Saturday, March 22, 2008

Free clip art, photos, and other media for educational use

This week I was helping my daughter create an ABC book on China for her World Studies Class. She has learned in school how to use Google Images to search for pictures, but doesn’t really understand that many of these pictures are not legally free for her to use in school projects. It is a common misconception made by many individuals, including educators and parents, that if they are using an image off the web for educational use, that it is fine to do so. In reality, many, if not most images on the web are not free to copy, download, or print, even for use in school projects by students. However, there are a growing number of graphics, images, and other types of media that are available legally for the public to use. These public domain, copyright free, or Creative Commons licensed images are out there for individuals to use, without charge for a variety of purposes.

As educators we often look for images to use for a variety of purposes, from graphics from multimedia presentations in PowerPoint, to use as picture graphic symbols for augmentative communication systems and adapted curriculum materials. Here is a list of some of my favorite sources for images that are free and legal to use.

  1. Microsoft Clip Art Gallery: If you have a MS program on your computer (Word, PowerPoint, etc) you have access to this huge (over 150,000) assortment of clip art images, photos, sounds and animations. You can search by keyword the entire collection, or within specific categories of media and collections. When you download the media, it will automatically store these images in your Microsoft clipart folder in My Pictures. You can then search these images at any time within Microsoft applications.
  2. Flickr: This online photo sharing website is filled with tons of photos and images. Be careful, though, as many photos are not free to use. To be sure you are only using images that are made available for public use, search for images licensed under Creative Commons, at . Creative Commons licensing allows individuals to set parameters on the use of their work, such as attribution or no modifications, without having it copyright restricted.
  3. is a great website that has 25,000+ clip art images that can be used without restriction.
  4. has royalty free clip art that is great for picture graphic symbols for adapting curriculum or creating communication boards. The clip art is generally simple and uncluttered, without backgrounds or distractions. It is where I found a likeness of me (the cute redhead pictured above!).
  5. For historical images, go to The Library of Congress’ American Memory collection. The American Memory Collection provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience, such as this advertisement for Spalding baseball equipment.

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