With “Vizit,” Elementary Students can Share Pictures…

Added Note: I urge you to read the comment posted by Matthew Growney, Founder and CEO of Isabella Products.  He makes some important clarifications.  This blog post is intended to urge education leaders to invest in student information and communication technologies with which learners and teachers can access, share, work, and compellingly communication information.  I do not, in any way, mean to suggest that we not consider Vizits for the purposes for which this very interesting product was intended.

With “Vizit,” Elementary students can share pictures with other students in other classes in other parts of the country or world, but…

I just read through one of those e-mails from one of those PR firms, hired to describe some new technology product that will revolutionize education, hoping that the reader will want to write about it. Be careful what you wish for…

Vizit appears to be a digital picture frame with broadband (3G) capabilities, enabling the sharing of photos across the wireless net. The pricing, as listed on the web site is $279.99 for the device (Charcoal or Silver finish with two other styles on the way), and $5.99 a month for 100 photos or $79.99 a year for up to 1450 photos. (I wrote for the school pricing but have not received a reply)

The press release, which was attached to the email, described their “Visit the Schools” program where..

..ten elementary schools are receiving Vizit two-way digital photo frames to utilize in their classrooms for a four-month trial to help define how Vizit can become an educational tool for students. Vizit is the world’s first two-way full touch screen digital photo frame allowing friends and family to share photos from anywhere, anytime.

Matthew Growney, Founder and CEO of Isabella Products, said that the program “…was established to help empower teachers with a new piece of technology that is simple to use and convenient for sharing student-based content from just about anywhere to the classroom.” The press release continued by describing how an elementary classroom in Tennessee is being paired with a class in New York, where they will use Vizits to swap photos and compare their lives and learning in the different states.

I think that this is a great global awareness activity and an excellent example of wall’less learning — and to be completely fair, I think that creative teachers could come up with some very clever and potent ways of using this technology, such as using the devices with autistic students to help them learn to identify feelings, as described in the press release. If I was a second grade teacher, without ubiquitous access to ICT for each of my students, and someone came in and gave us thirty Vizit devices for four months, I would be thrilled and eager to start pushing the envelope on these things.

But I would be settling for way too little.

The Vizit, as described so far, is limited, offering little more than what we and many of our children are already doing with cell phones, and way WAY less than what we’re doing with laptops and net books. Students, using the Vizit would not be reading (except words that have been photographed) nor would they be writing (except for words written and then photographed). It is not a literacy machine. My second graders would continue to spend most of their time pushing sticks across their paper and reading text that was stamped on pages months (or years) ago and miles away, trucked across the country, and handed out dead and stiff.

Sadly, educators will buy these technologies for their children because.. (phrases from the email & press release)

  • “..they make learning more interesting, interactive and visual for students”
  • “..schools are now adopting tech-savvy teaching formats”
  • “..modern techniques is a great way to engage students”
  • It is a “..new piece of technology that is simple to use”

OMG!  Any teacher could use this! (sarcasm)

Could you do your job with 100 pictures a month? Neither can your learners.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.