5 Smart Ways To Use Digital Images In The Classroom

Why You Should Consider Using Digital Images In The Classroom

contributed by Mike Acedo

It is well known, that the 21st-century student is constantly bombarded with digital imagery. Whether it is from television, social media, advertisers, or smartphones, the relentless visual stimulation that students face has some declaring it as detrimental to student development.

It is argued that with so much visual stimulation, it had become harder for students to keep their focus, hampering concentration, and hindering their ability to process information. Though this can be debated, it imperative that teachers take the necessary steps to combat these potential negative effects. This has forced teachers to recognize the importance of imagery and its use in their classrooms.

It is important for students to be able to use images as a tool to advance their own knowledge and achievement. In this capacity, students are able to think abstractly about complex ideas and information, transforming the curriculum into more of a narrative they can absorb through creative imagery. There are several ways teachers can use images to extract the inherent creativity from their students, while simultaneously promoting deep thought, and honing their attention to detail.

How Can Students Use Digital Images In School And For Learning?

  1. Visual Biographies

In many aspects of education, a student’s true potential shines through when the subject is personal to them.

Teachers can tap into this in a variety of ways; such as having students create visual biographies that represent their lives. Students can find powerful images online or through social media, and compile them in a slide show that highlights their past, present, and future.

These images can symbolize important events, people, or places in their lives. They can also be representative of each student’s personal goals, interests, and future aspirations. This will not only tap into the student’s creative nature, but will also encourage them to think deeply about which images truly embody them, and their aspirations.

Slideshows can subsequently be presented to the class, giving classmates the opportunity to peek into the personalities of their peers. Students can comment on the images, draw similarities to their own lives, and build stronger class camaraderie.

This can be a fun and effective way for students to use imagery as a tool to express themselves, foster creativity, and learn about their classmates.

  1. Photo Essays

Visual biographies are not the only way to utilize images in the classroom. Pictures can also be used as a way to represent student understanding of the material. Photo essays are an excellent way to accomplish this and can be applied to any subject.

To achieve this, students can work in teams or independently compile digital images that pertain to a relevant topic. Captions can be added to each photo, explaining the photo’s relation to the subject and giving insight into the student’s thought process.

This can be a little tricky, as student interpretations are relative to their own personal understanding. Therefore, it is important for educators to use discretion when implementing this tactic, and make sure students make a clear relation between the image and the subject matter.

A prime example can be gathering images of a historical event and comparing them to images of similar current events. Students can then draw similarities between past and present issues, and draw conclusions on how those issues can be prevented.

Another example is inviting students to utilize their phone cameras to document the step-by-step process of a science experiment. This will not only allow students to use the technology that is integrated in their lives but also enable them to use it as a way that enhances their learning experience.

Teachers and students can get creative in how they wish to incorporate images. However, using images as one of many ways to measure understanding not only taps into student ingenuity and resourcefulness, but also emphasizes quality in all facets of student work.

  1. Visual Storytelling

Through incorporating digital images in the class, teachers can encourage students to create narratives for particular pictures. Many students have taken exams or had homework assignments that display an image, and ask the students to write a story describing what is happening. This can be an excellent exercise that not only stimulates student imagination, but tests their focus and attention to detail.

Teachers may find a photograph online, display it in class, and invite students to create a narrative for the image. Ask students to identify certain details of the image, such as the setting, the characters, and what is happening. Have students discern the emotions of the characters based on their body language. Are they happy, concerned, upset? Why? Is there a conflict? What can be a resolution?

Students can brainstorm as a class or in groups, feeding off each other’s inductive reasoning. Afterward, students can be instructed write a short reflection in a learning journal based on what they see in the image. This can be a useful exercise that empowers students to use inductive reasoning to tell a story. Each story can be different based on individual interpretation, which empowers students to freely exercise their originality and inductive skills without fearing failure or ridicule.

  1. Photojournalism

In today’s society, it is vital that students are aware of what is happening in the world. Therefore, involving students in photojournalism can present a number of benefits, including an appreciation for the education you provide them!

In class, educators can use photos to inform students of current events and also invite them to do their own research on the images. By projecting an image in the class, teachers can provoke deep thought from students as they ponder the issues the image represents.

Teachers can encourage students to ask questions, write a reflection, or procure their own photos or political cartoons to present to the class as a weekly assignment.

Photojournalism can be a very powerful way to engage students in deep and complex issues. It is also an effective way for students to communicate their own opinions and encourages them to choose images that draw attention to issues that are important to them.

  1. Vocabulary Building

In any language arts course, images can be a useful tool for students to build on vocabulary and word association. By presenting a carefully selected group of images, teachers provide a tangible example of the words they are trying to teach. Furthermore, it makes it easier for student to remember new words, as they are automatically associated with the visual representation.

Educators can also experiment in exercises that allow students to draw vocabulary from images. One can present a selected group of images to the class, and allow students to work together to extract as many adjectives as they can out of the image.

This is a simple, but effective way to get kids thinking creatively about what they see in images. Educators may even transform the exercise into a game, assigning points to students who come up with the most creative descriptions or analogies.

Also consider using digital images as writing prompts, discussion prompts, and artifacts of the process (or products) of project-based learning.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Digital Images In The Classroom?

In today’s classrooms, teachers need every resource at their disposal to attract the attention of their students.

As students are being constantly visually stimulated, the use of imagery in the classroom can be a very useful and effective tool. Images allow students to tap into their inherent creative nature while promoting attention to detail, critical thinking, and resourcefulness. It also allows students to process deep and complex issues in the abstract, and mentally stimulating ways.

It makes sense that every classroom incorporates compelling digital images in some way, as it is a very efficient method in advancing student learning and achievement.

Smart Ways To Use Digital Images In The Classroom; image attribution flickr user ap and woodleywonderworks