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  • Writer's pictureMichelle D Rogers

Free CC Images for Use in Education

There are quite a few creative commons and limited-license options online where teachers and instructional designers can find free images for use in non-commercial, non-profit situations.


Copyrights - The Bane of Designers


Finding free images is a hurdle many educators, content developers, course managers, and instructional designers all encounter. We all know that fun and colorful graphics add more pizzaz to a course design, but the cost of copyrighted stock photography is far out of the budget of many educational organizations.


Following is more information about that option, as well as links to many of the places I get copyright-free images online for the courses I design:


First item to cover: Creative Commons. What is it?

CC is a type of copyright that means you are able to reuse the content under varying restrictions and open-use depending on which license was used. You always have to give at least credit/attribution to the original author/designer.


Open Educational Resources. What is it?

OERs are eResources, eBooks, and digital learning objects that teachers can use in non-profit institutions without concerns for copyright, so long as credit/attribution is given back to the original author/designer.


Free Images for Educational Use:


Photo Pin: PhotoPin searches the web for you, and finds all the Creative Commons photos available, and compiles them into one nice search engine. When you download the image, it will also give you the appropriate credit/attribution you will need to use. Watch out for something that is a little tricky at the PhotoPin website though: they put sponsored (e.g. paid) images in the top two rows... then below the dotted line are all the copyright free creative commons images! http://photopin.com/

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc







Flickr: Flickr has an excellent repository of Creative Commons images. Just be sure to copy the user ID of the photo owner so that proper credit/attribution can be given. Photos must give credit (attribution) as exampled here with this image (I just pulled the HTML share code at Flickr so that when you mouse-over it, that gives the credit). http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/












500px: 500px has a lot of photos that are under the Creative Commons license. It is updated everyday. You must give credit (attribution) as exampled here with this image. http://500px.com/creativecommons










Creativity103: all these photos are free to use under the CC license. It hosts a very large collection of abstract images good for backgrounds. A linkback (as exampled with this image) is required). http://creativity103.com/








Animal Photos: Animal Photos hosts a growing collection of photos of many different kinds of animals, free to use under the CC license. A linkback (as exampled with this image) is required. When you click on the image, you will find the 'link back' embed code below it. http://animalphotos.info/a/

Picture Source: princessbalavera and Animal Photos!









PhotoEverywhere: Photos Everywhere hosts a growing collection of freely usable travel photos from around the world. A linkback (as exampled with this image) is required. http://photoeverywhere.co.uk/












Morgue File: A large host of creative images free for use in not-for-profit contexts. Like Free Pixels, it was super easy to use. I did not even need an account. I just clicked and downloaded. Voila!












Free Pixels.com : A load of free images to use in non-profit and non-commercial contexts. And, easy to use. I did not need an account. I just clicked and downloaded it! And, some very high quality professional images too.









Turbo Photo: A very extensive list of free images to use. Just find the image, right-click, and 'save as'. Does not seem to need attribution to any one particular photographer either.









Internet Archive Book Images

Getty Images: Yes. That is right. Getty, the monster of stock photos (and big price tags) has decided to allow non-for-profit and educational use/embedding of 35 million of their images!


Main image credit: photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

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