During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #12.

Photo sharing sites have come a long way since the early days of consumer-oriented digital photography. At first these sites were just a means for uploading photos to processing labs and ordering prints for friends and family. Now people can keep entire albums online and share them with far-flung friends, family, and even the world-at-large. Furthermore, photos can be subject-tagged, which makes them searchable and links them to related photos uploaded by others.

Teens can use photo sharing sites like Flickr and SmugMug in a grand variety of ways. They can create shared galleries which allow a group of friends (or a team or a club or a class or…you name it) to upload photos, tag them, and comment on them. Galleries can be made private or public, and teens can keep up with changes in galleries by subscribing to RSS feeds. And, yes, teens can still order glossy prints.

This semester at my school we have a small group of students working on a photo gallery project which will consist of school sports photos taken during the past several years. The students’ primary task is to select the best photos, tag them, use image editing software to correct lighting problems and other technical imperfections, and upload their selections to a photo sharing site. We’ve advised the students to use SmugMug because it does not post advertising on its pages. The school will pay the $40 annual membership. Why would the school make such an offer? Once these photos are available and searchable, parents, relatives, athletes, and friends can order high quality prints for reasonable fees. Of course, the school can (and will) define the community that can view the photos. As a bonus, the school, as the content provider, will actually get a small percentage of the fees!

By doing this project, our students will learn valuable skills as well as provide a real service to the school community. If DOPA, in its current form, had passed, students like ours would no longer have had these learning opportunities and their schools would have lost out on the resulting benefits. Let’s hope that a DOPA reincarnation does not occur in future sessions of Congress.

2 Thoughts on “Positive Use of Social Networking #12 – Photo sharing

  1. This is an amazing project. What kind of permission form did the school use? are there students who opted out? What if someone doesn’t want their photo taken?

  2. fharris [Member] on October 14, 2006 at 5:26 pm said:

    We’re actually working through the process right now and have asked the students to include the investigation of such issues as part of their project (this is for a class and the students are getting credit). They are using photos taken by yearbook staff, which consists of students and the yearbook advisor. Our parents sign a general release for the use of photos like those. Some parents do fill out an “opt-out” form and photos of their students will not be included. One of the many questions is, what happens to those permissions when the students graduate? Can those photos still be made available? We’ll also have to study the implications of just managing the whole thing. So anyway, it’s a newly hatched work in progress, a proof-of-concept idea we’re really excited about.

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