Google images – or bust!

I’m constantly amazed at the lack of direction provided to students about the use, value, purpose and function  images into their work – including the notion of authentic creativity (i.e. ripping off other people’s work and presenting it as your own is not mashup – its trampling on someone’s work).

Well I won’t preach – no point. I see teachers constantly falling for presentation as if it somehow has translated into quality higher order thinking in the heads of students. Doing a google search for images, and dropping it into a powerpoint, and essay, an animoto, a machinima or anything, without some purpose behind it all teaches very little…AND it doesn’t even address visual literacy or creativity either.

So yes, there are places to find images..if that’s all you need.  See Find Free Images Online!

Doing a Google image search is also valid if the image found is demonstrating cognitive understanding in a visual way, and is also referenced back to the source.  For example, a good image from NASA, credited as such, adds value to a student’s compilation of knowledge and understanding of the topic being considered.

Unfortunately, what  I see too often is a pretty picture found, dropped into a title page or text, to ‘make it look good, miss’, not chosen to enhance and support the content being discussed and explored, and certainly not referenced back to the source.

So I suggest some of the following uses for Google image search – ways that support the cognitive engagement with topic and text:

  • If you want to know if a person is a man or a woman and the name doesn’t help, do a search for the name.
  • If you don’t know the meaning of a word, the pictures may help you.
  • Find what’s interesting about a site, by looking at the pictures included. For example: wired.com.
  • Type the name of a painter and turn your search into a randomized art class!
  • Discuss how images have been used in sites for key historical characters, and the message that they portray. e.g. try ‘Hitler’
  • Have some ‘keyword’ fun with Google Image Labeler. See how you go in two minutes, and what keywords you come up with to name your image!
  • Play with Montage-a-Google and focus on visual literacy!

Truth is nothing will stop teachers and students using Google Image Search. It’s easy.It’s here to stay.

Comes back to pedagogy doesn’t it.  Do you want pretty pictures? or do you want to help teach kids creativity, discernment, visual literacy – oh and ethics around the creative arts :-)

One thought on “Google images – or bust!

  1. Well said, Judy! It’s difficult to stand by and watch a superficial assessment of students’ work in some cases. Naturally visual presentation is important, but I see teachers including assessment criteria and then ignoring them, scanning superficially and being swayed by the way something looks. I suppose I’ve offended people now, but it really is frustrating. I also see ‘technology’ being added as ‘extra fries’, usually in the form of a powerpoint (incorrectly used). Thanks for the Google image search suggestions; it’s good to have a positive direction.
    cheers
    Tania

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