How to Use Photos as an Educational Tool

The 21st century student has access to more information and resources than their predecessors ever had. They are constantly bombarded with information and digital imagery in an effort to help make learning a more interesting and unique experience that will enhance their education. Whether this information and these images come from social media, online photo sharing platforms, television or any other source this overload can often be seen to be detrimental rather than helpful to their educational development.

It could be argued that too much visual stimulation could, in fact, make it harder for some students to keep a focus on the learning at hand. It could also make it difficult for them to concentrate. There is no denying that photos make a great educational tool that can help teachers. However, it is really important to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to ensure that any negative effects of too much imagery are combatted.

There are, fortunately, several ways in which teachers can use images to the best effect in order to help their students whilst not overwhelming them with too many visuals.

Illustrate a point

There is no denying that the information contained in textbooks can often be somewhat dry, with the only thing breaking up large chunks of text being diagrams or basic drawings. Real life photographs can serve as a much better illustration. They can really help students to visualise a textbook example as a real life event.

Geography is a perfect example of this. The devastating effects of a volcano are hard to imagine from words alone, and if you have never seen images of an active volcano, it is impossible to understand the sheer amount of destruction that they can cause. Photos cannot only show the severity of an eruption. They can also show the damage that is caused. When used in conjunction with images taken in the months and even years after an eruption, it can also demonstrate the length of time that it can take before things begin to return to normal. There is no more powerful illustration of a point than seeing it through images taken of a real life event.

Enhance language

Studying photographs form an important part of English language lessons. They are often used as a learning tool to offer students a starting point for a piece of written work. This might be simply an exercise in description, the setting for a story or even the illustration for a poem. Images can provoke strong reactions and when the right photograph is used it can offer a really interesting learning opportunity that will provide a wide and varied number of responses from a class.

Study history

Whether you are studying historical events or architecture, photographs are a great way of seeing how things were in the past and learning from them. Architectural images are a great way at looking at how building styles have changed over the years and looking at what features were so popular that they were carried from one style to the next.

Study nature

Images of animals, plants and even landscapes can be used to study nature. They can help us to visit places and see things that we might otherwise not have the opportunity to see either in real life or up close. Whilst photos may not completely replicate the experience of seeing a place or animal in person, they are the next best option when this is not possible.

Great photos, whatever subject matter they portray, are a fantastic tool that can help with education on so many different levels.

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