170 Million Photos: Learning with Flickr Creative Commons

TeachMeet GA 2011
Shelley Paul, Woodward Academy (Atlanta, GA) - shelley.paul (at) gmail (dot) com
Twitter: @lottascales
Short URL: http://bit.ly/flickrtmga
Take My Class: http://k12learning20.wikispaces.com

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Session Description:
Learn how Creative Commons licensing allows you and your students to use and adapt others' works to support teaching, learning and creativity. In this 15-minute session, I will provide a quick introduction to Creative Commons and show you how to explore (and exploit!) Flickr CC, which has over 170 million images. I will also point you to some Flickr resources, tools and toys that can help you make the most of this amazing collection.

What is Creative Commons?

CC is an evolution in copyright that allows creators to decide how their original works may be used and adapted by others. (More about CC plus a word about "traditional' Copyright).

Wanna Work Together? (3:00)


What is Flickr / Flickr CC?

In a nutshell, Flickr is the Web's most popular photo-sharing site. Using Flickr, users can upload, organize, tag, publish and share their photos online.
Here's a little insight from our friends at CommonCraft.

Online Photo Sharing in Plain English (2:51)



Flickr How-To

Properly Attribute Images

  • Always include name of photo and photographer plus a link to image on Flickr.
  • Be sure to bookmark/save image URLs:
    • Paste URLs and photographer/photo name in Word doc, Google doc or on a Wiki page.
    • Drag photo URLs to a folder on your desktop. (This just helps you find them later to download and cite).
    • Save to your browser as favorites or bookmarks… whatever works.
    • Create a Flickr Gallery (super easy but may not work for all photos; must be logged into Flickr) (Example: VHC)
    • Can also “Favorite" photos (click the star) if you are logged into Flickr.
    • Shelley's Preferred Method: Save photo URLs to Delicious (may soon be defunct)
      - Delicious trick for collecting and citing images (Example: VHC)
      HOW TO: Save each photo to your delicious account using a special tag for that project. Type the photo name in the Title field and the photographer's name in the Notes field. Share the URL for your delicious tag wherever you publish your project.
  • When creating a slideshow/photo album/digital story, use Powerpoint to create an "image attribution" slide. Include as the final slide in the presentation. The URLs will work when uploaded to Slideshare.

Third-Party Flickr Search Options




Flickr in the Classroom

Collections of Ideas


Individual Lessons/Examples




Other Flickr Goodness


Additional Flickr Resources



Tools for Creating Slideshows & Digital Stories







Get to Know Creative Commons

photo by Franz Patzig
photo by Franz Patzig
One of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 is the creation and sharing of user-created content, and tools like Flickr, YouTube, Scribd, Thinkfree, Archive.org (and hundreds of others) make uploading, sharing and obtaining digitized content a snap. But with the free exchange of content comes the responsibility of determining how it is shared, how it may be used, and how to properly credit the author or creator. As teachers, it is our job to model academic integrity as well as teach it to our students.

Enter Creative Commons, the best thing to happen to Copyright since, well, ever...

"Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally"
"Creative Commons, since December 2002, provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from 'All Rights Reserved' to 'Some Rights Reserved.'"

Currently, there are millions of photos, books, songs, poems, artworks, videos and other media shared on the web under Creative Commons licenses. You can search for all kinds of CC-licensed materials using the Creative Commons Search tool or by browsing the CC Content Directories, and Google recently announced that is has added a Creative Commons image search feature.

One of the most exciting developments in Web 2.0/Creative Commons culture for educators is the OER Commons -- a site where users can find and contribute to the collection of thousands of Open Educational Resources. The most highly-rated content in the OER Commons comes from the MIT Open Courseware (OCW) project -- an online repository of free lecture notes, exams, and other resources (including, increasingly, audio and video) from more than 1800 courses spanning MIT's entire curriculum. MIT recently announced a subsection of OCW called Highlights for High School.

Cool, huh?


external image best+image+code+of+best+practices+cover+ML_0.JPG A Note About "TRADITIONAL" Copyright

Creative Commons is an amazing evolution in copyright, but it does not magically erase the need for proper citation, and ethical use of intellectual property. Neither does it solve our confusion about "traditional" copyright, which still applies to most works of art and intellectual property. What to do, what to do? Well, I am glad you asked.

The Media Education Lab at Temple University has worked with a number of expert groups to develop a newly released Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Education, which "helps educators gain confidence about their rights to use copyrighted materials in developing students' critical thinking and communication skills." EVERY educator should read this guide, share it with colleagues and practice applying these guidelines thoughtfully with their students. These resources not only diminish copyright confusion, but provide educators and students with tools to help them fully exercise their fair use rights when using media for transformative, critical thinking purposes. The site provides case studies and teaching resources, too.


More on Creative Commons



SIDEBAR: Tagging and Folksonomies

So, online photo-sharing has been around for about a decade, but Web 2.0 sites like Flickr offer more than just a place to store your photos and share them with family and friends through email. Flickr is a searchable, social, user-driven community. The social power of Flickr comes from tagging, which is the process of adding meaningful keywords to photos** (or any type of content) to make them searchable. If you’ve ever used a subject heading in a library catalog or written names or places on the back of a photograph, you’re already familiar with tagging! Flickr's public photo tags are visible to the whole community, so the entire collection becomes organized and categorized, searchable and browsable. Flickr users can also comment on each others' photos and create Groups to develop photo pools (shared photo collections) and have discussions about any topic or interest.

Photo tagging is an example of a folksonomy, an important Web 2.0 concept that refers to the collaborative organizing of content by everyday users. Unlike a highly structured, professionally developed and controlled taxonomy (such as library subject headings), a folksonomy evolves over time, as more users add more tags to more content. Tagging is a bit messy, can be very individualized, and is non-hierarchical (i.e. there are no "sub-tags"); For example, a photo of your dog may be tagged as dog, beagle, rover and even cute if that means something to you. (Also, tags cannot have spaces, e.g. chocolate chip cookie is actually three tags, whereas chocolate_chip_cookie (or chocolatechipcookie) is one tag).

The concept of tagging is not unique to Flickr. Many Web 2.0 services incorporate tagging to add user-defined value and organization. Bloggers often tag their posts, and clicking on their tags may take you to a listing of all of their own posts tagged as such, or possibly a listing of ALL KNOWN blog entries tagged as such, e.g. through a service such as Technorati, which currently tracks over 100 million blogs. Social Bookmarking tools such as del.icio.us allow users to collectively store and organize Internet bookmarks/favorites using tags, so that everyone has access to each others' public bookmarks.


SIDEBAR: Visual Literacy is Essential


For our students to be visually literate in the 21st Century, they must be able to "interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st Century media in ways that advance thinking, decision-making, communication and learning" (Engauge - Digital Age Literacies ).

As you explore Flickr, I hope you will consider how you might incorporate more visual literacy-building activities into your teaching, and also how you can teach your students about Creative Commons, because, believe me, they don't know.

Here is a brief outline of reasons for Communicating Visually in the 21st Century from David Jakes; Please visit JakesOnline for suggestions about using online resources (including Flickr) to improve students' visual literacy skills.

You may also want to check out Dan Meyer's (dy/dan) blog series about design and visual literacy, in which he ultimately challenges educators to submit a four-slide presentation "selling" themselves a la the UC Graduate School of Business. The submissions and the dialogue are both provocative and compelling. There are four posts in the series: Chicago Hope / Misunderstanding Chicago / Contest: The Four-Slide Sales Pitch / Four-Slide Sales Pitch: Final Entries (If you are short on time, just check out the final entries -- they are pretty cool).