Activity Types: Digital Collections

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Getting "Handy" in the classroom with technology integration!

What is a Digital Collection?
Collecting samples of nature, such as insects, flowers, seeds, or tree samples, into a presentation collection has long been a tool that scientists use to document natural phenomenon. A digital collection is a collection of related items in digital format. Each photo entry consists of a digital picture that has been taken with the digital camera as well as information that describes that particular sample recorded in the notes for that entry. Students are then able to analyze or compare the digital images and recorded notes of the images in the collection to establish patterns or dissimilarities.

Advantages for use in the classroom:

  • Individual or small group activity
  • Students can easily “pool” their collections into one large digital collection without duplicating entries
  • Identification process not hindered by samples changing shapes, colors, or textures in the collection

Disadvantages for use in the classroom:

  • Identification process may be more difficult using a digital record than a sample of the real artifact
  • Students uneasy with collaboration processes may need support for working with others to create a good collection

Check out the example, Flowering Plants of Texas, which was completed using PowerPoint. Other digital collections can be found at Library and Archives Canada, the Cornell University, or Historic Pittsburg.

Copyright 2002-2011 Handy4Class Project


Candace Figg, PhD
Brock University
Faculty of Education, Teacher Education Department
500 Glenridge, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1
(905.688.5550, x5347)


Jenny Burson, EdD
University of Texas at Austin (retired)
Education Department, Curriculum and Instruction
jburson@mail.utexas.edu