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Digital Imaging in the School Curriculum

Digital cameras are gaining ground in the consumer electronics market and becoming ubiquitous in the homes of school children. Digital images have also become easily accessible via the Internet. Center faculty members and graduate students are exploring how images can be used to faciliate teaching and learning in the content areas.

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Teaching With Digital Images:

Edited by
Glen L. Bull and Lynn Bell


Mathematics Education

Digital images can be employed for mathematical analyses, geometrical transformations, and providing realistic contexts for problem solving. Digital images offer new avenues for classroom teachers to engage students in challenging and motivating mathematical problem generation and resolution.

Social Studies Education

The purpose of history is to teach students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the role of citizen in a multicultural, participatory democracy. Among these desired skills are historical thinking skills, which encompass the “doing of history,” including chronological thinking, historical comprehension, historical analysis and interpretation, historical research, historical issues-analysis, and historical decision-making. Digital images hold the potential to facilitate these skills and understandings.

Digital images can promote inquiry in social studies. Increasingly the important events of our times are captured through digital images. The historyvalley of the shadow teacher has a responsibility to ensure that future citizens can thoughtfully interpret visual images, including facilitating inquiry regarding context, motives, circumstances, and whether digital manipulation was involved.

Images constitute an important component of primary digital sources. Until the advent of the Internet, interpretation and inquiry in history was mediated through the lens of the textbook. Vast collections of primary sources have now been compiled in digital archives at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other scholarly institutes. Digital archives allow the student to directly access source materials used in social studies.

Digital images provide important connections to community. Throughout the 20th century, students have played a significant role in collection of community histories in conjunction with social studies projects.

English Education

Working with digital images in English language arts classes can allow students and teachers to envision, understand, and communicate meaning.

First, digital images can help readers envision text. For example, students can use video editing tools to develop sequences of images organized along digital timelines.

Just as digital images provide an entry point for readers, they can also provide an entry point for beginning writers as they also create their own texts – narrative, persuasive, and expository.

Third, digital images allow students to visually communicate meaning. Ultimately English class is not about printed characters on a sheet of paper, but about communication. Until now, still and moving images have constituted a “read-only” medium. Digital video editing tools allow us to read and write in this format. The emergence of ubiquitous digital image editing technologies has made it possible to incorporate new and powerful communication tools into language arts classes.

Science Education

Digital still and video cameras provide science students with an innovative data collection tool. They can acquire a digital flower or leaf collection, record digital video of the behavior of a Painted Lady butterfly, or capture the formation of salt crystals with time-lapse digital photography.

With a digital camera attached to a microscope or telescope, students can capture images of objects too small or too far away to see with the naked eye.

Teachers at every grade level have long known that students can better understand concepts when they can see them. Affordable digital imaging technologies places the control of creating and acquiring images in the hands of students.

View a time-lapse video of a sprouting pea.


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Last modified on July 22, 2008