Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

What Schools Can Learn From the World of Photography

An article by  on caught my attention, and the idea delivered resonates exactly with my thoughts on digital learning. I have related “how digital learning (for example digital textbooks) could change how we learn” with “how digital photography have changed the world of photography” in my mind for a long time. George Couros, a principal and education thought leader, gave an excellent wrap-up from different points of view for this perspective. Here is the beginning:

I have taken a big interest in visuals and photography as I have found some amazing photo sites on the web, as well as simply enjoying using apps such as Instagram (along with a large chunk of the world).  Recently, I was struck by this quote:

“(On digital photography) No wasted film, slides, or prints. And we are aware of this relationship between mistakes and consequences when we pick up the camera—so we click away, taking many more photos digitally than we would have in a world of costly film. Because we know failure is free, we take chances, and in that effort we often get that one amazing picture that we wouldn’t have if we were paying for all the mistakes.” — John Hamm

When I thought about it, I wondered about the photography industry and how it has probably changed a great deal in the last ten years because of the evolution of digital photography.  As I am admittedly no more of an expert on the field of photography as I am a strong photographer, I still wanted to share some observations and thoughts on what we can learn from photography and how it applies to what we do in school.  The field of photography has grown and schools could probably learn a few lessons from the field.

Read the full post here.

The technology is better and cheaper which changes everything. Not only almost everyone can carry a camera in pocket, also different kind of tools to enhance photo are cheaper and easier to use. It brings participation and engagement in a meaningful way. Both are critical for the better learning. Now we have cheap or free tools for learning by doing in different ways fitting to different interests in writing, gaming, making games, making videos, and of course, creating visual images. The authentic learning comes from hands-on experience.

Because the opportunity of trials is cheap if there are digital technologies in place. (from the above quote:) Because we know failure is free, we take chances, and in that effort we often get that one amazing picture(result) that we wouldn’t have if we were paying for all the mistakes. It’s true for digital learning too. From a professional photographer, we also find the similar process :

Before I photographing a subject, I try to imagine how I would like it to appear and descript the concept within. I will experiment and try to capture the object/subject from multiple perspectives and with different lighting conditions. I will often return to a subject several times until I am satisfied with the result. ” — KT Shiue

Communities can make us better and learn from each other. Either it’s from the insiders or outsiders, information, knowledge, or best practices can be shared easily without any cost (again), and ideas can be cross-pollinated between people from different interests or expertise. This is powerful because we don’t need to re-invent the wheels on everything. Peer learning, remixing ideas and connecting dots let us learn more efficiently. Through open licensing like Creative Commons, remixing also becomes an active way of  learning by re-building knowledge. On the other hand, the connection with the world globally or even with real experts is possible.

Digital is the change agent and give all of us the new learning opportunities. The fundamental ideas enable the change are constructivism and connectivism – which are possibility the most important elements for learning in this century. The ending of George’s article will pounder your thought :

“With all of the options out there for education, we have to really think about the way schools do “business” or we are going to be “out of business”.  Just look at the music industry and how much they lost but they were only dealing with money.  We can’t afford to lose our kids.”

If the education wants to become relevant to learners, it must enable them to find the meaning of learning to their personal lives. It is the process of finding answer that matters for long term. I love this quote from a professional photographer, again :

“I often try to find the communication, connections and relationships between subjects and object; my goal in photographing a subject is to capture both the nature of the subject and my personal point of view. I am not trying to solely document the scene, but rather I am trying to find the answers.”KT Shiue


by KT Shiue, all rights reserved


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4 Responses »


  1. What Schools Can Learn From the World of Photography | Voices in the Feminine |
  2. #recomiendo What Schools Can Learn From the World of Photography #diseño #educación #fotografía | Pedalogica: educación y TIC |
  3. What Schools Can Learn From the World of Photography | Social media and education |
  4. What Schools Can Learn From the World of Photography | Web Technologies for Learning |

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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