Sunday, March 8, 2015

DigiLit Sunday: Helping Students with Image Use

As part of a continuous collaboration among educators interested in digital learningMargaret Simon hosts a weekly Digital Learning round-up on her blog:  DigiLit Sunday.  Stop by Reflections on the Teche (today's link-up) to read, discover, and link.  

Recently a conversation with first through fifth graders about obtaining photos for their blogs left me sweating.  It went something like this:

Student 1 to Student 2:  "How'd you get that picture on your blog?"
Student 2 to Student 1 (and a gathering crowd): "My big sister helped me.  We just went to Google, found a picture, and then put it in the post like this..."

Me beginning to sweat and the crowd growing.

Yep, the next thing I knew students were headed to Google.  This concerned me for three reasons:  safety, copyright, and digital responsibility.  We managed to work through the situation at the time, but I knew I needed more long term solutions.  Students needed to have a respect for the artistic and creative work of others.  Students needed to know:
  • where to find images safely
  • how to locate images that have acceptable use distinctions
  • how to properly acknowledge the artist/owner of the work (proper attributions)
  • purposeful selection of images
  • alternatives to finding images
Getting Help
The problem was these weren't my students on a daily basis so I needed a way to quickly help them.  The window of time I'd have for this would be limited, and honestly I wasn't sure the best way to support them in this.  How do you teach young literacy learners about copyright in a way they will understand?  

I did what I always do when I'm really stuck.  I turned to Twitter.  I asked for some help from colleagues I collaborate with digitally on a regular basis.  These were some of the responses I received (within minutes!!! They're amazing!!).  

I've been fascinated with [and panicked about] copyright since I first started using the internet.  Mary Lee Hahn really pushed my thinking a few years ago with her poetry work around copyright and creative use in which she used WikiMedia Commons for images to inspire poetry:  Common Inspiration, Uncommon Creations.  Since then, I've been trying to wrap my head around what this means for students.

The Solution
For me, the easy solution to copyright concerns has been to take my own photos.  Using my own images takes the worry away from having to locate a photo with the appropriate copyright.  For this same reason, I've encouraged students to take their own photos to go with their posts.  We will talk more next week about purposeful image selection for our posts.

However, I understand sometimes you just want to find a picture quickly or are looking for a particular type of image.  To help students to locate images with greater ease, I decided to put together links for students to use.  These links have been added to our website and should help these young writers locate images safely:  Merely Reading.  I'm hoping this is the first step in helping students to understand the importance of respecting the work of other creators.  I want them to have good habits now for their work in the future.


  1. I know! I've struggled with this problem and am extremely frustrated. Our network blocker keeps students from using the given images in kidblog. Also, when we do a search using "filtered for reuse," we get a complete page of x's because all creative commons are blocked. I encourage them to use their own photos, but they can only do that from home. I have not found a good solution. I've taught them how to make a hyperlink back to the original image site. That is going to have to do for now. Thanks.

  2. Thank you so much for these resources! This is really a difficult issue, and it's so easy to copy and paste from Google images. My students and I have a hard time finding good photos that are available for reuse. I really appreciate the links you've gathered and shared.

  3. Finding appropriate images and citing them is important. Thanks for sharing the resources. I had forgotten about some of them and others were new. :)