Flickering Flickr- Glowing Photosharing

The flickering candle doth glow in my heart, as a tainted darkness devours the hearth….if that quote excited you, this is not the post for you. I will not be discussing that kind of “flicker”, instead we will explore the absent ‘e’ Flickr, the photo sharing giant that dominates a social sphere of image exchange. Guy Merchant contributed his expertise in the collection DIY Media. His article, “Visual Networks: Learning and Photo sharing”, informs the reader of the possibilities that emerge from photo sharing on Web 2.0, especially while using the Flickr platform.

Merchant successfully enlightens his audience on how to utilize Flickr to its full potential. Highlighting features, Merchant emphasizes the social enrichment of the site. As social networking is further established and engrained in our societies, the author points out, “Decisions about levels of participation in photosharing communities are placed firmly in the hands of the user,” (pg 83). The decision to participate in, and expose particular aspects of one’s life has a natural implication of creeping into the world of education. The question beckons, however, how do we decided at what levels a student may participate in the social community.

As an educator, I am excited about incorporating technology to the full extent, yet I am weary about how to do so while maintaining student anonymity and productivity at the same time. I am coming to realize the imminent importance of students being able to showcase, share, and monitor their work online (The Web we Need to Give Students), yet I am still working through how to do this in a safe way. “Visual Networks: Learning and Photo sharing” notes that “children learned to use still images as stimulus for reflection and to engage in online discussion about environmental issues,” (pg 97) and showcases examples of students posting their own images on a teacher’s site. I am left pondering how to do this within a teacher’s site while allowing students to access their learning moving forward. There needs to be a balance that would be carefully monitored. Students need to have control over their online presence, yet while they are learning, they also need the guidance of an adult. Not to mention that all of the material on the web is not, to put it lightly, child friendly.

Pointedly, Merchant summarizes the photosharing world: “It is as if our albums of photographs can now be released from the shelves and cupboards of our domestic life and thrown open for public viewing,” (pg 100). There is power in social networking, adding layers to our interactions with others and the world around us. The learning potential cannot be measured. Using Flickr in the classroom, though, is a territory that I feel I need to carefully think through.

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