This is the first week of my online History of Photography class. I am gently guiding my students into our class which is peppered with emerging technologies including Google Apps, Ning, and VoiceThread. To get them started this week, I have a fun, simple activity that they engage in.
The activity is titled My Favorite Photograph and the objectives are:
- To help students get to know their peers on a personal level and start to form the early threads of community.
- To examine the subjective and personal nature of the meaning of a photographic image.
I created a presentation using Google Docs (click Create and select Presentation, create the presentation, change the share settings to “Anyone with a link” and “Can edit.”). A copy of the presentation is embedded below so you can take a close look at the precise instructions and sample I have provided them with. I used this activity last semester and had zero questions — so I’m pretty excited about it!
Here’s how it works.
- Students click on the link that takes them out to the Google Presentation (exactly like the one you see below but the one they see includes dozens of blank pages, each titled with a student’s name).
- They read the instructions on slide two and, if necessary, view the video embedded on slide three (which shows the steps for editing the presentation that are explained in text on slide two).
- They view the sample slide I created for them.
- Then they locate the slide with their name on it and upload their photograph and text (explaining why it’s their favorite photograph).
- I embed the completed Google Presentation in our Ning network (which is private and open only to my students).
- The students are instructed to review the entire presentation, reflect on the images and the justifications the students wrote for why they selected the image. This is really more empowering than it sounds, as students share some very compelling images including loved ones who are away at war, deceased family members, picturesque scenes of nature, artistic masterpieces, and beloved family pets. All in all, they’re learning how diverse “photography” can be.
- Then before the week is over, they write their first blog post which is an analysis of what they learned from participating in and viewing the collaborative presentation. They are asked to reflect on what they learned about the nature of photographic meaning, as well as to select one photograph from the presentation that stands out in their mind and explain why.
- As the blog posts come in, students read each others’ posts. Many see their contributions referenced and can read what their image means to their peer, some find a peer who references the same photo they selected, or see an entirely new perspective that they hadn’t considered.