lesson that you can adapt or expand upon to suit your particular class needs:
App: Time Lapse
Tech Needs: Apple computer, iPhone, iPod Touch (with camera), iLife (iPhoto and/or iMovie)
Subject: Science – Animal Disection
Grade Level: High School
Activity:  Using the TimeLapse app, have the students setup the iPhone or iPod Touch so that they can get a complete picture of the working area. (This may work great in small groups, where your have multiple camera angles to choose from). Have the students to go about the process of disecting the animal (frog, worm, etc.) and documenting the process with TimeLapse. As a starting point, have the interval set to take every 10 seconds for 100 exposures (that’s roughly 16 minutes worth of pictures).  Once completed, import the pictures into iPhoto and arrange them in an appropriate order (at this point, for younger or less experienced students, you could simply make a slideshow out of the photos). Next, go into iMovie, import the photos and have the students to add their own soundtrack or narration, and there you have it!

This could be useful in helping teachers to create a video repository of lab experiments, step-by-step processes, best practices, etc. Heck, it might even be useful in helping students to create their own “claymation” (or action-photo) type of presentations. (Ask any of your students about Adult Swim on Cartoon Network - that will be a crude reference for them, AND you :D)

As always, give it a shot… and let me know what you think about it!