Digital cameras aren't a novelty anymore, and are part of most schools' technology kits. But there's a lot more that your pupils can do with their photos than simply insert them into their stories.
The first thing to do is create an account in Flickr, the online storage place for photos (www.flickr.com). This takes just a few minutes and costs nothing, although you can pay a premium subscription for more storage.
Once you've done that, you can organise your photos into sets, tag them so that you and others can find them again, and even find people who have taken similar pictures. For example, if you tag your pictures with the word "London", then anyone looking for pictures of London will find yours, and you can find theirs in the same way. Indeed, coming up with the right name for a set or tag is a useful skill in itself, because you must think of words that other people might use to find photos of a particular kind.
Various free applications have been created that work seamlessly with Flickr. Putting pictures on to a website is labour intensive and time-consuming and never-ending because you have to keep doing it any time you want to show new photos.
Pictobrowse allows you to insert a snippet of code into your website, and then never have to touch it ever again. Impossible? Not at all. All you need is a program that will automatically keep looking where you tell it to look for your photos. It's worth the effort: next time you add a picture to your Flickr account with the same tag, or in the same set, it will be displayed on your website automatically.
Again, get the children involved: which are the best pictures to illustrate the work or the place? Of course, you must make sure that children cannot be identified, so you need to be careful here, and obtain parents' permission if necessary. (See www.db798. compictobrowser).
One of the big things happening at the moment is geotagging. What that means is using a code with your photos that refers to where the picture was taken. It's not programming code a postcode, or a location on a map, will usually work.
There is a very nice tool that lets you add geotagging data to a photo so that you can view where it was taken on a Google map. Going on a field trip? Get the kids to record not just the surroundings, but where they are. Or maybe you're doing a local survey in the town centre? Make the pictorial record come alive by displaying it on a map. Installing it takes seconds, and the tool and the instructions are downloadable for free at http:labs.sumaato.nettoolsflickr_geocode_bookmarklet.
The best way of tagging the data is to use the postcode. Once you've set the location, a pink square appears on the map, and passing your mouse over it reveals the picture.
"The world in pictures" lets you find photos based on geotagging data. You enter the name of a place or its postcode. It works well, but it can be slow, so make sure you have something else for the class to do while it's working
Terry Freedman is a technology consultant and chairman of the executive committee of NAACE, the subject association for ICT
SOME OTHER USEFUL FLICKR APPLICATIONS
Create Sudoku puzzles using pictures rather than numbers: www.beckysweb.co.uksudoku flickrsudoku.asp.
A version of Pictionary: http:imagine-it.orgflickrflicktionary.htm.
An alphabet primer: www.rapidmonkey.com alphalearnr.
A jigsaw puzzle maker which uses photos on the hard drive rather than online: www.flashpuzzlezone.com.