Sunday, September 20, 2009

Photosharing using Picasa - Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning

Photo-sharing provides great opportunities for teaching and learning within the classroom for both students and teachers alike. I never realized that individuals could do a search on Flickr for photos that have been tagged, (until I went through the readings) which is quite a handy feature. Although I do not know if Picasa offers a similar feature, I can see how individuals can feel a sense of satisfaction and pride when they are doing a search on a website and their photo comes up in the results.
Picasa can be used in the classroom to make topics come alive. After interacting with it these past few days I see where students are able to upload web images, print pictures, create collages, send pictures directly to their blogs and even create movies. While younger students may not be all that interested in using the photo-shop features of tool, that feature may be an enticing one for older students or for teachers who are interested in further exploration of the tool. I saw the Geo-tag feature and instantly thought of how useful that would be in a Social Studies/History class where students could tag specific locations on Google Earth with the pictures that they have uploaded. Students who are writing stories on their summer vacation could make posters or a collage using Picasa. Picasa makes for an exciting tool where everyone in the classroom can be actively engaged in doing an activity. In my studies I have often come across the term ‘edutainment’; Wikipedia states that “Edutainment (also educational entertainment or entertainment-education) is a form of entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse.” I would certainly classify Picasa and other Web 2.0 tools as sources of edutainment.

As an educator I see two challenges which learners/teachers using this tool may face, and I have chosen to frame this as two questions: Who do I turn to? Who now has the rights?

Who do I turn to?
Although it was pretty easy for me to use the tool, the one hitch that I encountered was uploading the photo album to my blog. The first time I tried and previewed my blog, I noticed there were pictures, but they were not mine. So I thought to myself that it could not be that hard, since there was actually a photo album which was being displayed on my blog, the only problem was, it was not mine. Then I went at it again until I figured out that I needed to change a default in the settings from ‘keyword’ to ‘album’.
Now, in a classroom setting a student who was having that sort of difficulty could easily say this to their classmate and have their peer or even their teacher investigate what the problem was, but for a student who is at home or at the library by themselves encountering such a problem, who do they talk to? Taking it a little further, if I am a teacher who is exploring this technology, I would prefer to ask my peers or the IT person at my school than my students, but what if I am in a situation where only my students are available when I have that encounter? Or if I am home alone working at midnight and I am having difficulties, who do I turn to?

Who now has the rights?
If students have uploaded these photos that they created for public viewing/use, who now has the rights to these photos? Even though the photos may be tagged with who they belong to, the reality is that persons can download and edit these photos, then tag and upload them as their own. Photos can also be downloaded and used for advertising purposes while the original creators of the photos are in no way recognized or compensated for their ‘property’. Additionally, when different students have uploaded their photos and created a collage that they have posted on the web, who now owns it - the students who completed the assignment, the teacher who gave the assignment, or the school which employs the teacher?

This issue extends to much more than photo-sharing tools. In my mind, I think that online collaboration will at worst – silence the issue of property rights or at best - radically re-define property rights as we now know it.

Photosharing using Picasa - Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning

My personal learning was enhanced in using this tool and I think my open-mindedness or my ‘need’ of this kind of application made it easier for me to learn how to use Picasa.
I have had pictures of various events that needed to be uploaded but, it was never that urgent or sometimes in trying to avoid the whole sign up process, I preferred to zip my pictures and email them or use Hi5 (a social networking site) to upload them. While Picasa 3 is great and offers numerous functionalities, I seem to seek a ‘one-stop shop’. For example, when I am using Hi5, I can get most things done at one stop - I can talk to my friends/family online, see all their updates and post my updates and pictures online – that works well for me.
Strangely, now that I am reflecting on it, I think the more I am required to sign up or download something before using an application, I get so turned off from doing so. It’s not a hard task, but it just feels so overwhelming to always be ‘signing up’ for most of these sites, plus synchronizing my numerous usernames and passwords to ensure that I get in the next time that I log on.

Photosharing using Picasa - Reflections on the process of learning about the tool

I was eager to get started on using a photo-sharing tool, as for quite a while I had some photos that needed to be uploaded to the web. I chose Picasa, simply because I was more familiar with that name, as most of my friends who had uploaded their photos to the web had used this software. Additionally, I had uploaded some photos to one of my friend’s wedding album on Picasa, after she had sent me her username and password.
To begin the process I ‘googled’ the term and selected their homepage. I realized there was a ‘Download Picasa 3’ button and selected it and proceeded to download it. It took a fairly short time to be downloaded, but then after that was completed, something really ‘cool’ happened. The application organized all the pictures that were on my hard-drive, and I thought to myself ‘this is super’.
Before I was able to upload any photos to the web I was required to log in or create a username and password. Since I already had a Google account, I was able to just log in and I immediately posted a private album to the web. I didn’t have any difficulty in using this application, I just initially hated the idea of having to download an application, but then with the numerous functionalities that Picasa 3 offers, I’m pretty glad I did.