A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Prisoners of Time - Schools and Programs Making Time Work - September 1994

Image Processing for Teaching Project

University of Arizona

In the digital age, a picture is worth about a million words.

In early 1995, the Image Processing for Teaching Project at the University of Arizona, Tucson, will release a new version of a tutorial introducing the classroom use of image processing -- a package of interactive lessons and videos designed to introduce digital image processing to teachers and students.

What is digital image processing? For the generalist, it is the technology that permits scientists to manipulate images in order to highlight some features that had previously been hard, or impossible, to see. Nonscientists use this technology to look at pictures relayed back to Earth in digital form from light years away in space, or to examine the results of CAT-scans of soft tissue in the body, such as the brain.

University of Arizona scientists point out that human beings are visual learners. The human eye can process and analyze up to 100 million bits of information each second. By contrast, the spoken words absorbed by the ear amount to only a few hundred bits of information a second. In the digital age, a picture is worth about a million words.

The IPT project, begun in 1990, was created to explore the possibility that digital image processing could play a significant role in science and mathematics education -- for a visual species, the manipulation of images might provide a more attractive and effective way to teach than language-based methods. Moreover, since image processing was developed to make exploration and discovery easier in the research community, its effective use in the classroom would require abandoning old methods of teaching -- drilling and rote memorization -- in favor of encouraging creativity and problem-solving in students.

Carla McAuliffe teaches Earth Science and AP Biology at Maryvale High School in Phoenix. Since 1993, she has been using these new techniques as a "way of bringing "real" scientific experiences to my students. I emphasize that scientists make discoveries -- computers are merely tools that aid in the discovery process."

Concludes McAuliffe: "What I like most about image processing is that students are in control of their learning. My role shifts to that of facilitator."

For additional information:
Richard Greenberg/Robert Strom
Project Directors
Image Processing for Teaching Project
University of Arizona
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Tucson, AZ 85721
(606) 621-6940


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