What can technology help make real for us?

So many wonderful people and stories exist in history, so many things to learn and so many relevant events. Yet, looking through old black and white pictures just does not feel ... real? My primary learning sense is vision and details I pick up have a major impact on my interest and what I retain. While the content of black and white pictures excite me, the actual image always leaves me feeling that these were not real people or not real places, they were more characters and stage settings in an interesting story, nothing very memorable.

I stumbled upon someone's work on the internet that was interesting. He has worked for well over 100 hours trying to colorize pictures of our presidents using digital tools like Photoshop. Now, I have never been a fan of presidents of any party or time other than maybe 4-6 of them, but I was amazed watching this video. I found myself stopping the video as it transitioned from black and white to the colorized version and just freezing the video. It was as if I was seeing this person for the first time, as a real person, with real moles, real freckles, and very real wrinkles. I would almost see/read from the image that there were struggles, there were joys, there were passions...there was life! Most of all, I wanted to meet these people for the first time in my life.

Unless you are a buff on presidents, most of us can watch this video and think, "OMG, really? This guy was a president?" or "Wonder if he was a sour puss as much as he looks like in this image?" and some may even think, "Get out! How the heck did someone with that kind of icky stage presence or appearance get elected to office?"

I have viewed our presidents many times in my life in black and white images. Never have I really viewed those older black and white images as depictions of real people, with families, stories, challenges and personal successes. Simply colorizing the pictures and adjusting the lighting, contrast and all that other photo tech junk just changed me in a very interesting way.

I'm curious what this video might evoke in you? Please feel free to stop the video often, go back a bit ... and check it out a few times. Does the photographic technology used add anything for you?


Maybe others have had recent experiences with technology that have impacted their perspectives about a subject? I have many all the time in my line of work and I will share more every once in awhile, but I would love to read about the experiences of others and would appreciate being able to experience some of those technology moments that really stand out to you. 


Hey Ed,

When growing up I read biographies written for youth on many of the presidents. I could cite their order by heart. While I was familiar with many of the black and white photos, and for that reason, the photos did not seem strange to me, still, the colorization, added an initial real-life feel that evoked in me another (indefinable) sense of their lives.

I'm wondering if visualization technology exists to enable one to take a photo of oneself that would project forward featural changes 20 years in the future, or could project backward 20 years into one's younger self.  The accuracy of the latter (which would be provable) could be a way of accessing the likeliness of the future projection.

Off-hand, I do not know how this would fit in with ABE pedagogy, but it could be interesting and could evoke a fun way for students to play around with technology.


George Demetrion 

I would love to hear others thoughts on this subject matter; however, I would mostly like to hear how we could use this type of thinking in our Adult ED classes. I mean, the verbiage, in itself, overwhelms students, but adding these unfamiliar black and white photos can make it even more confusing. Would converting those photos to color help their understanding or could it possibly hinder their ability to pass  certain tests? (Especially learning disabled students). I would love to see some research on this topic.

I poked around a bit and found some websites that use algorithms to colorize black and white photos. While the quality of the finished image is not up to what was posted in this thread previously, I did think there was a shifting of mood or connection in the black and white images I tried. 

Here is a link to one site. I like this one because it allowed either uploading the image from a file or simply hyperlinking to an online image. Please note that when you want to link to an image, it is often best to right click on the image you want and select "Open Image In New Tab". Very often the images we find are thumbnail, or preview, versions of the image and by opening the image in a new tab we not only get the full image, we get a web address that points to just the image and not the whole page full of information. 

Thoughts on implementation in classes: 

Any presentation learners offer may benefit from colorized photos, especially if any historic pictures are involved. 

Any explorations that depict a variety of human conditions or environments would benefit colorization.

I wonder if empathy could be built up with analysis of both black and white and colorized versions of people from varied cultures. Could people feel more connection or would it cause more distraction, particularly with popular black and white images?

I agree with Ashley that seeing some research on how colorized photos or illustrations impact learners in assessment and in the learning process. Our world and workplaces are in 3d color. Many entertainment options today are in HD color at least. Meanwhile, educational material remains extremely similar to what was produced in the early 1970s when teachers had to mimeograph copies to share with students. Maybe there might be some disconnect? 

I just tried that site out. That is super cool! I am definitely going to save this one. Thank you so much!  I would think a tool like that could be use for a sort of writing prompt or critical thinking activity. I am definitely going to be brainstorming some idea. Maybe a picture of the Great Depression in black and white and what thoughts or emotions it invokes versus the same image in color. Does it enhance those thoughts or emotions? How does color impact how we think or view things? This is great. Thank you so much.

I stumbled upon a digital game today that really got me thinking about my desire to meditate and the many resources proclaiming the positive benefits of meditation. I think about how much stress and anxiety so many I work with are experiencing and watching this short review of the program helped me feel like this game may help many. The game is available on STEAM (a free gaming platform for computers and laptops running Window or Apple operating systems) and often runs from $10 to $15 depending on what sales are going on. 

Please take four minutes and think about how the technology in this game, and all the research around meditation that went into making it, can positively impact people to help establish positive habits. Do you feel it would offer such assistance? Would it work for you? Do you know of others that would greatly appreciate having support like this available? 

Meditation is just one of the many habits I want to get into my life. Yoga, daily walking and a number of others are all on the list. What technologies or programs are people seeing out there that are helping people not only become motivated to try these activities, but the technology aims to formulate positive habits and uses a very systematic approach to create habits? I will surely be looking for other specific examples and sharing if I find any, and I hope you can share whatever you find as well. 

If you disagree that programs like this can be effective for people, can you share your perspectives and thoughts? What would be missing? If you could contact the author of the product, what would you suggest to "fix" it to become a better tool?

I may try this meditation game/program out and if I do I will be sure to share any results over time.