Publish and Build Communities Around Digital Images

Teaching in the Community Colleges 2004 Online Conference

Alan Levine
Instructional Technologist
Maricopa Community Colleges

What is this PhotoBlogging Stuff?

If you have not heard of weblogs or "blogging" you are not alone... but you missing one of the new education technology hot topics. "Blogs" are easy to use web publishing tools that allow anyone to create chronologically organized web sites (usually narrowly labeled as "diaries") with built in search and comment features. They are template driven and usually offer a series of well designed layout displays, that can be customized by those with the skills and interest to so.

Blogs are public, and most typically present the newest content first, with links to automatically created archives organized by date and/or subject categories. Think of it is the simplest personal web publishing possible. A "blog" is both a noun (the web site itself) and a verb- the act of writing to that web site.

Blogs are typically text oriented, and may consist of very short entries or can be very long, multi-page compositions. The focus of blogs becomes much more on self-expression than exercises to meet some minimum assignment. And writers often began to look at what they "blog" on the light of what will intrigue visitors to post comments or to write more from yet another blog site. Blogs can become very dynamic, but loosely structured social environments.

A new interesting variant are weblogs that consist mostly of collections of digital images. They are communicating purely by imaery. These "photoblogs" offer a potential way for, say art students to build portfolios, or science students to post pictures documenting a project. Students doing lab exercises or field work could record observational data (e.g. plant growth, architecture styles, geology features) as project components. They might be useful in applications of tele-medicine. Students might collect images of their service learning projects.

The new technology of mobile telephones allows people to take photos with a very portable device, and then mail them instantly to a photoblog to be posted. This is the phenomenon called "moblogging" or "mobile blogging." For example, during the drastic 2003 wildfires in southern California, a site appeared that featured almost real time pictures of the fire activity sent by hundreds of individuals (

And while these new camera phones may seem the latest and greatest, look out, because just around the corner are phones that can record video and post it to a web site.

Photoblogs offer an easy way for external visitors to provide feedback (comments) and have interesting tools to link to other photoblogs of interest, plus "syndication" tools that allows icons of the most recent photos to be automatically displayed and updated in other web sites. If students in an photography class were creating online photoblogs of their work, an instructor could set up a web site that allows him/her to scan the latest updates from a single web site that uses these syndication feeds, rather than visiting the sites to examine what has been added.

In this presentation, you will learn more about blogging, moblogging, and photoblogging by showing provide examples of different photoblog tools, both of which are free to use, and example photoblogs. We will try and speculate on the cutting edge of how such a technology may be used in an educational context (many of the sites you see are pictures of young people socializing, with varying degree levels of body piecings or tatoos...)

During the conference and the chat session, we will be inviting you to post photos live via a mobile phone or via email, so you can see how easy it is to update.

Our thanks to the folks from Buzznet for not only providing a great, free photoblog tool, but also for providing us unlimited upload access for the TCC2004 Conference PhotoBlog.