Conference Report

UniServe Science News Volume 8 November 1997


UniServe Workshop: Putting You in the Picture

Anne Fernandez and Mark Nearhos
Educational Technologists, UniServe Science

UniServe's workshop 'Putting you in the picture', held in Newcastle 15-16 July, 1997 was organised to demonstrate innovative ways of finding, handling and manipulating images to enhance teaching materials. The workshop was sponsored by UniServe Science, UniServe Health and the UniServe Coordinating Centre.

With the rapid rate of change in technology over the last few years we are all surrounded by and constantly bombarded with visual effects. Consequently, to attract and hold a student's attention teachers are now, more than ever before, searching for graphic images. In addition, the enhancements in technology now make it feasable to have and very effectively integrate into teaching combinations of video clips, animations, sound and graphics. However, keeping abreast of what is available, where to find it and how to use it are constant concerns for teaching academics who are already stretched to the limit.

The programme was a combination of presentations, hands-on sessions, posters and informal discussions. Presentations covered: the educational aspects of teaching, such as, the move from teacher centred learning to student centred learning; logistical problems, such as, large classes and the requirement to teach more with less resources; collection, storage and retrieval of multimedia based information; and the value of images. The two opening papers addressed issues relating to teaching and new technologies in general. These provided a background for the later papers on specific uses of images in teaching. The hands-on sessions were on specific software packages. The first, on the challenging Adobe PhotoShop, enabled participants to create quite stunning effects in a relatively short time. The second was on the more user friendly Microsoft PowerPoint. This session proved useful for both novices and those with some prior experience. Unfortunately, as often happens, everyone wanted to see more but time ran out. Although there were only a few posters, between them they spanned the use of images in tertiary teaching: the use of imagery via video conferencing; multimedia use of graphics and animation; and the use of cable television.

It was apt that the final paper of the workshop exemplified the practice of a good presentation. The paper from Ric Lowe, Curtin University, titled 'How much are pictures worth?' was excellent in both content and presentation. He pointed out that the 'reading' of a picture is very complex. Aspects of it that seem obvious to the teacher may be completely missed by the student. One's interpretation of a picture is a combination of the knowledge brought to the viewing and that which is built up during the viewing. For the student to gain the intended learning benefit it may be necessary for the teacher to guide the student through the picture, such as: where to look; what are the elements; the sequence to follow; and how to connect the information.

As with most workshops the information and knowledge gained from the formal sessions were only a part of the valuable experience. It was a good opportunity to put faces to emails.

The proceedings of the workshop are available in PDF from the UniServe Science web page

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UniServe Science News Volume 8 November 1997

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