First off... I want to thank the #TOSAchat team of Ben, Kelly, Karly & Joe for setting up a crowdsourced Padlet where many of these resources came from. Check out the #TOSAchat on Twitter for lots of great conversations
Do you remember using Google "way back" in 1998 when the they introduced the ability to search the Web for images? It was one of those crazy, mind blowing moments, much like when I saw my house on Google Earth for the first time.
Basically, since that day we have stuck with Google for searching images. That search has become better and better, with Google adding features like search by type, color, date and more. I'll talk more about searching Google later down in this post.
We've become comfortable using Google for images for about 15 years but we often don't think about the concept of using these images for our own projects. This is the conversation about Copyright, Creative Commons and Fair Use, basically this is the "do I have the rights to use this image?". In this post I hope to give a little clarity about all of this often confusing subject plus provide some tips to help you and your students navigate your way.
But before that... an opinion piece from me on copyright.
What a mess it is deciding on if you can or can not use materials you find online! A total mess. On one hand it so easy to find images, videos, music etc. On the other, we keep hearing how serious copyright law is and it seems like you can't use any of it. When talking with people about what they actually do themselves, it seems like we live in a world of sinners - we ALL use stuff we find online.
But should we?
And is the system really responding to the real world of how people act online?
In my opinion... NO!
This quote from an L.A. Times article in 2015 embodies this I idea. The practice of what we do is not matching the laws which we are supposed to obey. Those of us in the world of education are put in precarious position. We are tasked in implementing Digital Citizenship policies and lessons but often don't practice them in our own use. Does this sound like you?
Do you only search for properly licensed images and cite your sources for all your media?
I'm assuming not.
Do you feel like a little hypocritical when we tell our students what to do when we ourselves don't practice them all the time?
Oh... And trust me. I have not been a saint.
Here's my copyright story. I've been dinged before for uploading videos to my YouTube account for my students and for some of them I would get pulled down for copyright violation. Then, a few years ago I tried to make a video for our school's faculty fundraiser show with the song Come Sail Away, from Styx. We clearly we're doing this for parody but used the song without permission. Upon uploading the song to YouTube I ended up getting notified by them and received a third strike which sent me to copyright School. Copyright School means that you have to watch this cartoony Copyright YouTube video and answer the questions correctly and still be on probation for a year. I petitioned this to YouTube but still received a notice that I was not in compliance.
What's odd though is that they did not pull it down or take off the audio which is often done.
And here's my video if you'd like to see it. BTW... I Love THIS SONG!
This is just another example which makes myself and so many other people frustrated with the existing copyright system.
This is tough, Doing the right thing has become hard!
~ Hard for classroom teachers who are making their own lessons and looking for resources.
~ Hard for students make their own projects.
I justread recently this interesting comic book which is all about the frustration of copyright for those trying to make documentary films. Reading this makes me realize what a weird state we are in.
What we need more than anything is a revamping of the copyright system. This is not easy and will require everyone at the table of this conversation, legislators, content creators and technology companies. But until then... we can just try to manage.
WHERE TO FIND IMAGES
Although many of us rely ONLY on Google, there are quite a few other places to look for images online. And when we even talk about "searching the web" for images its important to understand that Google's search results to not always bring you back everything. So when doing an image search you may need to look elsewhere for different results.
I’ve written in previous posts about how I use Flickr to look for images. Unlike Google which is a search engine, Flickr is a site designed for people to host and share images. So, all the images there were uploaded by users who wish to share them. But be careful, that does not mean that you can USE them. There is a difference between view and use. Much like a museum, there is stuff there that you can look at but can’t take home! So, with that said, you will need to check the permission for any of the images which would like to use. Also, I personally would NOT recommend you sending your students here. Since it is a gallery, you may get some “artsty” images, if you know what I mean!
OK… enough chatter… let’s get to the links. Below are a list of sites which all have images that are free to copy, save and use in you and your student’s work.
Cool right? But hey, let’s be honest. You have probably noticed that any free collection of stuff that you can use freely is probably lacking something. And yes, that is true. You’ll notice generally a lack of choice and quality. This is what often pushes many people to good ole’ Google Image search, it's the “yeah, I found some images on those free sites but none of them really worked for me”. But try spending some time and work on modifying your searches, so that you get back different results. For example I wanted to change the banner image on my site here to get something a little more techie. I searched for “technology” and then “digital” but then when more specific with just “laptop” and below is the image which I found. I liked that I could envision this image being cropped to a horizontal banner. So this speaking of HOW to search will take us to the next section
HOW TO FIND IMAGES
Since we all at some point find ourselves using that Google Image search, let’s take a look deeper to see how you can filter your results on usage rights. Earlier I mentioned that you can change your searches based on modifiers and one of these is usage rights. For example, look at this search I did for you CELL PHONES
I went to the Advanced feature and then four different levels came up. Since copyright and fair use isn’t easy, there is not a button for “YES, I can use this” or “NO, don’t touch, only look!”. Here is the how Google explains what each of these means:
Lastly, if you are interested in a very informative, as easy to comprehend guide to what you can and should use regarding media on the net, then check out this guide from Gail Dessler. It is called "Can I Use That". You can also follow Gail on Twitter.
WHY SHOULD I USE IMAGES
Lastly, here is what I think is the most important WHY.... the WHY use images at all?
But first, look at the two images below:
Why do you think cities are now using the right image for crosswalk?
One main reason was to make sure that the message "TO WALK" was accessible to everyone, those who can not read and those who can't read English.
Regardless of reading ability though, we can all agree though that the VISUAL is much easier to COMPREHEND. This is helps to demonstrate that humans comprehend images much faster and easier than words. In education we focus on literacy so much but we often overlook VISUAL LITERACY.
Here's another example: which of these two are easy to understand?
We are visual creatures.
Have you looked at statistics much? Argh... boring!
But what about INFOGRAPHICS!
For example, I could talk to you on and on about how humans are visual creatures and that the neurons in our mind are responsible for blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. See, I bet you even stopped reading this already and looked at the infographic below!
Now as I teacher I would find myself just collecting images. In my lessons I would often feel like I am flying through all of them just so that I could give the students the opportunity to see and analyze them all. But it was a few things which helped me learn that less can be more.
One was Smartboard which was installed in my room and the other was this book called Presentation Zen.
I know that Smarboards are not the flavor of the week anymore in Ed Tech, but it was actually the program Smart Notebook which got my thinking away from the PowerPoint world which I was in. I will talk more about this in a later post though.
The second piece, the book you see here, helped be realize the power that less can be more and it more about the impact you make not about the material you cover. It is not an "education" book per se, but it will help you look at the way in which you do any presentation. Below are a two passages I think are pretty powerful.
So, here is a quick example of how I changed my teaching to focus on visual literacy and analysis instead of the Death By PowerPoint.
This was the text heavy, PowerPoint which I and so many others used for so long. Research shows over and over, that audiences can't read and listen at the same time.
I ultimately switched to this. What, you ask? Isn't that just a painting? Yes it is. Now what happens though is HOW I use it to teach. I trained myself to use this image as a guide to have students analyze and question and have myself navigate them through all those same teaching points that I did before. But now... each lesson was organic, driven by their analysis and questions and was more of a dialogue. What was needed for me was the perfect image and my ability to let go of the linear, lecture driven style.
I'll have future posts about more image teaching strategies that any teacher can use.