Written by Wade Gegan
Photos, logos, graphics and images are an important part of any multimedia creation that students produce. A few well placed, high quality images can transform class work from amateur to spectacularly professional. So, unless you plan on taking your own photographs or creating your own artwork, finding legitimate Creative Commons images is an essential digital skill.
To help students (and teachers) navigate and understand the often confusing space that is digital copyright, here are five tools that we recommend using to to search, reference, attribute and download Creative Commons images.
1. Photo Pin
Photo Pin is one of the best tools for using with students for both the results it returns and its focus on correct image attribution. My favorite feature is to sort results by what they call ‘interestingness’, this places the images that just look great first. When selecting an image, you are given links to download all image sizes as well as a ready made html block giving the correct reference and attribution to the image creator.
Iconfinder is a little different to other Creative Commons image searches as it specializes in returning icons and logos. The tools is especially useful if students are looking for well known brand logos or are trying to find generic glyphs and symbols to place in their work. I find the detailed filtering options especially useful in Iconfinder, allowing you to refine results by styles such as flat, handdrawn, 3D and much more.
Pixabay is a very popular image search tool among educators due to its huge catalogue of hand picked photos, vectors and art illustrations. One feature that can help students think outside the box when searching, is the ability to browse by tags. This means students can find an image close to what they want and then click associated tags to find similar images.
4. Flickr (Creative Commons)
The original and some would say the best source for Creative Commons images, Flickr has an amazing selection of amateur and professional Creative Commons photos available for use. Although the level of filtering and browsability may not be as full featured as Photo Pin or Pixabay, the interface is beautiful and slick and it is a wonderful experience to browse.
Created originally for graphic and web designers, Freepik’s image collection revolves more around vectors, icons and illustrations. These graphic designs and often modern artwork can be used directly by students, but are also an excellent source of inspiration if creating their own digital pieces.