Saturday, June 17, 2006

Free to use... with Flickr

I'm not sure if this is really a part of my irregular series on educational uses of Flickr. It's certainly not the next post I intended to make but it is about Flickr and educational stuff, so I guess it must be the third in the series. :-) I was talking to some secondary school teachers yesterday about Flickr (among other things) and it was their reaction to something I said that prompted this post.

I was being enthusiastic (also known as ranting) about the educational potential of Flickr notes (see a previous post). I was demonstrating different uses of notes: teacher drawing attention to an aspect of an image; teacher giving a clickable link to further information; teacher asking a question; pupils sharing something they've noticed or learned; pupils asking questions; pupils highlighting areas of danger in a photograph; etc. I also talked about geotagging (which is what I meant to talk about next and will feature in a blog post soon) but that's not what made them sit up and take note either.

When I mentioned that all the pictures in my presentation had come from Flickr and that they were copyright free -- that's when they sat up and took notice!

originally uploaded by bhell13.
Now, before I go any further, I know that it is not accurate to say that Flickr photographs are "copyright free". However, many are made available under Creative Commons Licences and if people have not heard of Creative Commons, I find it easier to say, "copyright free" and then, once I have their attention, explain what Creative Commons actually means. :-)

I hope I didn't give the impression that all the photographs on Flickr have a Creative Commons licence (I was pushed for time) but a phenomenal number do! The Flickr Creative Commons page describes four different aspects of the licence that can be applied to Flickr photos. Perhaps the simplest is the Attribution Licence. This means the photographer will:
let others copy, distribute, display, and perform [the photographer's] copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give [the photographer] credit.
At the time of writing there are over one and a half million photos under an Attribution Licence! However, the largest number of photographs (almost 4.7 million) are available under an Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs Licence. Roughly speaking, this means you can use a photograph as long as you give the photographer credit, do not sell it or use it to make money, and do not alter it in any way.

If you go to a Flickr Creative Commons Licence page, (e.g. the Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs Licence page) you can search for photographs with that particular licence. Brilliant!
originally uploaded by 4blueeyes.
I love Flickr Creative Commons searches. When I want an image to illustrate a blog post or a presentation, it has rarely let me down. I like that you can enter fairly abstract terms and find good, concrete, visual illustrations. For example, in a previous post I wanted an image that said, "help". In the end I went for a photograph of a help key, but I was very tempted to use this image of Alec.

So, why not give Flickr Creative Commons pictures a try the next time you want an image for a worksheet, or to use as a stimulus for creative writing, or to support a discussion task, or to illustrate a point, or...? You get the picture? :-)

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Anne Davis said...

It has only been recently that I have started using the Flickr Creative commons searches but they are perfect for teachers to use and this is something teachers need and want - the ability to find dynamic pictures that are "just perfect" for a unit they are teaching or a concept they are trying to get across.

When you talked about your secondary school teachers sitting up and taking notice - I thought that's it! Good images are something teachers are constantly on the look out for their teaching and copyright issues are a problem. You started your post with not being sure if this is a part of your irregular series on educational uses of Flickr but this is a wonderful post that needs to be the starting point for learning educational uses through services such as Flickr. I know it took me more time than I care to admit to grasp the Creative Commons part (and I'm still learning!) I can't tell you how much time I've spent trying to understand about just how to give credit. For instance, is just pointing back to the photographer enough?, should we post on their picture site that we are using it?, etc. Your explanations and the way you give concrete examples is exactly what educators need. Once they understand, they may join the community and there will be even more images. Another thing is to let them think about contacting the person who has copyright and ask permission. I did that recently and it was a wonderful experience. There's lots to learn and think about in this area. You are really helping my learning curve as well as, I'm sure, many others. The educational possiblilites are incredible.

It may be an impossible task, but I wonder if there is some way we can share pictures we find that fit into some generally accepted educational categories???

Are you up for a Flickr guide?? Similar to your terrific guide?

Sorry for this kind of scattered long comment but my brain is just jumping around the possibilities. Thanks for helping me "Get the picture!" with such a great post! :-)

john said...

Grat stuff David.
It would be nice if flickr had a page that you could just link to for attribution, I guess linking to flickr would do, unless the picture is one you have legally altered(I've used cc pictures for a couple of blog headers).
I'd also like to flickr to provide feeds for creative commons tags. It would be easy then to provide a pile of photos for children to use. This could work if flickr auto-tagged cc content.

David said...

Anne, what can I say? Thank you for taking the time to type such an extensive and encouraging response. It's when I get comments like this that I remember why I enjoy blogging so much. :-)

I must admit, I have never specifically asked a photographer for permission (since not having to do that is partly what CC is all about). However, it occurs to me that it would cost me very little in time and effort to leave a comment on the page of the photos I use. It wouldn't have to be extensive, just a, "thank-you for CCing this photo," and perhaps a brief, "and this is how I used it." I know how much I enjoy getting comments on a blog post, so I think I would like it if someone did that to me if they used one of my photographs. Do unto others... I think I may go back and do this retrospectively for some of the images I've used recently. Thanks for this idea.

Sharing prictures in "generally accepted educational categories" could be tricky because of the lack of general concensus about anything among teachers. :-) Also, the images I find most useful are the slightly off-beat ones, like "Help" in this post which don't easily fit into an "educational category". However, I wonder if it would be worth having a general, education friendly, tag that could be applied to appropriate CCed photos. What about:

* EduFlickr
* SchoolFlickr or
* FlickrTeachr ?

Sorry, couldn't resist dropping the "e" :-)

As for a Flickr Guide... I'll need to think about that, but it might be fun to have a go.

David said...

Hello John

I suppose the CC search provided by Flickr is a kind of auto-tagging, it's just that the tags are hidden. For example, the "Attribution, no-derivatives" search page is so by-nd-2.0 is kind of an automatic tag - it's just not listed as a tag.

I'm not sure what I think about automatic tagging. I think I would be happy if I was able to turn it on or off... but as soon as you let people turn it off, it kind of defeats the purpose of it being automatic in the first place. :-)

john said...

Hi David,
Yep, auto tagging is probably a bad idea, I really want RSS feeds for CC content. So that teachers could provide pupils with a page that pull in links in with cc photos from flicker (and a bunch of other stuff)
A flickr guide would be a great idea. You could write it here and then pull it altogether into a pdf!

David said...

Ah... now I get you. An RSS fed of a CC search on a particular topic would be cool. It's such I good idea that I initially thought, "But they do that already!" However, while they give you RSS for your own photos, for groups and for tag searches, they don't seem to offer one for CC searches. Curses!

Had a quick look in the forums and someone else was asking for this feature, so hopefully someone at Flickr is thinking about it. :-)

Gordon McKinlay said...

I like the idea of saying thank you to the photographer as well as giving a link back to their profile. It is always really nice to get a comment on a photo!

I have had some feedback from the ICT coordinators meetings last week that you refer to. All of it was positive! There was a real buzz around the ideas you were talking about with lots of ways that we can start to take it forward. A reference to your blog on using flickr is now on our eds website.

On the idea of the eduflickr tag, I quite like this idea. I'll start to use this one on some of my photos

David said...

Thanks for the feedback Gordon. Keep me posted if you hear of any of your teachers doing things with these tools. I'd love to see how they use them.

Alan said...

I can agree that in the last year using flickr cc-licensed photo in presenations, and then showing an audience how muhc there is to us, grabs their attention. For that matter, I am still rather surprised at how few people/educators are even aware of cc licensed content, and that they can easily find and re-use medua w/o needing to ask, pay, or bother.

I nearly always try to link, as attribution, to the original page.

The thing I don't like as much about flickr's cc section, is that the search is forked into different paths by license, so you have to bounce up and down between license categories-- that's there the net jums in- if you have not seent it, use the Flickrlilli tool that is a better way to seatc flickr' cc collection:

David said...

Hello Alan

I'd had a go with Flickrlilli a wee while ago and I did like the one-stop-search-everything approach. However, I also like the way Flickr allows you to view thumbnails of the results and since the Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs category is so huge, I usually find what I'm looking for there anyway.

For this post I decided to stay within Flickr to make the different licence types clearer, but I have Flickrlilli filed away and it may feature in a future EduFlickr post.

I did get a bit excited though as I wondered if Flickrlilli would provide an RSS feed of the results (something John was looking for) but alas, no! I might drop Elliot a line to see if an RSS feed is something he is thinking about. Hmm!

Thanks for getting me thinking about this again.