Exploring Flickr and Podcasts in the Classroom (Week 6 – Educational Applications of Web 2.0 Tools)

flickr-in-educationLet me start off my saying Flickr is outdated, or at least so I thought. I have never used Flickr nor have I had any interest in using this medium. I grew up with the cliché stereotype that Flickr was for girls and photographers. Now that I am a videographer, I know that photographers rarely use this site and girls gravitate toward Tumblr more. After reading “Pedagogical Uses of Flickr” by Jennifer Chu and Erik Van Dusen in 2008, I still wasn’t sold. Everything they described in that article, Pinterest does better, at least in my opinion. Pinterest is more popular, more versatile, and provides more options to spark creativity. However, after looking into Flickr a little further, I discovered that Flickr now gives everyone a terabyte of free storage. That was enough to spark my interest. I signed up for Flickr using my already created Yahoo email, which was simple enough, and lone behold, 1 free terabyte of storage! I was impressed by the revamped structure and usability of Flickr. I still believe Pinterest is has far more versatile in the classroom, but I will admit that there could be potential for picture blogging and digital storytelling. Chu and Dusen acknowledge that Flickr “allows students to explore the world around them from the comfort of their own classroom and home through photographs.” Eh, I’m sure it does. But so does Pinterest. And now Instagram. And Twiiter, and Facebook, and so on. I understand this article was written in 2008 and back then, Flickr was a great medium for exploring the world through your computer. But due to the ridiculous growth of new social media platforms, that has since lost its touch. The last thing I would like to touch on from C&D Flickr’s article is in the closing statement. They quoted Will Richardson in saying, “using web applications such as Flickr in educational settings carries some risks and it is usually the teacher’s job to teach students what is safe to post in terms of safety and privacy.” I bring this up because I feel it relates to the conversation that was sparked from Joe’s blog 4, Networked Teacher, about privacy. There is a big risk that comes with using Web 2.0 tools in educational environments, especially for children. This is why it is important for the teacher to first explore these tools and become familiar with them first, before employing them in the classroom, as Richardson and Mancabelli point out in “Becoming a Networked Learner” chapter in their book Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education.

It’s not enough to employ these tools and technologies with our students; we have to employ them in our own learning practice. Otherwise, nothing changes. The vast majority of classroom uses of blogs, for example, are little more than taking what has already been done on paper for eons and publishing it in a different medium. In these cases, nothing has changed because the person at the front of the room (or in the front office) doesn’t understand that a blog is not simply about publishing; it’s about connecting. The great opportunity these tools provide is that they allow us to interact with others out there, but it’s an opportunity that’s meaningful only if we experience the full potential that exists in those interactions. (34)

This is crucial to understand. I fear that if we do not introduce Web 2.0 tools such as blogging to our students, we are limiting developing their personal learning networks and their education. But if we understand the tools, understand the risks, and give students the option to make these connections and interactions, it could be a game-changer.

Another game-changer that are not used even remotely enough as they should be, are podcasts. Most of my experiences with podcasts come from me subscribing to Happy Tree Friends and the Best of YouTube on my first iPod, not even close to being educational. But as you can see like any other Web 2.0 tool, podcasts are used for many more purposes than just education. I have had only one experience with podcasts in an educational environment, and that came last semester in Design Studio (LDT 550). We used Flipgrid to virtually introduce ourselves and to play around with a new edtech tool. You could argue that Flipgrid isn’t exactly a podcast, but I agree…and disagree. I would say it falls under the podcast umbrella, but just like other Web 2.0 tools, they are constantly evolving and transforming to fit the needs of this world. In an article posted in the British Journal of Educational Technology, “Educational usages of podcasting“,  Howard Harris and Sungmin Park say that podcasting “has become a means of communication and dialogue between teachers and students.” Flipgrid allowed us (the students of LDT 550) and the professor to asynchronously communicate via a short video clip. The professor created our “Flipgrid classroom” and posted a question. We then answered the question with a short video that anyone in the class could view at any time, and respond with another video. As Harris and Sungmin point out in their conclusion, “podcasting enables direct communication and interaction with students which go beyond the temporal and spatial limitations of conventional face-to-face education.” This is exactly what Flipgrid did for our classroom. LDT 550 was not an online course. We met once a week in a classroom; however, we used tools such as Flipgrid, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and even Second Life to push the boundaries of our classroom experience.

Want to create your own podcast? Check out my podcasting resources under my links page!


9 thoughts on “Exploring Flickr and Podcasts in the Classroom (Week 6 – Educational Applications of Web 2.0 Tools)

  1. @Phil, Flipgrip works on iPad and other tables, but not for iPhones yet. I believe they are currently working on a release for 2015 for iPhones. And thanks for the Danah Boyd article. I love her quote on how the public-private dimension has been reconfigured. “We’ve moved from a world that is ‘private-by-default, public-through-effort’ to one that is ‘public-by-default, private-with-effort.’ ” I can totally understand this as this is how I grew up. I guess you could say my generation and the generation currently in grade schools are growing up where social media always was. Before, social media was coming. In a world where there has always been social media, the lines between public and private are long from blurred. It’s as if they were thrown into a blender and mixed on high for the past 10 years.

    @Aaron, thanks! And I didn’t even realize you worked for World Campus Marketing. I’m an Education Program Assistant for CE at UP, soon to be merged with World Campus PPM. Good to know we’re co-workers! Good point about re-recording podcasts. I feel podcasts would be a great resource to engage World Campus alumni. Penn State could offer free educational “MOOC-ish”-style podcasts for professional development or just to stay up-to-date with PSU events.


  2. @Zach – Yes, you’re right, Flickr has been around for a while, and since their heyday (which Marissa Meyer, et al. is trying to bring back), there have been more contemporary, relevant players like Pinterest. Your post inspired me to do a Diigo quick search (since it’s geared more toward educators than a general Google search) and I found a post from Edudemic that lists about 20 different examples of education-oriented applications of Pinterest. So for anyone interested in exploring this further, that’d be a good first step. Pivoting briefly back to Flickr, one of the reasons it’s been a long-time favorite of educators is its link to Creative Commons where you can use, remix, adapt that others have shared For more details on this, check out https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ Another part of your post that resonated with me was the connection you made to the earlier conversation with Joe on the subject of privacy. This has definitely been a recurrent question and issue when people think about if and how to participate in social networks. I like how you use the passage from Richardson & Mancabelli to emphasize the importance of gaining familiarity with these tools since this can help lessen the anxiety or fear that we may have them about them, particularly with regard to issues such as privacy. Adding to this, I would highly encourage people to read another post by danah boyd, a widely respected researcher on teens and social media, who urges us to reconsider how private-public dimension has been reconfigured as a result of social media and participatory tech.

    Social media has prompted a radical shift. We’ve moved from a world that is “private-by-default, public-through-effort” to one that is “public-by-default, private-with-effort.” Most of our conversations in a face-to-face setting are too mundane for anyone to bother recording and publicizing. They stay relatively private simply because there’s no need or desire to make them public. Online, social technologies encourage broad sharing and thus, participating on sites like Facebook or Twitter means sharing to large audiences.

    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2011/11/20/debating-privacy-in-a-networked-world-for-the-wsj.html Researchers such as boyd, Richardson and others have suggested to me that it’s better for us to familiarize ourselves with these public-facing networks and tools rather than running away from them, since through becoming more familiar and adept with them, we assume control over our digital presence and identity (a type of “network literacy”).
    BTW: I’ve also added the danah boyd post to our 467 Diigo library
    Great post and I look forward to checking out Flipgrid!


  3. Nice mention of Pinterest, Zach!

    This is a channel that we are looking to employ with World Campus, as it has a style and community dynamic that doesn’t seem to come as natural for Flickr. One benefit of Flickr though, which was briefly touched upon in the podcasting article, would be as a marketing tool, as proper optimization of image descriptions can generate a lot of free traffic. Pinterest however, is making larger strides in both image and in search engine result pages, so I can’t wait to explore the potential that this platform can bring to the table. One of the biggest differences seems to be the ability to repin, and link to content – which ties into the greater potential for creativity. Flickr seems to work best when guidelines are established for learners, but Pinterest provides unique experience all its own.

    Excellent callback to Joe’s earlier post, and the text on becoming a networked learner. These are such important takeaways, and I don’t feel that they can be stressed enough.

    You bring up an interesting point with podcasts not being utilized enough as they should be, and I totally agree. I think one of the biggest challenges with this in education, is that any time the information changes, the podcast would ideally be need to be re-recorded, compared to a blog post or article can simply be updated or re-written. Then again, I suppose this comes with the territory.

    Also, Thank You for introducing me to Flipgrid. Despite working in the online realm, it never ceases to amaze how many quality tools are floating around, that I never even heard of. Your application of this outside the physical classroom, reminds me of Sam’s take on podcasts, where I was reminded of the flipped classroom approach (and I love how each make use of the word “flip”).

    Thanks Zach, and I’ll be sure to check out your podcasting resources as well!


  4. @Joe, as a videographer, I can say that we use Vimeo to display our finished videos, but we also have a blog which showcases each video and as well post them to our facebook page. I see this is quite common among other videographers and I see most professional photographers have their own professionally-created website/portfolio, and many of them create blog posts after a wedding or portrait session. And as to the Tumblr demographic geared toward young women, I could be very wrong. I may have overgeneralized and meant to say that young teenagers (both boys and girls) gravitate toward Tumblr over Flickr. This is just an assumption from what I have seen. I rarely see posts linked to Flickr but I see way more Tumblr links.

    @Sam, I know there is software that has classroom accounts already integrated. The teacher sets up each account for the student, of course after parental permission, and everything is done within a secure server with each student having a private account, identifiable by a student ID number of some sort.


  5. Zach,

    Several interesting ideas in your post. I wondered what site photographers and videographers most commonly use to show or organize their work? Do most create their own blogs? Also, why do you believe Tumblr is so popular with young women? I will have to take another look at Pinterest as a method for visual storytelling, since my familiarity with it revolves around curating things like recipes and consumer goods. At the time I investigated Pinterest, I wanted a tool that could collect compelling articles, but I quickly found other sites better suited to aggregation. You are certainly right that there are several fascinating options for visual storytelling since 2008.


  6. Zach,
    Great learning web to illustrate ways Flickr can be used! I often see and hear of Pinterest but didn’t realize it had so many features. Additionally, I notice through reading other blogs that your opinion is shared when it comes to preferring other applications over Flickr.

    This article also got me thinking about student privacy (and privacy in general) again. I wondered how much information is required for some of the accounts. A child’s complete last name, home address, phone number, etc. in my opinion should never be disclosed. It also made me wonder if some sort of “classroom accounts” will become available as technologies are being used more and more for learning through the Internet that will allow for school validation and connectivity matching.

    “I fear that if we do not introduce Web 2.0 tools such as blogging to our students, we are limiting developing their personal learning networks and their education. But if we understand the tools, understand the risks, and give students the option to make these connections and interactions, it could be a game-changer.” This definitely caught my attention and I agree it’s important we introduce informed opportunities utilizing our networks for advice.

    Also, I just noticed the awesome resource link at the bottom of your post!!!


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