Flickr in the Classroom

July 4, 2009

Is there a place for Flickr in the classroom?  Would I use it?  I think so.  As you may have read in my previous blog I can come up with at least one idea for Flickr in the classroom.  In fact, I think there is probably less ways to use it in the science classroom compared to the practical uses it serves in the language arts or art classroom.

See this blog written just a few days ago on the same topic.

Through PD that I have seen at teachers’ convention and a presentation done in a class taken through the MES program, both by Kim Peacock that Flickr has certain capabilities that lend itself to being used in the language arts classroom.

For example, there is a 6 word story group on Flickr.  Here is one thread based on a picture that was posted.

In art class, students could use Flickr as a way to view contemporary art.  By searching “grafitti”, over 22000 photos came up. [be aware a graphic photo on the first page – I have only looked at the first two pages].

UPDATE: I realized I spelled graffiti incorrectly the first time.  When spelled properly, the number of results increases to 2,402,989 and there is no nudity on the first page.

As a teacher, it would be more productive to look through the photos and have students link directly to the photo(s) and not the full search results.

Students could select a picture and comment based on their previous learning and art knowledge (of which I have none).  They could then create their own graffiti (not on the streets, school, or bathroom stall).

I did a quick google search of “flickr in the classroom” and here are a few of the resources that came up:

I must admit though, that I do have a concern with “opening” sites such as Flickr to my students.  While I do see the merit in using a site such as Flickr, what about the risks?  Am I opening up my students to seeing content that is not appropriate?  What are the solutions to this problem?

There are definitely risks associated with Flickr.  As I have pointed out, a simple search of graffiti can pull up graphic images.  Certainly the image wasn’t anything that wouldn’t be seen in an art book about Renaissance art, but perhaps not what you would want a junior high student (by this I mean junior high boy) seeing.  Also, there is cause for the language that may be present.  Perhaps students will come across posts / comments that have a certain four letter friend attached.  Again, this may not be the worst thing in the world, but certainly not appropriate for a school setting.  Personally, I believe that the way to combat this is to be honest with students, parents, and the administration.  Outline exactly what your goals will be on the site, outline the risks, and outline the procedures that are to be followed while online.  If parents and the students know what the students are supposed to do and know the consequences of not following the rules, there is less chance of the phone call from mom or dad to the teacher looking for an explanation as to why Johnny saw a picture of a woman’s breasts in language arts.

Modern media literacy should be part of the learning that takes place before students get online.  There are many risks when delving into an online learning environment and students need to be aware of them.  Here is a site that has tips and hints for parents, students, and educators about online risks.

There is a place for Flickr in the classroom, but it is not without its risks.  Educators need to be aware of the risks and share strategies for safe browsing with students and parents.  Would I use Flickr in my classroom?  You bet I would.


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