Thursday, February 01, 2018

Finding and citing online images

I am passionate about students using online tools and standalone apps to create. I truly believe creation allows students to showcase how they have turned the content into their own knowledge. Many of these tools require the use of images for creation of the product. These images can be photos taken by the student, drawings done by the student, or images found in online collections.
It is important for students to realize which online images they have permission to use and how to give credit to the creator. Here are some links, tips, and tricks to help make this easy for them!


There are many sites that have free images and allow users to download, edit, and use the images without any attribution to the creator.
Pixabay, which includes photos, illustrations, and vector graphics, allows users to “copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist.”
Flickr: The Commons is made of images shared by member institutions that have “no known copyright restriction.” The items may be in the public domain or owned by the institution itself, which is not claiming the copyright on the images. One tip: don’t have students search in the Flickr search box at the top of the page. Look down the page for “The Commons” search box.
The Flickr group, Internet Archive Book Images, is a collection of over 5.2 million historical photos and images from the books in the Internet Archive. Each image carries a “no known copyright restriction” license, so can be used for any purpose and edited. There is no requirement to cite the images, but enough information is included in the description to do so.


Pics4Learning is targeted to student and teacher use of images and includes curriculum-related items that can be used for projects, on the Web, and in portfolios. The collection is comprised of user-contributed images. Images all include this usage information- “This image may be used by teachers and students in school and classroom activities for the express purpose of improving student educational opportunities. The photographer retains the copyright to this image.” Each image includes the full text citation for the image. I could not find this expressly stated on the site, but I am assuming, if the photographer holds the copyright to the image, the images should not be edited without the permission of the creator.
OpenPhoto is a collection of images primarily for artists, developers, students and teachers. The photographers freely license the images and the attribution code is included.
Wikimedia Commons includes millions of free images, sounds, and videos to use. The usage page states: “Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files here freely as long as they follow the terms specified by the author; this often means crediting the source and author(s) appropriately and releasing copies/improvements under the same freedom to others.” What is great about this collection is that it can be searched in many different languages, making it a tool that can be used effectively by all learners.


With the growth of the use of VR to support teaching and learning, here are some online places to find 360° images to use with a simple head-mounted display. Again, students would have to search for images they are allowed to use by checking the licensing and usage rights.
The Flickr 360°group includes almost 30,000 images with many students can download and use with a headset or a 360° viewer app.
The Flickr Equirectangular group includes images that are taken or created in the 2:1 format that make them usable with a VR headset.
I have created a Flickr group, 360° Images for Schools, to collect Creative Commons-licensed 360° images from teachers and students around the world. The collection is growing to be a depository of images that can be downloaded and used in schools.


In March of 2015, my h blog post dealt with information literacy. One section of the post included information about the Creative Commons project, and it is worth reposting here!
The Creative Commons project has helped immensely with the ease of finding images that can be used in a research report or project.  The Creative Commons project allows content producers to explicitly state how their content may be used. These creators make a determination of whether their asset may be used commercially or just non-commercially, can be transformed into a new product by someone else, and, if they allow transforming of their work, the creators can also require the person who made the changes to apply the same Creative Commons license to their new creation and allow others to edit the new work.
When creators upload images to Flickr or a video to  YouTube, they can pick the combination of permissions they want to allow for the use of their creation, and the Creative Commons license is published.
The Creative Commons site has a search engine that allows students to search by license terms, but the three places that students usually search for information and images — Google, Flickr, and Bing — also have Creative Commons-licensed image searching built right in. It works pretty much the same way in each of these tools.


It goes without saying that students should include citations for images they use in a project on a works-cited page. Another idea is to place the citation directly on the image, so it stays with the image if it is used again. This can easily be done in any of the meme apps or tools that allow text to be put on top of an image or in any traditional image-editing software. Another easy way to do this is for students to locate their images and save them on separate slides in Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Slides. Then they can use the text tool to add the citation to the picture on the slide. When done collecting and adding citations to the images, students can simply export/save the slideshow out as JPEGS and the images are all set to use!
It is rare, on most image collections sites, to be able to identify all of these components in an attribution. The student should include as much information as possible and always include the URL of the image. In Flickr, when looking at an image in a collection, the student should go back to the original image and use that URL. For instance, an image in the 360° Images for Schools group will have a URL that looks like this:
If I simply remove everything before the reference to the group, shown above in red, I am led to the creator’s Flickr account and the actual URL of the image which is which is the URL that should be used in the image citation.
In addition, in Flickr, when looking at all sizes of the photo in order to download one that is the needed size, the URL changes, too. When picking the 1600×800 version of the image, as shown below, the URL changed to 
Again, simply delete the information after the photograph’s number, as indicated in red above, and use the URL of in the citation.
There is one interesting Creative Commons image search engine designed for schools called Photos for Class. When a student does a search, and finds an image to download, the image downloads with the citation attached in a black bar at the bottom of the image (shown below). The citation includes the name of the creator, the title of the photo, and a clickable URL to the original image, and the Creative Commons license.
I think the site makes it easy for students to find images they have permission to use (even commercially) and have permission to edit. However, since the search engine only searches images that have this same license (CC BY 2.0), students are missing out on images that don’t allow editing, don’t permit commercial use, or  those requiring students to share their new work with the same license.

Do you have any favorite image sites to share or ways in which you teach students to search for and cite images? Please share on Twitter! #kathyschrock