As educators, it’s critical that we help our learners become responsible digital citizens. At the same time, there is no doubt that in the Digital Age we also want students working with multiple forms of media as they create and demonstrate their learning. This can be a tricky path to walk since media such as images, video and audio are so easy to locate and put to use. Teaching students which digital media are okay to use and which are not has to be part of the work we do as educators, and that begins with modeling this behavior ourselves.
Ideally, we would teach students to create their own photos, videos and audio (more on that tomorrow), but at minimum we need to help them find great media that they can use in their classwork and online without being concerned that they are breaking copyright laws. Fortunately, there are lots of websites that are devoted to helping people find those types of media. Check out this post for an annotated list of just a few of them.
For our challenge today, we will focus on finding images that can be used freely in learning objects. It helps to have a basic understanding of copyright as it applies to education as well as an understanding of Creative Commons licensing. If you feel you need a background on this, I recommend the following:
Once you are familiar with what you are looking for, there are several places where you can access Creative Commons and Royalty Free Images. One way to locate Creative Commons images is to modify a Google Image Search. If I wanted to find a picture of a shark, for example, I would do my normal search, then use the advanced search menu in Google to define the Usage Rights that I am looking for. Typically, I select the “Labeled for Reuse with Modification” option. That way, I know that not only can I use the image, but I can also modify it to my purposes.
A slightly more efficient method is to use the Creative Commons search tool. This tool allows you to search many online media repositories such as Flickr to find digital resources including images.
My favorite tool for locating Creative Commons images is PhotoPin. You may find that it is blocked in some schools because it will bring up some images that would not be appropriate for all audiences. In the EVSC, we block PhotoPin for students and require a teacher override for faculty to access this tool. The extra click is a bit annoying, but totally worth it.
What I love about PhotoPin is that it has the simplicity of a Google Search and it yields only CC licensed images from Flickr. I also love that it by default sorts the results by “interestingness. ” I can also choose to search by “Relevance” and “Recent.”
One thing to be aware of is that sometimes the first few images that appear are sponsored images from commercial sources. I typically scroll past these because they take me out of the PhotoPin environment. I almost always find an image that fits my purpose via PhotoPin. Once I do, I simply hover over the image, and I choose “Get Photo.”
I am then given a selection of sizes for the image as well as an attribution link that I can include in my project or on my site. All I have to do is download the version of the image that fits my needs. Even cooler, I can get an embed code for my website or blog that sets up the attribution nicely for me.
If PhotoPin is blocked for you, there are plenty of other places on the web to find good images to use in projects. Here is a short list:
- FreeDigitalPhotos.net – (Website is no longer available)
Explore some of the resources above, and in the comments below share how you might use them in your classroom. We’d also love to know if there are other free-media resources that you use, how you teach your students to use media responsibly on the web, and what what types of projects lend themselves to using these resources.