Friday, February 20, 2015

Photos for Class

One of the difficulties we deal with in using our technology to produce projects is finding appropriate photos. This is especially true in the elementary schools. It is not just finding appropriate photos as far as content, but also following fair use and copyright guidelines, and teaching students how to properly cite the photos in their projects.

A new website was introduced a few months ago that solves all of these issues. The site is called Photos for Class. Photos for Class was created by the people from This site is a great resource for finding appropriate photos. Here are the main things you should know about the site.

  1. Photos for Class pulls it's images from Flickr. Now you may say, whoa, Flickr, have you seen the images you can find on Flickr, I don't think so. However, the Photos for Class people use Flickr's safe search mode to find the photos. They also use their own proprietary filters to keep searches safe. One thing that I really like that they do is they have a default response if someone searches on an inappropriate term. For example if you were to search for the term "sexy" on Photos for Class, the default response is to return pictures of adorable dogs (and they are cute). This is the default for searches of inappropriate terms. I tried quite a few searches and the lack of inappropriate results was impressive. One search term that I did use was "body", this search did bring up several images that were not appropriate. I found contact information and emailed the group. Within 30 minutes I received a response thanking me for the information and telling me that those images had been removed. When I checked they had been. They also told me about the Report Photo link. 
    Clicking on this link immediately removes the photo not only from your view, but from all future results. I found their response to my inquiry very satisfying.
  2. Photos for Class only pulls from Creative Commons licensed photos. This means that the results you get from searches are photos that can be used in student projects without worry of fair use or copyright violation.
  3. Photos for Class automatically attaches a citation to every photo that is downloaded. 
    This is an example of a downloaded photo from Photos for Class
    Download result from Photos for Class

    The citation includes the photographers information so gives them credit, it gives a direct link to the photo on Flickr, and then it includes the attached Creative Commons license. This helps students remember the importance of citing all materials they use in projects.
This is not a site that will have results for everything, but it the results you do get you can trust to be gathered through a safe search process and will be cited appropriately when a photo is downloaded. I now include this in my list of sites for finding images when asked by teachers. 

Disclaimer:  Neither I or Photos for Class can guarantee you will never come across inappropriate images, but they do a great job of filtering and give you a tool to remove a questionable image, so this has gone to the top of my arsenal for finding photos for projects. The most important safeguard when having students search for photos, is for the teacher to be very vigilante in monitoring the students activities online. 

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