For this session, we looked at some tools like Flickr, Bubblr and Bookr to create our own materials. I used Bookr to improve the worksheet I had prepared before. Bookr is a tool to share your own photobook by using Flickr images. Before looking at the material I created in Bookr, I want to give more information about Flickr. Flickr is a popular online photo-sharing service and is totally free. The best way to search for a photo is to insert a tag or a key word. You can easily create a group of photos for your class by placing them into different sets, tagging each one with the student who took the photo etc. and the best thing of Flickr is most of the images are in the public domain. The reason why I explained Flickr in detail is most coursebooks are lack of authentic, recent and relevant supplementary visuals to texts. It is because ” they rely heavily on stock or archive photography banks known as visual content industry which is responsible for nearly 75 percent of the images we find in advertising, marketing and design. It is this that gives ELT materials that artificial, airbrushed feel” ( Ben Goldstein). So, why don’t you produce your own materials and make them visually appealing by using Flickr or your mobile phone, camera. The visuals you add will probably have more impact on learners than the ones in coursebooks as they are original, recent and relevant to texts.
The positive impact of visuals is obvious when we compare them. Although the content in my Bookr and worksheet are same, they look completely different. The one in Bookr is like a unit in a coursebook, and looks professional.
As the graphic designer Alan Fletcher said:
Although words and pictures can signify the same thing, the effect they produce can be quite different. Writing ‘stars and stripes’ on a piece of cloth is not as effective as illustrating them. The words don’t provoke the same emotional charge.
All of my classmates and my tutor agreed that this improved version of the worksheet is better because there are visuals that will probably attract and engage learners. They also liked the number of visuals and how they are placed in my Bookr. While designing it, I tried to avoid using visuals in both pages which may be distractive. The only negative feedback I got was about the length of the text in each page. We all agreed that long texts may distract learners. Taking these comments into consideration, I edited the worksheet and this is the latest version of my Bookr. However, there isn’t an activity section in the latest version. It is because I lost my work two times while trying to create my new Bookr and the last time I didn’t want to take any risks and published the material. I think Bookr is good for adding visuals and writing 2 or 3 sentences about them not for long texts as you don’t have any save option. For example; you can teach nationalities, countries, flags, jobs etc. through Bookr and Microsoft Office Publisher would be more appropriate while creating worksheets with long texts and visuals.
One of the principles for developing materials set by Tomlinson is engaging learners both affectively and cognitively in the language learning experience. Teachers can provide this affective engagement through Bookr as visuals are fun and appealing. Learners will probably enjoy visuals that get their attention and engage in the text more. Bookr may also provide the cognitive engagement as visuals aid comprehension. It may also increase learners’ retention because image rich texts help students remember the story which might build their memory skills.
As most of the today’s youth population is visually literate, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer than before. Therefore, try to use visuals as much as possible to develop visual literacy, engage learners, illustrate language,increase retention of new language items and so on.
This post is 711 words. Perhaps I should have drawn half a picture instead? 🙂
Goldstein, B. (2008) Working with Images: A Resource Book for the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.