CaliPhonar is the latest rendition of the open photography class Phonar, tailored for a much younger audience in California. As glamourous as this may sound, it has been quite challenging. Alongside Jonathan Worth and his merry men (Sifis Kesisoglou, Hollie Woodward and Alex Mason) we have been trying to tackle the issues of teaching over the airwaves and in completely different time-zones.
Each week we have learnt something new about how to teach digital natives. In the class there are 10 kids aged 12-16 and we have been talking to them through Google hangouts and over social networking Apps, setting tasks and sharing pictures. It hasn’t come easily, but we have learnt to talk less and teach more; kids learn by doing and feeding back. From taking portraits of our friends from a distance and giggling, now the kids are blossoming; they are starting to think about framing, different angles and light, making them better photographers. Last Friday, Jonathan turned the spotlight onto his merry men with me to lead. Crikey. I decided to break the one hour session into quick response tasks and explaining how they lead onto each other. The goal was to consider placing pictures together to make a bigger meaning/picture. This is to help the kids leading up to next week’s session led by film maker Alex. We are moving the kids away from snapping pics and more into considering how to make a collection of images together to make a narrative.
In the build up to last session, the day before we set the task of taking 3 pictures. One of just the sky, one of just a building and one of the ground. We got lots of responses from California and here and I put them in a mosaic: the mosaic represents the narrative that this new landscape has been made up of pictures from the UK and West Coast USA. Setting the ‘Greater than the Whole’ task, the kids shot super close up images of their friends and used this mosaic skill to then make a new picture. The results were awesome and we cannot wait to see how they develop this over the week.
Phonar has really had to change its way of teaching; pulling apart every learning point, shaking it around and turning it into fun quick tasks that can be done using iOS systems.