So, I just can’t decide which is best so will scope out two approaches to using images to spark story-telling and sharing to connect online learners.

The first is a longtime favourite from Alan Levine (Cogdog’s Five Card Flickr) that offers a fun gamified approach where participants are asked to create a story based on a random selection of images they draw (by clicking rather than rolling the dice). The stimulus is visual but the storytelling is usually written (although you can build in oral storytelling too.

The second option, also using the Flickr photo collection, is from TinEye Lab (Multicolr: Search by color) – The Multi-colr search engine searches 20 million Creative Commons licensed images!  Participants select up to 5 colours that they want in their images and then can use sliders to set composition. They can even use tags to refine their search.  How you build the actual activity is up to you.

One caveat – these searches don’t filter for creative commons license, so, if your participants are completing their activity and sharing in an online course, you can share attributions but showing them how to open each Flickr image to check the terms of use.

Intended purpose: to initiate (build) a sense of community among participants who are all pursuing courses within a shared program; this activity would be offered during the initial introductory foundation course that they all take. After this course, they may all take different courses, fully online or blended offerings, at different times over a two year period. My hope is that they would have fun and get to know each other enough to make them want to stay connected in other ways that are offered during the program.

What?  I chose to use Cogdog (Alan Levine’s) Five Card Flickr open licensed activity. I selected the ds106 option.

Things to consider:  Suitable for an online or blended course offering. For the online activity, learners would have to be comfortable with basic web browser skills, and have a fairly good internet connection and relatively recent computer and web browser. If any learner found the online activity too challenging, the trainer could easily create an alternate assignment and share as a downloadable document or even send via snail-mail. Learners could be encouraged to be creative in how they told their story – as long as whatever story they told could be shared with their peers.

Alternate option:  Use the Five Card Flickr search to perform a random sort and then download several selected sets to produce different documents.  The images could be resized, grouped and added to a Word or editable PDF document so participants could complete as they choose.

Disclaimer:  This is a new try for me (haven’t had an opportunity to test it on my intended victims (oops, I mean audience 😉

Tasks: (what I need to do before offering)

  • Find a ‘hook’ or way to awaken creative instincts – make it fun. Share some funny, poignant examples. Roll a virtual dice to determine who gets to try first (if I’m able to get them started in a synchronous online session?)
  • Provide a checklist that includes a direct link “Are you ready to play Five Card Flickr” and sets a timeframe and explains how to submit to a shared space.
    • If they’re comfortable sharing their story in the open, they can submit to the Five Card Flickr site and share a link back into the course discussion forum.
    • If they’re not, they can save the images to their desktop and build the story there or in an online page you provide that can be shared with other members of the course.
  • Set a date for final storytelling submission – allow a few days thereafter and encourage them to read each others and share comments. You may want to provide some simple guidelines for comments.
  • Provide a summary or share highlights along the way – this helps to keep learners thinking about the activity – even if they’re not actually logged into the course site.
  • Encourage learners to share what they enjoyed (or might change) about the activity for future classes.