Take a fresh, digital look at life

14th September 2001 at 01:00
It's great when you're a child and you get new toys. Hours of fun await you. As you get older, it doesn't need to be any different. The toys just get more expensive and more impressive.

Teachers get new toys frequently, with luck. Electronic gadgets such as scanners, digital cameras and digital video cameras are becoming their playthings. They just have to make these toys work for them, using them to raise motivation, provide meaningful learning experiences and enhance achievement. Bear these points in mind and you will be able to create wonderful digital pictures.

* Scanners often come with software that you can configure yourself to manipulate what you scan. Yo* can enlarge, shrink and stretch pictures, or turn colour graphics into black and white. Slightly more advanced software can convert scanned text into editable text files. This could save lots of time when you're making a worksheet. Some software can create presentation slideshows of your pictures or put them in a form to e-mail.

* Digital cameras are great fun, mainly because you can view the pictures instantly without sending a film to be processed. Yo* can download, copy and print pictures as often as you like.

As with scanners, changing the automatic functions of the camera can be very effective. When manipulating images, automatic colour reversal can convert an image from positive to negative and images can be converted into specified styles such as "solarisation" or "pencil drawing". The more expensive your camera, the more effects you will have.

* After you have downloaded your pictures, a graphics package such as Photoshop will allow you to create more visual effects. Yo* can recolour pictures, blend them and apply radical deformations.

* Your digital camera may have the option to capture a series of pictures over time. Yo* can use this to create simple animations. Yo* may be able to record a short motion clip, and even sound.

* If you are thinking about moving images, you could try a digital video camera. This is where the fun really starts. It is simple to plan and record home movies and editing is easy too. If you have an iMac DV computer, you can create a masterpiece using iMovie. Yo* can add a soundtrack, narration, sound effects and visual effects. Visit www. apple.comeducationdv - the site is packed with ideas for using digital video in the classroom.

Paddy Paterson

Paddy Paterson, skills development adviser for LT Scotland, and Stephanie Lightbrown, senior art and design teacher at Cumnock Academy, will give a presentation on Perfect Picture: tips and tricks in the use of digital cameras, scanners and digital video on September 19 and 20 at 1pm

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