Monday, April 2, 2018

Making use of photography as a medium of communication in the classroom

Photography can be used as a tool for teaching and evidencing learning in the classroom. It offers an easy, creative and exciting way to approach curriculums, and with the abundant availability of low-cost digital cameras in the market, the use of this tool has become more appealing and accessible. Also, the embedding of digital camera technology on mobile phones, tablets, computers and mp3 players has made the use of photographs as a teaching aid in the classroom easy and accessible.

It is important to note that before the commencement of the use of digital photography in the classroom as a resource tool for teaching, learning and assessment in any classroom setting, the consents of the learners, the learners' parents or guardians and the school management should be sought, or better still, the DATA protection law of the affected organisation should be respected by the teacher.

According to Moran and Tegano (2005), it is important to note that the reading of photographs by reviewers lead to the reading of meanings to what is being viewed. The reading of photographs is then made subjective and partial, which naturally leads to a range of interpretations. These interpretations are a positive part of photography as a means of teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom, because it is by sharing various meanings that new understandings are co-constructed. Furthermore, they suggest that the beauty of using photographs as a teaching aid is that it is a visual language and it shares important attributes with oral language, both in terms of communication and structure. It should be treated as a language but not as a truth or a definite fact, which in turn does not need any interpretation. As educators, there is the need to re-conceptualise photography as more than just a classroom record, but that it has the same subjective and interpretive potential like words, when it is read from the interpretive view, where it is imbued with meanings.

Teaching and learning

Photography as a teaching tool can be used in decision making by learners. For instance, while I was working with a group of adult learners with severe learning disabilities on a programme titled Independent living skills, the learners used photographs to make decisions on what they would like to cook during practical sessions on the programme. Furthermore, in order to decide what meal to make, the learners were shown different pictures of means of cooking like grill, oven, microwave and hob. Based on these pictures, the learners were able to identify and decide on the means of cooking which they would like to use in making their meal and this in turn was used to determine the menu options they could choose from.

On choosing the menu option, learners were made to choose different diets like fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, dairy products, as well as, dessert. Healthy food options were promoted amongst the learners and they were made to identify these options using photographs. Learners also made use of photographs to identify the different types of cooking utensils that they could make use of and these utensils were used during the cooking sessions.

The learners also made use of photographs in learning about the different sources where they could buy different items likefood, electronic gadgets, books and drinks. They matched pictures of the different products with some well-known local supermarkets. At times, they were made to match these pictures with dedicated sources of getting these products. For instance, getting vegetables from the green grocers and fish from the fish mongers.

The use of photography in these different ways gave the learners opportunities to prepare for their routine shopping experience, which was done in every other session, whenever there was going to be a cooking session. It served as a reminder to the learners on what they boughtwhile shopping for the session and what they cooked during the cooking session.

Formative assessment

Also, during the programme it was a common practice that in order to recap previous sessions and introduce a new lesson, pictures were used to assess the learners previous learning, and this was done on a regular basis. A simple approach that was used was to show the learners pictures of the present class activities and asking them prompting questions which would then generate responses that would be usedto form formative assessments of their learning.

Summative assessment

Finally, for this particular programme, the awarding body expected portfolios to be submitted for all the learners at the completion of the course work and there was the need to evidence the learning that happened during the course of the programme, hence, we made use of digital photography during the course of the programme in documenting the learners' participation during sessions,and this was very useful for evidence purpose. Furthermore, as a result of the inability of some of the learners to write, we made use of digital photography to evidence their work on the programme.

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