Power of images in online courses

Copyright Lindee Photo Designs

It’s time for new calendars, most with lovely photos marking each month of 2012. It is also time for Fuller Online students in Winter 2012 courses to introduce themselves, and many of them will share photos of themselves with fellow students and instructors. These images, including smiling families and friends, set in exotic or ordinary settings, of professional quality or snapped with smartphones, are often extremely beautiful. Those of us who’ve worked long in online courses joke that we could produce multiple calendars with these great photos.

The pictures that students post in Moodle Forums or in Personal Introductions in eCollege courses often carry an emotional weight that words alone can’t convey, offering a glimpse into private lives and powerful memories. They tell stories of honeymoons, graduations, family reunions, babies, church and missionary life, adventures in mountains and at sea, and daily life for students in a great number of countries and cultures.

What surprises me most as I admire these wonderful photos in online courses is that in the many small groups in which I participated face-to-face during my Fuller MDiv studies, not once did anyone pull out a family photo, or show us a picture of a beloved pet, or a scene of a kayak adventure or recent dinner with friends. I’m sorry about that. I think I would have learned more about my classmates if that had happened, and understood better exactly what each said in contributing to our in-class discussions.

Fuller Online students are lucky to have a chance to get to know each other in many ways, and one of those ways is through the sharing of photographs with one another. All they need is a little encouragement to do that.

Barbara Bell

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