4 Tech Tools for Photo Documentation

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ImageDisp.aspx (2)I fell in love with photography the year we took our kids to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. My daughter was ten: not quite young enough to tuck into a stroller for an afternoon nap when she grew tired and not quite old enough to maintain the same level of enthusiasm her father had for the close and careful study of our nation’s history (which included reading every single word on every single placard in every single shop and museum we visited).

A camera saved our vacation.

“Start paying closer attention to what you see,” I suggested, showing her how to zoom in and out. “Take pictures of things we aren’t noticing. Show us what we’re missing.”

And she was hooked.

We returned home with vivid memories of our trip and like most vacationers, we found ourselves revisiting the highlights frequently in the years that followed. Laura captured the periphery of that experience though, and now, eight years later, her photos add incredible context to a story that nearly any family can tell.

“When I have a camera in my hand, I pay closer attention,” she tells me.

I feel the same way.

I’ve written about using photos to document learning before. The process is as efficient as it is powerful, particularly for those who keep a cell phone tucked into their pockets most days. Begin by thinking about the most critical moves learners might make in a given period of time, make sure your phone is charged and easily accessible, and start shooting your data.

When you’re finished, these four tools can help you curate, share, and analyze the evidence you gather. Be sure to invite company. Accessing other voices will deepen your perspective and help you develop insights you may not have otherwise. This enriches data analysis.

4 Tech Tools for Photo Documentation

1. VoiceThread does more than merely allow users to upload and share photos: it allows the creator and those who view the photo to record their thinking about it using audio, video, or text comments. The example below provides a bit of evidence captured during a recent writing conference at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio. I audio recorded my reflections. I’m wondering what you see here. What are the implications?

2. Picmonkey is a free online photo editing tool. I use it to clean up my photos and add text, filters, and other effects. I love the collage feature and find it very useful for curating collections of images. In this example, I’ve gathered evidence of writers using diverse tools and approaches. What do you notice?

PicMonkey Collage

3. Flickr allows users to upload, edit, organize, and share their photos. I like to create albums around themes of study. For instance: a couple of years ago, I began noticing a connection between making and writing. I keep Flickr albums full of evidence that helps inform my thinking and my work. These albums are easy to share, project, and amend. Something else: you can house a ton of images on Flickr, and they have no limitation on resolution.

4. Yogile enables users to create and comment on albums. Users are also able to embed albums on websites and in blog posts. This seems like a tiny add, but when it comes to analysis, this is a critical feature. Embedding albums into posts invites reflection. We blog around them, making our thinking transparent and inviting readers to contribute to it.

Are you passionate about photo documentation for learning? What habits, processes, and tools do you recommend? Expand my thinking here.

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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.

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