Where and How of Using Images to Enhance…Sparking the Learning

pic_wall400 What’s the one or two questions I get asked a lot from teachers and  administrators? “Where do you get copyright free images to  use for online platforms like blogs or in presentations like  powerpoint. What types of images work better than others.”

Images are extremely important especially in this increasingly visual world. They can serve to elevate understanding  of a topic, spark strong emotions, aid memory, as well as launch deep conversations. Positioned well, they might even provide comic relief.

When using images from the web, two things are important to consider: authorship and image size. Images found on Google or sites like Flickr are most likely copyrighted (meaning owners have restricted their use – sports team logos and cartoons from animation industries come to mind). Sometimes it is not good enough to just cite the source, made worse if it is impossible to find the source. We fall into this trap when we tell our students “just google it“.  A better practice is to use images that are licensed under Creative Commons or are copyright free. When you do find a high quality (not fuzzy!) image, understanding file size is a must. Images that are destined for upload to the web should be no larger than 640 x 480 pixels (web quality size). This can also be the acceptable size for powerpoints or documents for presentation. You can find some detailed options for image editing on this site under SOFTWARE or WEB RESOURCES (image editing).

The following is a starting point (first 3 are my current favourites):

  • Pixabay – high resolution quality photos (skip the top row of images), vector graphics, illustrations (*this one is a keeper)
  • MorgueFile by Creatives for Creatives – high resolution stock photos archive (*we love this one)
  • Photos for Class – This site created by Storyboard is new. All photos use Safe Search, have automatic citation (you do nothing), licensed under Creative Commons.  (*Certainly a one-stop-shop.)
  • EduPic Graphical Resource – This site categorizes images under school related subjects
  • Pics4Learning – Site also categorizes into subjects. Images are mostly all set to 640 x 480 pixels
  • Creativity 103 – Site offers abstracts, backgrounds and design ideas to inspire


    I still prefer a good photo taken in a classroom of action in progress. Images should tell a story and have some sense of movement. Angled shots, top down or panoramas create mood, emotion and reality. With this in mind, a  stronger storytelling method is to upload just enough images for an outline of the story but not define every single detail. (Remember your goal is not to produce a “coffee table photo album”.) In other words, a few well placed shots are better than  having ten sequential images of a single event.  You leave the audience with a taste and offer opportunity for them to ask questions – “give their brain a gymnastic twist”.  Giving parents this ‘select peek’ into school life can lead to critical conversations, rather than the superficial ones…”did you have fun?” The child has a chance to fill in the gaps, increasing their storytelling skills.

I’m wondering how your photographer’s eye might have changed by this information. Interested in any thoughts you wish to share.