The images at Old Book Illustrations Scrapbook Blog are a treat to explore. Poring over this collection of vintage illustrations (mostly wood engravings/woodcuts, etchings or metal engravings) taken from books published between the 1700s through the early 1900s, is an exciting endeavor. One of my favorite pastimes is grabbing an illustration, dropping it into an image-editing program and overlaying colors.
Drawing is a powerful tool for learning. Humans have harnessed the potential of graphic representations for millennia to communicate ideas. With the advent of interactive whiteboards and digital slates like those available from GTCO, Promethean, and SMARTBoard, teachers and pupils still have the option of creating illustrations as a means of presenting, exploring, and refining ideas. Effective 21st century educators consistently model and facilitate the use of digital illustration to
- engage pupils,
- make learning relevant,
- increase the efficiency and effectiveness of instruction, and
- build a foundation for lifelong learning.
Employing the built-in features of the software that powers interactive whiteboards and digital slates is worthwhile. After all, each package allows users to create geometric figures with both ease and accuracy. That said, don’t allow the features of the program to confine illustrations to one computer in one classroom. Learners should be able to share drawings with audiences outside a classroom, school, and district. Think beyond the classroom computer to a web-based tool for drawing.
Check out Odosketch. It’s a Flash-powered drawing resource that’s been around since 2006, thanks to Odopod, a digital agency that works with a number of major brands. This bare-bones artist tablet and colors doesn’t create accurate geometric shapes. However, users don’t need an account to use Odosketch (although, registering for one makes it possible for artists to save their work). Visitors who want to draw need only mouse over the toolbar at the bottom of the canvas. Colors, brush strokes, and other options will appear. It’s a simple means of sketching quick or detailed pictures.
By allowing pupils to use an interactive whiteboard or digital slate in conjunction with Odosketch, educators facilitate the kind of powerful communication skills explored in Dan Roam‘s primer for creating problem-solving pictures, The Back of the Napkin.