There’s been a bit of discussion recently as to how useful a tool Twitter can be for teachers, about a year ago everything was gushing with praise(I put together a quick guide here: Twitter for Educators ) but now there are a few more dissenting voices (See this post by Gavin Dudeney). As with all big discussions, some of each side of the argument is correct. While I’ve been using twitter less than I was a year or so ago (and updating this blog less…hmmm) I would like to highlight a project that has tapped into twitter (as well as another great Web2.0 name – Flickr).
Eltpics is such a simple concept that was just waiting for someone to do it well. It is a way that teachers can donate images to create a crowdsourced creative commons repository of images which can be freely shared and used for teaching and learning. It provides copyright-free images, arranged around a set of themes. It’s another example of how Twitter can be a powerful tool.
While it is easy to google images online, most are copyright and using them in lessons without permission is of dubious legality. This is obviously a concern when we are trying to develop responsible digital literacies in our learners. Eltpics allows us to demonstrate responsible use of the net to our learners. It was started by @VictoriaB52, @vickyloras and @cgoodey who just started tweeting pictures to each other on given themes, (read about how it started here: http://weblogg-ed.com/2011/crowdsourcing-a-lessonyour-thoughts/) it then got picked up by others and has snowballed into a bank of over 2000 images.
While Eltpics was started by English Language Teachers (hence the name) it could be useful for teachers of any subject. Images are arranged around a set of themes, with a new theme being added each week. To submit, contributors just send a tweet with a link to their image, the category that the image fits into and the tag #Eltpics. Most images have been posted via Flickr or Twitpic (both of which are free). The hashtag #Eltpics can also be used to suggest topics for future weeks. To get a feel for what’s going on, just search for Eltpics on either Twitter or Google Realtime. The images can then be found by searching for eltpics on Flickr, where they can be freely downloaded. For those who like to keep it online you can also embed the images in another site like a blog or VLE (The picture at the top of this page is embedded from Flickr).
- Creative Commons is a looser form of copyright where authors (or photographers) allow their work to be shared as long as certain specified conditions are met – in the case of Eltpics this means that the images cannot be used for commercial ends and that the original author should be credited. This covers the vast majority of situations where they may be used for teaching and learning.
- Crowdsourcing is a concept which lies behind most of what people term Web 2.0. It is the idea that a large number of people contributing a small amount of content can create useful resources; the most famous example of this would be Wikipedia.
There have probably been load of us who have taken pictures to use in a lesson and now got them lying around – this is a great way of putting all these images to use. I started to wonder how else crowdsourcing could be used, or is used in Education:
- Resource repositories – this is something that has been brought about by the internet – Websites such as TES Connect, Talent.ac.uk, Skills Workshop, etc. These are all driven by the content submitted to them by the users.
- Videoclips via Youtube etc. Nowadays it is fairly straightforward and cheap to put together a usable quality video – you are only limited by your own acting skills! A video version of ELTpics could work – though fewer people will have the right clips ‘just lying around’. I suppose Teacher Tube is trying to do that – I’ve never used it that much.
- Ideas – there is an interesting blog from @sandymillin, which is attempting to crowdsource lesson ideas etc. I suppose most blogs, if they are fairly active are trying to build reality out of crowdsourced ideas – on this blog, the comments on My Prezi vs Powerpoint post contribute lots of ideas.
What about you? Can you think of any way that crowd sourcing is being used in education? Or maybe there’s a way that it could/should be used – it’d be great to read your thoughts. Stop Press - I’ve just seen a new post from Gavin Dudeneythat carries on the discussion of how useful twitter is as a tool for getting ideas etc – A number of comments have mentioned how it seems more unmanageable than it had been…. Have to be honest – I think I’ve noticed the same thing – Does anyone have any ideas for getting the most out of twitter past a certain point?
Sticking on the topic, and back to eltpics, some of the blogs underneath are starting to suggest eltpics lesson plans, I’ve also added links to a few other sites that give suggestions for using images in class. Please add any ideas that you have to this page… And if you haven’t yet, try adding some pics to #eltpics – what are you waiting for?***hurries off to find ‘Urban’ pictures on his Flickr***