It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of chasing after the perfect app. Even when I was in the classroom, I would often give my students a few websites that I felt were appropriate, and then have them curate and identify the games, activities, and resources they found to be the most valuable. Sure, I have some favorite apps, but since I haven’t been in the classroom for 4 and a half years now, I realize that what I find valuable is likely quite different than what classroom teachers currently find valuable (and more importantly, practical). Which is why when I work with teachers looking for ideas for their iPads, or any tablet for that matter, I tend to focus on applications of one of the most powerful apps built into most mobile devices these days; the camera app!
I know what some of you are thinking…”oh please, Ben!” Give me a break. There is nothing innovative, creative, or special about using digital cameras for learning. And yet, there are still many school districts that actively block access to the cameras on devices entirely (I would mention names, but I have colleagues at schools where this is the case). Couple that reality with the growing purchases of Chromebooks and other low cost computing devices in the name of “test readiness”, and you aren’t exactly priming teachers to immerse themselves for a visual paradigm of learning.
So when I decided to present for this year’s K-12 Online Conference, I went ahead and took one of my recent workshops, paired it down a bit, and turned it into a primer for getting started with visual learning activities using any tablet’s camera. I even included some rationale thanks to the Common Core Standards, in case anyone is interested in showing parents the positive side of the CCSS. And did I mention it’s just plain fun?! I’ve enjoyed leading a couple of workshops around this, as it gets participants up out of their seats, taking pictures and video around conference centers, and then coming back to share their work and get excited about exploring one another’s ideas.
Per the K-12 Online Conference organizer’s request, I couldn’t post any video of my own about the presentation until I handed it off to them, so below is the video I crafted!
Want to see some of the great visual activities that my workshop attendees created this summer? Click HERE for a growing list of visual ways for students to present learning across content areas using just the camera app. And here’s a shout out to the entire Games & Gammification strand presentations, in case you’re curious about more playful learning experiences in the classroom.