The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Digital Storytelling Day 4-Flickr Searching

Today was the first day kids were on machines locating imagery for their digital stories. I was interested to see how many would use Flickr as the initial resource for imagery-all 26 students did. Almost all jumped to the Flickr resources from the digital storytelling platform we created in Blackboard. Here are some intial observations of the use of Flickr:

1. The use of tags to locate imagery was new to kids (we had worked with them). They're used to using multiple search terms in Google, however they adapted quickly.

2. They used multiple paths for searching within Flickr. Some used the Creative Commons search page exclusively, and some used the multiple tag search page, together with the search within the title and descriptions. Some ignored the Creative Commons Search page and used the search on the introductory Flickr page.

3. About 50% of the kids found something that they considered inappropriate, although no one showed me when they found it nor did it become a distraction for any student or group of students (they are seniors). When I pushed them a little farther, they said it was just stuff they see on TV but that they shouldn't see in school. Overall, I was concerned, they weren't, which makes sense because I'm and educator and they're kids. A single period with 25 kids searching multiple topics was enough to convince me that we need to be careful with younger kids and probably create pre-selected image pools for them. I had used Flickr with adult groups, and had not really seen anything inappropriate as the result of their searching, although I certainly knew it was there.

4. When using the Flickr search available on the first page of Flickr, as well as with the multiple tag search, the kids quickly found that the search could be sorted by Most Recent and by Most Interesting. To see the difference, here is the most recent search return and the most interesting search for the tag barns. There is quite a difference in the quality of the photos....

5. Some used the Flickr tag cloud to search. Others used the Flickr Colr Pickr, although neither tool would exclusively return appropriate Creative Commons licensed photos. They just sifted through them.

6. Most had about a half of the images they needed in a single period (50 minutes). Many of the images I saw as I answered questions were very good choices and quite dramatic photography that will support their writing.

So, all in all, a productive start watching the kids work through a new resource and, in the process, we learned a great deal about the student use of Flickr.


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