“Research suggests that that the educational value of a media format depends upon the ways in which its representational affordances interact with complex features of the learning environment, including learner characteristics, content domains, pedagogical strategies, and cognitive and social processes.”
(Koehler, Yadav, Phillips & Cavazos-Kottke, 2005)
I felt the above quote fit perfectly with my interest in visual research. In my opinion, photography is a media format that can seize intimate and truthful moments in ways video simply can not capture. It’s a form of communication that works hand-in-hand with research perfectly.
I began taking images in 2010 and I haven’t stopped since. I like to take pictures of many things but social situations tend to be my favourite. Below is an image I took of my daughter at a Tim Hortons outlet. She is obviously not happy being in this lineup but what struck me was how oblivious those around her were to her unhappiness, mostly likely due to her size. People were looking over her and not at her. Had I not taken that image, my daughter’s mood at that particular moment would have never been captured.
In 2012 I had the opportunity to document the introduction of iPads into a Grade 4 classroom. The class was learning how to create narratives and so the teacher devised a lesson to reinforce that concept but using the iPad and two storytelling apps – StoryKit and Toontastic. I asked for permission to document the process by taking images and video. I took about 180 images over a period of two days and I feel that some of them really show the excitement and fun the students felt working with the iPad to create their digital narratives. I could certainly describe what I felt the students were feeling with words but any sort of description would fall short of the engaged faces I was able to capture in my photos. Even the video I don’t think does the whole process justice. An image freezes a particular instance in time and unless you stop a video when viewing it, you just can’t get the same effect.
I have also begun a project documenting street art through photos. To reach an even wider audience I have created a Flickr page called The Social Street Art Project.
The question then becomes if these events, like the ones I’ve described above, need to be documented. I believe they should be as they could provide a more accurate understanding of the research being undertaken. As Mitchell (2011) states, visuals serve as a “mode of inquiry and representation, and as a mode of dissemination and engagement” (p.5).
As I conduct more research on a variety of educational projects I will have my camera by my side. I know that what I document with the lens will help me understand better what I am seeing with my eyes.
Koehler, M.J., Yadav, A., Phillips, M. & Cavazos-Kottke, S. (2005). What is video good for? Examining how media and story genre interact. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 14(3), 249-272. Norfolk, VA: AACE.
Mitchell, C. (2011). Doing Visual Research.London: Sage.
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