Thursday, April 26, 2012

BYOC (Camera) School Project

For the first time at my school, we allowed students to bring their own digital cameras for a school project, titled the BYOC School Project. After attempts to purchase more digital cameras failed due to budget cuts, I had to find a way to get enough cameras so that every student in the fifth grade (around 170) would be able to use one for a currently running project.

The students' project is to create a movie using Apple's iMovie software that reflects their memories and experiences while in elementary school. Their project needs to include pictures of themselves, their classmates, their friends, faculty and staff, and the campus, so when they look back at their movie 5, 10, or 15 years from now, they will know what everyone and everything looked like in elementary school.

Instead of trying to share 14 digital cameras with each class of around 30 students each, I decided to attempt a BYOC (Bring Your Own Camera). I sent a letter home about a week before our next technology class that explained to parents the need for their child to bring a digital camera. If the parents were willing to allow their child to bring a camera from home then they would have to sign a permission form and return it to school. I had to make it clear to parents that if their child would not be able to bring their own camera, then the school would provide them with one during class time, but I also shared the advantages for students who could bring their own camera to school. Those students would have more freedom and flexibility with the amount of pictures they could take and the times in which they could take them. It also had to be made clear to parents that the technology teacher (myself) and the general education teacher would not be responsible for teaching the students how to use their personal cameras. With such a wide variety of digital cameras on the market, it would have been a major time waster trying to figure out how each student's camera worked and then showing them how to use it. I would only be responsible for teaching students how to upload pictures to iPhoto and then how to access them in iMovie. I also required that students bring the charging cables and the USB transfer cable for their personal cameras if provided. But SD Cards could also be used with our classroom iMacs. Surprisingly, only about 37 students were unable to bring a camera from home and every student that did bring a camera already knew how to use it. I figured as much already, seeing as how young kids these days already have smartphones and handheld devices and most are experts at using them compared to adults.

Before I started the picture taking/uploading phase of the project, I had each student take a quick 5 minute Google survey in which I asked them questions about their digital cameras.

Here are the results of my survey. Not very surprising to me.

The responses to this question were close, and probably the most surprising out of the entire survey. These are only 5th grade students, so it shocks me that so many of them actually have their own personal digital camera. I specifically mentioned to the students during the survey that I did not want them to count their family/parents' digital camera. I wanted to know if they, themselves, have their own camera.
Its great to see that most families allow their younger children to use their family cameras, let alone touch them!
Even though 43% don't own their own cameras, almost 100% of the students have used digital cameras before. Awesome!
I correct myself. This one is and is not a shocker. I love the fact that 98% of the students feel comfortable using a digital camera which relieved me when thinking of the wide variety of cameras that would be brought to school.
This response makes me happy! And then I wonder who the 4 students are who weren't excited and why. Oh, well...can't please them all I suppose.

Before allowing the students the chance to actually use their cameras during the technology class time, I had to go over some very strict rules and consequences. The fact that we were allowing them bring their own cameras to use during school was a privilege, therefore rules had to be implemented in order to prevent chaos and disruption.

(I am also allowing students to bring thumb drives with pictures they have taken on past field trips in which they were allowed to bring cameras.)

  • Personal cameras are to be used by the owner ONLY. No one else may use the camera (unless you are having someone take a picture of you).
  • Cameras are to be used during designated times only. You should not be using your camera while on school campus unless you are given permission by your teachers. (That includes before & after school)
  • While on school campus, cameras are to be used for the Portfolio iMovie Project ONLY.
  • The flash is to be used for picture taking purposes ONLY and should only be used when you are in a dark place, not outside or in a lighted room.
  • Cameras and Thumb Drives may only be connected to computers with teacher permission and supervision.
  • You may only take pictures of other people if they have given you permission. It is polite to ask a person first if you may take their picture.


 Overall, the first day of this BYOC project turned out very well. The students were excited and focused. Students will continue to use their cameras during the last few weeks of school to take those lasting shots of their final elementary days.

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