At the Online Connectivism Conference that I have been kind of monitoring this week, I did catch the presentation by Diana Oblinger. In her address, she talked about many things but one thing hit me that I want to comment on here. She stated that the younger generation is very much more visual orientated that we are, their instructors. She said that we, the older generation, are not very good at using visuals to teach, but we need to learn how to use visuals more.
This is consistent with some of the work we have been done to encourage instructors to improve their classroom presentations. Typically we use PowerPoint but the slides have more text on them instead of visuals. But, good visuals are hard to come by and you don't have permission to use most of the really good ones. So what is the solution?
How about this, buy yourself a digital camera. You can pick up one for less than $100 right now. Here is one on the FutureShop website that would work great. Click here to see it. These cameras are 5 Megapixels, which is all you need. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and you can use it to create your own visuals for your teaching, whether you are in class or online. Carry it around and take lots of pictures of things that will have you illustrate your presentations. Take pictures and short video clips of examples of the concepts you are teaching. These cameras will let you take hundreds of photos on inexpensive memory cards. Pro photographers take over 100 photos in order to get a really valuable one.
You can then use Picasa, a free photo organizer and touch-up tool. It will help you transfer your photos from the camera to your computer where you can sift out the best ones. It is a free download from Google and it is better than the software that comes with the camera.
Click here to download Picasa.
I have also just discover a new free online tool for editing and organizing your photos. It is call Picnik and you can access it at http://www.picnik.com/
You can also download Wink, a free tool for making narrated slide shows in flash movies that you can post on the Web.
These are the new tools of the teaching craft. Just like you need to buy yourself a computer, a headset with microphone and now a digital camera. Don't balk at not getting your school to pay for it, you need these tools and you need to master them, or get left behind.