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III. Introduce Gigapan to Students: Ideas for the classroom

When introducing an interactive technology and communications based curricular project, teachers should check with school and district policies as well as obtain explicit permission from parents/guardians. (See Sample Permission form.)

It is with the presentation of this form that teachers can first introduce the project, perhaps by selecting an apt Gigapan image and projecting it to inspire a class dialogue. An example of this process might be:

1. Project the image hiding all textual clues including the word “fossil” in the top of the screen. (Alternatively, use a photograph more suited to the nature of your project.)

2. Ask students to tell you what they see in the photograph; most will say rocks on the beach or something similar.  Invite several students to zoom in and out of the photograph, and others to comment on what they are seeing.

3. Now invite students to select snapshots that reveal not only more detail, but also more information about the overall photograph. Ask students again what they are looking at, and help them to understand that this is a fossil treasure trove, revealed only by close examination.

4. Lead students in a discussion about the uses of photography, and explore the additional advantages of Gigapan technology.


QUESTION: Why do we take pictures? What do we use photography for?

·    to document, often to document change

·    to tell a story

·    to inspire social change

·    add ideas from your project



QUESTION: What does Gigapan technology show us in addition to the above uses of photography?

·    to see greater detail within a larger context

·    to infer new meanings

·    to create multidimensional stories with one photo

·    to stimulate creative thinking

·    to communicate, compare and contrast ideas with others around the globe.


IDEA: Sensitization Technique: Begin by showing an 8x10 of the scene, and ask students to comment on details. Then show them the Gigapan and see them engage even more!


CONSIDER: Visit this YouTube Video to meet Illah Nourbakhsh, Gigapan inventor, and find out how the Gigapan Dialogues Project was developed  (Start about 2:52 into the video.).  Other videos from the Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science are available on YouTube.

Goals and Equipment:

Recall the framework of “consumers” and “producers” as you plan to introduce the Gigapan to your students. An important question is: To what extent do your students need to understand how the Gigapan works? From there, you may choose from the following progression of goals. Equipment choices follow suit.

Introduction goals for consumers:

1. Learn to search and explore the Gigapan sites(s).

2. Learn to interact with the zoom feature of a photograph.

3. Learn to take a snapshot of and comment on a photograph. (See Handout Interacting with Gigapan.com)

4. Engage curiosity about the technology and the content. Generate questions, and make comments about what you are seeing. (See Scavenger Hunt below.)

5. Understand the location of the photograph by identifying the Google Earth coordinates.


The best point of entry when introducing the Gigapan to students will depend somewhat on the nature of your project, and perhaps the equipment that you are using. Teachers with Smartboards often lead students all together in a group introduction. Otherwise, teachers can project the Gigapan websites and work first, simply viewing and discussing aspects of the Gigapan image. A next step is to have students work in small groups to explore the site(s) on their own. Consider using or modifying the Scavenger Hunt featured below to guide students in exploration.

Activity 1:

Gigapan Outreach Project Student Scavenger Hunt

1.     Find an image of a store on gigapan.com

a.     Where is this store located?

b.     If provided, what are the Google Earth coordinates?

c.     Copy and paste the image’s hyperlink.

d.     What’s the first thing you notice when you look at the image?

e.     How is this store the same or different from a store you have visited?

f.      What would you like to ask a person who shops here?

2.     Find an image of a city or place you would like to visit on gigapan.com

a.     Where is this place located?

b.     If provided, what are the Google Earth coordinates?

c.     Copy and paste the image’s hyperlink.

d.     What’s the first thing you notice when you look at the image?

e.     How is this place the same or different from where you live?

f.      What would you like to ask someone your age who lives in this place?

3.     Visit Gigapan Magazine

a.     Use the arrow buttons (beside the volume) to browse past issues. 

b.     Find an issue with an interesting topic.
            c.     Why did you choose this issue?

d.     What new information did you learn about this topic?

e.     What questions do you now have about this topic?

Activity 2:

Explore the culture of your class, your school or your region: Global education seeks to increase awareness of other cultures around the globe. An excellent place to begin is to share information about ourselves and our own cultures.  In imagining ways to present your class, consider aspects of your own culture: what products, practices and perspectives are unique to you, and which ones do you share with others? Using a whiteboard or large butcher paper, create a Venn Diagram or Web and allow students to contribute their ideas while discussing their where they fit into the organizer. Consider what culture values are revealed by this practice, ie: family time, individualism, contact with nature, religion, etc.

If you were to create a photograph that captures elements of your unique culture and its values, what would you include? Where would you take the photo? Who would be in it? What activities would people be doing (practices)? What objects would you want to include (products)? What additional features would you include in order to convey your values (perspectives)? If you have a Gigapan, set up and take the photograph! Assign each student the task of locating and taking a snapshot of these elements, and writing an introductory comment.

Activity 3:

Exploring photographs from around the world: Choose a photograph on one of the Gigapan sites and explore it for its cultural content. ex: http://gigapan.com/gigapans/33193

When you are presented with a photograph, ask yourself questions about it. You might be surprised what the picture will tell you.

1. What culture is represented in the photograph?

2. What objects are in the picture, which help you know more about the culture?

3. Is there a story associated with the picture?

4. Is there a celebration associated with the picture?

5. How are the people in the picture feeling?

6. Where and by whom do you think the picture was taken?

7. Does the picture make you think the photographer was a friend or relative, or an outsider?

8. When do you think the picture was taken? (year, season, time of day)

9. What questions would you like to ask the photographer?

10. What questions would you like to ask the people in the picture?


Answer the questions above then write a short summary of what you have discovered from reviewing the photographs.

Activity 4:

Sticky Note Conversations

·       Give each student a stack of 5 differently colored Post-it Notes

·       Hang one Gigapan print on the wall and observe closely

·       Write comments on the post-its according to the following directions:

o   Green Apple: write a question you have about something in the picture

o   Yellow:  write an answer to someone else’s question

o   Orange:  Write a factual statement about the picture

o   Pink:  Write a personal statement about something in the picture

o   Neon Green:  Wild Card!  Write any comment you choose

·       Place the post it’s on the picture in the appropriate area

·       Read other’s post and discussion the experience and multiple dialogues as a class.



Dialogue Rubric: When teaching students to create meaningful dialogue in an online forum, it is often necessary to be specific about your expectations. This is in part because they may participate in other forums where the etiquette varies (such as Facebook where short quips are sufficient).

In Gigapan Dialogues, the original Gigapan image communicates ideas, and the snapshots generated also call out important details. In these ways the photo does some of the communication for us, but the comments add additional information as well as interpersonal contact.  Students need to understand who their audience could potentially be, and then they must take steps to be inclusive and interactive.


Teachers report that having specific partners to dialogue with is a best practice, and that well developed relationships with partner teachers is essential. It is important to establish a shared goal!

1. Check school calendars and establish reasonable expectations for frequency of posts.

2. Generate constant “sharables” to keep the relationship alive.

3. Support each person who posts by responding to every comment. For every NEW topic, ask students to respond to an existing comment.

4. Practice active listening and questioning: ask not just “what is this?” but also “why or how is this?”.  Comment on similarities and differences in cultures and experiences.

Sample Response Rubric:

1. Introduce self or class with a personal greeting.

2. Comment on a specific detail of the comment you are responding to.

3. Make a personal or topical connection to the comment

4. Ask a specific question to continue and further the dialogue.

GigaPan Time Machine

Each Time Machine captures a process in extreme detail over space and time, with billions of pixels of explorable resolution. Travel back in time to witness the creation of the universe. See more GigaPan Time Machines.

Gigapan Education & Research Incentive

For qualified applicants, Gigapan offers the opportunity to purchase a Gigapan EPIC or EPIC 100 with a discount of 20% off the listed price. To apply for a Gigapan education and research incentive, please contact us.