October 15, 2012
School is in full swing. Students are writing papers, doing math homework, and searching the web for images to include in their projects. In their search for the perfect image they are probably using Google to find that picture. They type in their subject, see an image they like and save it to their computer to use in their project. Homework completed. But did they check the usage rights?
This month's article is devoted to finding images and understanding image rights. I will not cover a complete lesson on Creative Commons, but will share sites and ways to find images with the right usage licenses for this digital age. Along the way I will cover a few copyright issues, but the goal is to provide useful ways to find that perfect photo for the class project.
Let's start with the first tool students use, Google. Under the "Advance Search" option there is a "usage rights" filter at the bottom of the page. The most important option for the classroom is the "free to use or share." These images are licensed to be used in different ways, Power Points, blogs, or a poster for the classroom. The first aspect you will notice is that the number of images is drastically reduced. In most cases this is not an issue, but when the options don't work for the student there are other tools and sites that may provide better results.
I use Flickr to find images licensed under creative commons for presentations. Like Google, there is an advance search option to filter images by Creative Commons.
All online photo management sites have an option for users to set their licenses for their photos. I happen to use Flickr for my own photographs (which are all licensed for use) so I tend to search for photos from Flickr, but you can find photos under creative commons at the site you like.
The Commons on Flickr is a project to create a public photo collection. Institutions like the Library of Congress and NASA (to name a few) have provided images under a new usage guideline "no known copyright restrictions." Most of this collection is older photography, great for history classes.
Another great site for images of historical value is The Internet Archive. In fact it is a great site for music, video, documents, and other cultural items in digital form. A warning, this is a vast and unfiltered collection. It takes a little work, but you can find great content for the classroom.
Finding or creating images for presentations is a crucial part of the classroom today. It is a great time to enhance digital citizenship by sharing with students these sites and options. To help I have started a Symbaloo webmix (CC Content) that has a collection of sites to help find or create images, music, clip art, and icons for the classroom. If you know of a great site I can add to the webmix, let me know by email or Twitter (jdog90).