Digital Archiving & 21st Century Learning
The process is simple. First, I spread the newspaper, the math problems, the class notes, or whatever it is I need to shoot, out flat on the desk. I then carefully position the camera over the document and snap the picture. The image files are saved directly to an SD card. Right now I am using a 1 gigabyte SD card, but SD cards come in even larger sizes - up to 4 and 8 gigs. When I'm ready to transfer the images, I remove the card from the camera, pop the SD card in a card reader and share the media with the students. Most of the digital cameras on the market today shoot high quality video. A 1 gig SD card can hold up to 30 minutes of video! Students can very easily incorporate this video into their everyday assignments.
Over the last several weeks, I've been using my digital camera to scan/shoot excerpts of my student's math, English and science homework, as well as various headlines, articles, advertisements and illustrations featured in the Philadelphia Metro newspaper and the Philadelphia Sunday Inquirer. You could say I'm creating a 21st century microfiche archive of Philadelphia's print media and my student's academic careers. Most recently I've been photographing select articles and headlines from the Philadelphia Tribune and from Scoop USA newspaper. And even though these images are not flatbed scans, they still reproduce beautifully in color and in black and white. These images show exceptionally well on a computer monitor. These files are a perfect complement to my paperless classroom philosophy. I have not used my school's copy machine once this entire school year! In fact, I have not made photo copies of any work or assignments in over three years.
I hope one day all students (not just Media Literacy students) will see the power of digital archiving. I look forward to the day when JPEG files, MP3 files and MOV files are a rudimentary part of every student's scholastic experience and are as second nature as pens, pencil cases and book bags.
Eventually, I would like to turn this hands-on approach to Media Literacy over to those students whose vision of Computer Class lies outside of the keyboarding, writing and publishing realm that I primarily offer. At its most fundamental level digital archiving includes: photo scanning (as described above) converting LP records, audio cassettes and VHS tapes over to digital format and cataloging digital media. Digital archiving engages students. Students learn a useful skill through digital archiving and in the long run, they provide an invaluable service to their immediate and extended learning communities.
If we as educators are preparing students for jobs, careers and vocations that do not even exist yet, it is incumbent upon us to model new approaches to note taking, information gathering, hypertext writing and the many marvelous ways digital media can best be used in the 21st century classroom.