George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Can-Do Camera: New Uses for New Technology

December 5, 2007

When a FedEx truck pulled into our driveway to deliver my new digital camera the other day, I headed down to the driveway to help the large panel truck get turned around, only to see it back up with seeming abandon, coming perilously close to a sporty red Honda Civic that belongs to a visiting friend.

Seeing the truck get as close as it did on the first three-point maneuver, I moved more quickly. And when I saw that it was about to do it again, I jogged up and called out, "Whoa!" when the rugged step bumper was less than 2 inches from the Civic's formed-plastic bumper.

The young driver, hearing the angst in my voice, slid his window open and calmly said with a smile, "Don't worry. I've got a camera. I can see the car." Still a tad antsy, I walked to the back of the truck and saw the device, discreetly mounted at the top of the truck, peering down at the car's bumper.

I took possession of my new camera, thanked the driver, and started back up the hill to the house. But seeing this incredible act of maneuvering made possible through electronics got me to thinking about this and other technologies we see every day and how they might be made best use of at school.

Take, for instance, the remote camera that allowed the FedEx guy to navigate like he had eyes on the back of his truck. How might that device be used in academic settings beyond school-security applications? How about setting up a camera to watch what the classroom hamster really does when no one is watching? Or what about using one to collect real-time data on traffic in the school zone outside your building, analyzing what you collect, and sharing that information with community planners?

What about hitching a wireless remote camera to a bunch of tethered helium balloons and making a lesson on perspective and point of view in writing come to life?

And take a look back at one of Ron Smith's posts, in which he discusses cell phones. So, now you tell me: What technologies do you see in your life outside of school that might be used effectively in the classroom?

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