Communication's Lynn Meade Learns to Bring 'PhotoVoice' Techniques to the Classroom

Lynn Meade (pictured left) participated in PhotoVoice training in London.
Tom Elkins

Lynn Meade (pictured left) participated in PhotoVoice training in London.

Lynn Meade, an instructor in the Department of Communication, used her Provost's Instructional Enhancement Grant to complete PhotoVoice training in London this summer. PhotoVoice is an organization and qualitative method used for community-based participatory research to document and reflect reality.

Meade intends to use the principles of PhotoVoice to empower her students to tell their own story in the "Communication in a Diverse World" course that she teaches. 

"I was impressed by how photographs can be used as a way to open the doors of communication," Meade said. "The PhotoVoice technique will be powerful in helping students to find their voice, to analyze their perspectives, and to share those perspectives with others."

Meade said she intends to use photographs to help students show others what is important to them: "In a perfect scenario, I will also be able to show these photographs to student service members, faculty, and administrators to inspire an additional layer of dialogue."

Meade said she originally found out about PhotoVoice during a service-learning training hosted here on campus.

"The speaker said she used the technique as a self-reflection and assessment tool. As soon as I heard about it, I knew that I had to learn more," Meade said. "I encourages others to look up the organization and see how it might fit into their research or teaching."

As a part of the training, Meade had to go through the process of being a student in a PhotoVoice workshop. Participants were prompted to photograph something they see everyday that is important to them.

"It was a hard assignment, because I was in an apartment in another country. It really stretched me to think creatively. I opted to photograph my glasses looking at a piece of art on the wall. My glasses represent how I frame the world and how I teach others the importance of how their frame of the world influences their perceptions," Meade said. 

At the training, each participant then had to stand in front of the group and explain their photograph.

"Honestly, I was surprised at how much information the participants shared. I feel like the photograph was key to unlocking our ideas about what is important," Meade said. "The biggest thing that I learned is that it is not about the photograph, it is about the reflection and the conversations that result from the photograph."

About PhotoVoice: PhotoVoice's mission is promote the ethical use of photography for positive social change, through delivering innovative participatory photography projects. By working in partnership with organizations, communities, and individuals worldwide, we will build the skills and capacity of underrepresented or at-risk communities, creating new tools of self-advocacy and communication.

Contacts

Lynn Meade, instructor
Department of Communication
479-445-4967, lmeade@uark.edu

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