Helping or Enabling?

This week we were asked to select a Creative Common image to use in one of the classes that we teach. Well, that proved difficult as I am in the middle of MAP testing so I am not working with students very much this week. So I thought about when I have used images recently and when I would in the future and I decided to take a look at the logos that I have created for our ES Portal (in-house only, sorry no link).

I was asked to create a place that could become a one-stop shop for teachers. In doing so I used the skills mentioned in last week’s blog post Cut the CRAP out of Design without really understanding what I was doing. I also did something else that I didn’t realize until I was given this assignment that I had in fact used Creative Common images.

When I double checked my images, I realized that the way that I found the images to use was to use the search option inside of Google Drawings, which only searches for images labeled for commercial reuse with modification.

But when I decided to double check these images by following the link that appears at the bottom of the search windows. I found out that the images I used were, in fact, Creative Commons licensed so that I did, in fact, find correct images to use. Go Me!

It is always nice to find out that you actually did the correct thing with images.

I know that because of working in a school we have a sort of “get out of jail free” card. If you would like to read about Fair Use here on the US Copyright Law Page. Here is an excerpt of the Fair Use page. One thing I did learn from trying to read the Copyright Law is that Educational Institutions are not exempt carte blanche. For example, they are not allowed to profit from the use of someone’s copyrighted material.

Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes:  Courts look at how the party claiming fair use is using the copyrighted work, and are more likely to find that nonprofit educational and noncommercial uses are fair.  This does not mean, however, that all nonprofit education and noncommercial uses are fair and all commercial uses are not fair; instead, courts will balance the purpose and character of the use against the other factors below.  Additionally, “transformative” uses are more likely to be considered fair.  Transformative uses are those that add something new, with a further purpose or different character, and do not substitute for the original use of the work.

I think that we as educators actually can make it difficult for students because of this thought that “We are in Education so it’s okay for us.” We aren’t held to the same account as the students will be when they are writing papers as they get older. Because of the exemption for educators, we don’t create the habits in ourselves that we can use to teach students. So we spend years showing them the wrong way to do something only then to force them to change in a very short time, usually in high school.

That is why I was glad to find resources like Dustin Senos’s Stock Photo List. As Dustin says bookmark this site because you will need it. I am going to make a more conscious effort to not only use Creative Commons images but to encourage teachers to do the same. That is the main thing that we as educators have to do, make the effort to search out and find images with Creative Commons licenses so that we can show our students what they should be doing in their work.

Another thing that I found that I can use to help teachers is this visual resource from The Visual Communication Guy. I would show you a picture of the visual but I do not have a license. Though he does say when asked that a teacher can use it in their classroom! I think that this visual is simple yet effective. It is easy to understand and could be used with younger students.

The main thing that we try to teach our students is that if at all possible to take any pictures themselves. This is not only for copyright reasons but also because we are trying to get them to learn how to create not just consume. To create resources to show what they have learned, not just regurgitate what they have read. That being said, taking your own images is not always possible. So when we can’t use images that we take we need to make sure that students know easy, simple ways to find Creative Commons images. Easy and Simple being the keyword.

Another resource that I would add to Dustin’s list is Photos for Class which a fellow teacher used this in her class recently. I think that the biggest issue that students have with these types of services is that they don’t always have images that our students want to use. That is where we as educators have to manage expectations and wants against reality. As well as encourage creativity in our students. If you can’t “grab” an internet image, what could you do instead? This is maybe the more important question that we should be asking our students.

Even after all of the reading and research on this topic, I am still wondering does use of a logo as a link to the site count? For example, you will notice the PYP and MAP logos on our site. Is that okay? The PYP one links to our evidence collecting site for our PYP evaluation visit that is forthcoming and the MAP one leads to the website that our MAP coordinator has created to help teachers remember how to proctor their MAP tests. I think the same rules probably apply, good thing it is being used by an educational institution!

I think that all and all we as teachers need to slow down and consider what we are doing? By finding a quick image are we showing our students the reality of what finding a good Creative Commons image is like or are we showing them good ways to cheat? Are we helping them or enabling them to do the wrong thing? Something to think about.

2 thoughts on “Helping or Enabling?

  1. I love posts about photos! I LOVE Unsplash as a site for gorgeous photography – probably more useful for teacher presentations if you are going to Zen your powerpoint. They have a great ‘credits’ button if you are posting to your blog which is “not necessary but appreciated” if you want to give some recognition to the photographer. I use these photos a lot in Keynote and so I just take a screenshot of that credit button and add it to the slide. I love Adobe Spark Video and Adobe Spark Page, and Adobe Spark Post for their MASSIVE library of icons and photographs. They collate the credits for any photos or icons you choose to use and you can edit the credits if you choose to add from elsewhere. Unlike Photos for Class, kids can almost always find what they are looking for and it is all CC licensed. The US law that you mentioned and “fair use” doesn’t always apply outside the US. One of my colleagues in Germany was fined for violating GEMA rules for use of a graphic without permission. I think the more we raise awareness the better. I sat in another presentation just a few weeks ago where an image was used with the stock photo watermark still visible – makes my skin crawl! I am also a huge fan of encouraging kids to take their own photo. I have had kids searching for “kids using iPads” and I say what about just taking a photo of you kids using iPads! Thanks for all the reminders in this post!


  2. @terSonya I recently was shown the power of the Adobe Spark Post site. I think it is one that I will use more often and you are so right the images are amazing. Thank you for your feedback on some of the sites it is always good to know which ones to try first!

    Yes I think people default to US rules but forget that there may be other laws locally that can affect you as well.

    I totally know what you mean about watermarks I have seen that before by professionals and I am always like, “Hello you are a paid speaker, get your stuff in order!”

    Also so true about teachers wanting to “find” images that they can create easily in their classrooms. I think that they are sometimes worried about using kid’s images but there are ways around that as well. And if you are worried the quality then take the time to set up the image you want. The kids don’t care, they love being photographed!


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