I have spent a great deal of time learning how to use Flickr and comparing its capabilities to Google's Picasa which I have been using for a few years although only to manage the photographs on my computer. I have uploaded a couple of albums to the web but never used it in any real way for my teaching.
Before I even started, I wanted to get an idea of whether or not I should just expand on my Picasa skills and not bother with Flickr. I did some quick Google searches to see what people were saying. In general people are split, but the recurring theme is that Flickr has a larger following, Picasa has greater strengths in terms of a local management option for photographs and Flickr has some better Web 2.0 management tools but the gap is closing. There seems to be a bit of war going on terms of pricing for storage space. At the moment it looks that Picasa is a bit cheaper. The web articles did not really address how Flickr and Picasa compare when used for classroom activities and projects.
A real concern I have with Flickr from the outset is that your free account limits your monthly uploads to 300MB. This may not be a real concern, but I am thinking in a class project where you might be sharing a Flickr account you could run out of space at a very awkward moment. For instance with this project I didn't do much in terms of editing my photos before I uploaded them. I used around 60 photos and used up 40 percent of my monthly allowance.
I have also read that if your Flickr account is inactive for as little as 90 days your account could be deleted. This is something to keep in mind if you want to revisit projects from year to year. Another limitation of the free account is your photo stream is limited to your last 200 pictures only.
In my experiments with Flickr I used some of my vacation pictures. I often teach units about Canada so I put together a small set of pictures that I can use in the future to help Grade 3 students thinking about Canada's provinces. I have put my photostream below.
I wanted to have a slide show that would take my kids across Canada from BC to Newfoundland. When I use photostream it just uses the order that I have uploaded my photos, which in this case is the reverse of what I wanted. The user can change the options to play it in reverse and with or without the captions. I was hoping to create a default that was the reverse. Of course this photostream will change as soon as I upload other pictures. I uploaded a picture of my school so it ruined my slide show. As a result I then experimented with making a set. I also used the feature in Flickr that allows you to make a set a direct post from Flickr. That is the post that you see before this post in my blog.
I like the feature in making a set where you can write a description for the whole collection of pictures. I tagged all the photos with the province name, the city if relevant and other describers. I discovered that using quotation marks will keep multiword tags as a single unit (i.e. "British Columbia").
I used the magazine cover tool mentioned in one of our readings. I found the bighugelabs website to be a great place to begin understanding what is possible. After make a magazine cover I then used the mosaic tool. To make the mosaic I searched my Flickr name for the tag "Nova Scotia" and got the mosaic below.
I then tried to create another mosaic searching Flickr as a whole using the tag "Ottawa". I was impressed with the result. I am thinking this is a great way to create some associations and ideas with a place. I can really see using this in the classroom. I guess there is a risk as to what sort of inappropriate pictures could end up in the mosaic. All the links below the mosaic are provided in HTML code when you create it in the mosaic tool. You just copy and paste the code into your blog or website when you are in the HTML view. Be careful to paste the code in the appropriate spot or you can really mess up your page.
1. IMG_6769sm2, 2. Autumn mailbox, 3. _MG_3203, 4. Cycling in Canada's Capital Region / Le vélo dans la région de la capitale Canada, 5. Sussex Courtyard / Les cours Sussex, 6. Rideau Canal Skateway / patinoire du canal Rideau, 7. _MG_3422, 8. IMG_0031, 9. _MG_5138, 10. _MG_6328, 11. _MG_8011, 12. In the heart of the Capital / Dans le coeur de la capitale, 13. _MG_4483, 14. _MG_6842, 15. IMG_0629, 16. _MG_5727, 17. IMG_6503, 18. _MG_4572, 19. Untitled, 20. _MG_1712, 21. _MG_6075, 22. The Response, National War Memorial / La Réponse, Monument commémoratif de guerre du Canada, 23. _MG_3214, 24. gatineau park, 25. gatineau park, 26. lina, 27. canadian parliament, 28. gatineau park, 29. Missing GSD, 30. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 31. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 32. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 33. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 34. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 35. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 36. Moment of Silence
My next experiment was to put the pictures in my Canada Photo Journey set on a map. I had a feeling it would be daunting. It ended up just being a drag and drop procedure. My digital camera doesn't embed any coordinates in the photos so I used the search feature to find place names. I do find the Flickr maps to be a little short on detail. I would rather be using the power of a Google map. Here is the Flickr map I created.
It wasn't very obvious where I needed to go to annotate a picture but I found I just needed to click and drag--there is no menu feature to look for. You can get some HTML code that you can paste into your webpage of blog so you embed the picture in whatever context you like. I have embedded it below but you need to click on the picture to then go to Flickr to see the annotations. It is not quite what I had hoped for.
I am pretty excited about what I am seeing on Flickr. I would consider subscribing to a professional account for my school. It would be wonderful to have the photostream on our school website so we can show what is happening in the life of the school.
I still like the photo management features of Picasa. I find them a little more intuitive. If you haven't tried the facial recognition feature in Picasa you should. If you are trying to put together a year end slide show for your school you can have Picasa create photo collections for each of your students by facial recognition alone. Just to show that I have done something in Picasa I am putting a link to some group research projects that some of my library students made using MovieMaker. There are three projects in the album.
You can store a huge number of images on your website. I decided to try it and uploaded nearly 600 pictures in one go. It took my computer all night to upload them but I didn't get any messages about lack of space or quotas. I didn't tag these pictures and had spent a lot of time putting them in order on my computer. I was happy to see the upload maintained the order. The picture by the way are from a month long trip to Brazil in 2010. Two international students we had hosted a different times in the past few years got together to issue an invitation we couldn't pass up. They asked us to fly down and each student's family would host of us for two weeks each and show us around. In this case I am limiting access by just pasting the link on my blog. The blog is limited in who can see it and only people with the link to my Picasa Album can see it. I can choose at any time to remove the link from Album and thus make my Album private again. I found that you can do this with Flickr as well.