There are lots of people that work in education that sadly think that Wikipedia is the work of the devil, and think that it will undermine academia as we know it, and should be banned at all costs. There are others that think Wikipedia is a wonderful source of information, and there is no point of looking elsewhere for facts.
Regardless of your viewpoint on Wikipedia (which hopefully is somewhere between the 2 extremes above), one aspect of it that is very useful, is that there is lots of high quality media (mainly images, but also videos and audio) available on Wikimedia – that can be easily (and legally) embedded into a VLE like Moodle or Blackboard.
As organisations scramble to set up online courses, the reality is that most people won’t have the time or money to generate their own high quality media – and I don’t think we need to, seeing as there is so much media out there that we can easily and legally use – the key is the academic structuring of this information and the asking of challenging and stimulating questions around this available media and information. e.g. the image below identifying a muscle in the human body – I couldn’t draw this myself, and it would be a waste of my time trying to.
The video below shows how easy it is to find an image on wikimedia and embed it into a VLE like Moodle or Blackboard
Compfight is an excellent little website, for locating images on flickr that have been released under a creative commons licence which means that we can use the images in resources etc, without having to gain explicit permission from the image owner.
Having located and used an image this way, I then use another service called ImageStamper which then records which images I have used and when, and most importantly what the licence agreement was at the time (in case someone on Flickr changes their licence agreement at a later date).
I use images a lot in my work – most of my PowerPoint presentations, are very image based, and the place that I use most to locate these images is a site called Xpert. This site has been created by the University of Nottingham, to compliment the Xerte tool that they have developed for creating content, but I use it mainly for finding images for my PowerPoint and Word based resources. The thing that I really like is the way that under each image that I locate on Xpert, it adds a black bar containing the licence information and the reference, showing that I have the right to use this image and it references it correctly, and the black bar will always follow the image around.
A few months back I ran a training session for some primary school teachers, on how to use PowerPoint within primary education, and they were very impressed with most of the ideas and techniques that I worked through with them, but the one that captured the imagination of even the slightly IT wary teacher was showing how we can quickly bring lots of photos from a camera into a PowerPoint presentation.
This is a very simple technique, but one that many people haven’t discovered yet.
A video showing how to do this, and how to compress the images in one go can be found here
A lot of people in education are using the various forms of cheap, easy to use cameras – with the arguement that the fact that they are so easy to use (just press big red button to record/stop) is one less barrier to technology. But I personally haven’t got on with them, their inability to zoom, the low quality of the output, the poor sound etc I think outweighs their ease of use, and I am of the opinion that buying a standard compact camera that does photographs and video is a viable option. Some will argue that as these don’t have the built in USB connector you have to mess around with cables – but the simple solution to that is to permanently attach the cable to the camera, using a cable tie and adhesive cable tie mount.
We have purchased one such camera (£40) for our kids (aged 5,3,and 1) and the oldest 2 have worked out how to turn the camera on, how to take photos, how to zoom, how to view what they have done, and how to switch the camera off – so if a 3 year old can manage these things, then I think even the most technophobic adults could manage this.
Last night I was helping my 5 year old son with his homework, and they were doing 2D and 3D shapes. I had been asked to go around the home with him seeing how many shapes he could find, name and then draw. We tried this at first but he wasn’t very excited by this, so I suggested that he went round with the camera and photographed different shapes. This was much more exciting – he knows where the camera is kept, so fetched it himself, set it up, and took the photos without any input from me. I then uploaded them into PowerPoint, resized and printed to stick into his book (where he could then name and draw). Below is the output of this exercise.
There are so many examples in education of how we can quickly use cameras for an exercise, and with most learners in FE and HE owning phones with cameras built in, we don’t even need to provide them with the cameras.