Thursday, November 02, 2006

Creating a Flickr of Interest

One of the reasons I like RSS is that it leads me to blogs and sites that I probably wouldn't have otherwise comes across.

Recently I stumbled across CogDogBlog, and a little piece called Small Presentations Loosely Joined. This in turn led me to look more closely at some of the things you can do with Flickr. And I'm excited! The Notes tool in Flickr is simply brilliant - dead easy to use but powerful. (Exactly what software ought to be.) Geotagging's also impressive, though I haven't thought of as many ways I could use it in a classroom as I have for notes on images, but it's early days. Combine this with blogging for a class, or better still, a wiki, and you have the potential to structure images and notes in a non-linear way that could create and sustain student interest.

Why non-linear? Because non-linear arrangements allow students to explore the material in whatever order appeals to them - if a particular item or subheading grabs their attention, they'll go to that first. As they grow their understanding of what they are exploring, the significance of the other sections (and thus the relevance) becomes (hopefully) more apparent. Do I think non-linear presentation is a good thing? You bet I do.

The Web, not surprisingly, is well set up for non-linear stuff, since it's fundamentally non-linear itself.

Collaboration is also essentially non-linear in its nature - how could it be otherwise? So imagine the following: a wiki page about a topic you're teaching that includes images that are links to Flickr images that have notes attached that contain links that in turn lead to other materials, etc. Not only that, but the students can also add to the wiki, add their own images from their own Flickr accounts with their own notes with links to more materials... I suppose you could call this "organic teaching".

(Make sure you click on the image of the breadfruit.)