At the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference this year I caught the tail end of a workshop about using digital cameras in teaching, given by Brian Gross, Mike Kittel, and Brian Heeney (all from Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington, DE). They had some terrific ideas for using digital cameras in the classroom. Here were a few gems:
– Taking pictures of students on the first day of class
– Photo record of a field trip of lab experience.
– Pictures of models or maps that students create.
– Photo a day project.
– Five-Photo Stories.
One of my favorite tips of theirs was a new piece of hardward I’d never heard of called the Eye-Fi. This is an SD memory card (for your camera), companioned with a USB wireless device that allows you to automatically and wirelessly download photos from your camera to your computer. No more cables, no more fussing around. It means instant access to the photos on your camera. There’s a range of options – these guys recommnded the Eye-Fi Pro (which is $140) which functions without a router (the others, that are less expensive must traffic through a router). With this technology, you can use the pictures you take in class and instantly have them up there on the screen – “Look at Suzy’s concept map!” or “Everyone look up here to see what group 3 figured out.”
As for digital camera recomendations – Brian says it’s hard to go wrong these days. You can get a perfectly good camera for $99. If your camera is capable of taking photos at 8 or 10 megapixel resolution, they recommend reducing the resolution to 3-4 mega pixels as that is perfectly sufficient for most classroom or web use and the photos download much faster. If you are buying a bunch of cameras for student use, they do recommend getting cameras that take double A batteries, so that it’s easy to replace them (without having to recharge). Tiger Direct is a web site they recommend for good deals on electronic equipment. They also provided the link to their wiki site that is chock-full of helpful teaching resources related to the use of digital cameras in the classroom. Good stuff.