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Digital Images: Capturing America's Past with the Technology of Today

Social Education Volume 68, Number 3, ISSN 0037-7724


The use of digital photography in the social studies classroom offers students an application of technology that can help them develop the skills necessary to access, analyze, and evaluate all forms of information and communication. Students learn to recognize how images represent diverse perspectives, connect disparate pieces of information, and can be manipulated to alter the authenticity or reliability of the information. Working with visual materials fosters skills that are important when judging the accuracy and meaning of, for example, television news, fiction and nonfiction books, museum displays, films, and other forms of communication. Digital imagery provides a hands-on, authentic way to capture the American experience. Incorporating images into instruction can contribute to a motivating learning environment since children intrinsically enjoy working with images and engaging in the process of deduction. Students can use digital cameras to capture images within their community; this provides opportunities for them to enhance their interpretation of local history, economics, geography, and politics. Students can also exchange and compare their collected digital images electronically with classes in other locations to foster the process of historical inquiry across geographic regions. Cost reduction and advances in the technology of digital cameras have made this instrument more suitable than ever for wide-scale application in schools. By facilitating inquiry-based learning, encouraging constructivist pedagogies, and promoting an exchange of knowledge, the classroom becomes a site of active learning, fostered by the technological resources available. This article includes the following sections: (1) Digital Imagery in the Social Studies Classroom; (2) The Trashing of Our Community: A Photo Essay; (3) Integrating Digital Images into Social Studies Teacher Education; (4) Evaluating the Integration of Digital Imagery; and (5) Safety and Ethics. List of web sites relating to topics discussed in the article is also included. (Contains 9 notes.)


Berson, M.J. (2004). Digital Images: Capturing America's Past with the Technology of Today. Social Education, 68(3),. Retrieved July 18, 2019 from .

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