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November 03, 2006

Talking About Images in Flickr

Our grad student Ken Albers recently alerted me to a new feature in Flickr that allows registered users to mark up images in the Flickr database with commentary.

At least one instructor is already using this feature to teach. Flckr user beth_h. has an example of a group of students analyzing a painting. What you can see as you scroll over the image is beth_h.'s comments/questions, and the students' responses on the image. The instructor's comments appear in yellow, the students' in green. And below the image the text commentary feature of Flickr allows the students and their professor to carry on a conversation about the image. This latter feature is nothing new. What is different is being able to mark up the image on the image itself.

The other thing that is different is that this is all done with a free service and requires no technical skills, no WebCT/Blackboard training sessions, and virtually no time. To test just how easy this might or might not be, I uploaded a picture we took last week at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Library. The UMBC Special Collections includes several hundred artifacts from Solidarity's election campaign in 1989. The one I uploaded into Flickr is a small campaign poster that tells voters--without words--what was at stake. It took me longer to remember which folder I'd stored the image in on my laptop than it did to load it into Flickr (including creating an account) and then mark it up. Now that's easy.

I plan to give this a try in my upcoming study tour of Prague/Vienna/Budapest just to see what kind of discussion it will generate, both while we are in Europe and after we return. [NB: I had nothing to do with the incredibly bad website of our Center for Global Education!]

Posted by mills at November 3, 2006 06:33 AM