Mobile Photography and Open, Networked Learning

  • Mark McGuire University of Otago
Keywords: Photography, mobile media, mobile learning, open education, Creative Commons, OER, phonar, phonar nation


This paper explores the intersection of photography and education at a time when both are facing significant changes, partly as a result of the increasing use of digital, mobile devices. Mobile smart phones not only include increasingly good quality built-in cameras, they also enable the immediate editing and sharing of photos through social networks. This reduces the importance of the image as an artifact and increases the social aspect of photography. Similarly, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in schools and universities provide opportunities to reconsider how and where learning happens. Mobile digital devices allow students to explore, create, communicate and collaborate with their peers in the classroom and with others beyond. Following a review of how networked smart phones are used for photography and in education, I report on two innovative photography courses that make effective use of mobile devices and social networks to empower students and enhance the learning experience. Phonar (photography and narrative) is a hybrid course that is offered to fee-paying place-based students at the University of Coventry and is also open for others to access for free. Phonar Nation is a free, non-credit course designed for teenagers and delivered through a mobile Web app with the help of community mentors. I discuss how their use of mobile media and social networks, together with collaboration and open strategies, serve as examples of how mobile devices can be effectively used to serve creative practice and extend learning.

Author Biography

Mark McGuire, University of Otago

Dr Mark McGuire is a Senior Lecturer in Design in the Department of Applied Sciences at the University of Otago, where he has worked as a Design academic since 1994. For 10 years prior to that, he operated Mediatrix Inc., a design and consulting company based in Toronto. He has a BA (Guelph), a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (Pre-Professional Architecture, Waterloo), a Masters in Information Science (Otago) and a PhD in Media Studies (Auckland). He teaches Communication Design, Experience Design, Design for Innovation, and Open Network Design. Dr McGuire’s research focuses on the interrelationship between social dynamics, interface design, digital technology, private enterprise, and education. This work covers two main themes. The first is a user-centred approach to the design and use of communication media in both physical and screen-based forms, with an emphasis on the transition from physical to digital artefacts. The second is a human-centred investigation into the development and use of digital networks for engaging in social activity, work, and education. More recently, he has been researching developments in higher education and design arising from “open” strategies and processes enabled by electronic media, digital networks and the use of open licences.

Personal Blog

How to Cite
McGuire, M. (2015). Mobile Photography and Open, Networked Learning. The Journal of Creative Technologies, (5). Retrieved from