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Often instructors are looking for images to use in their courses because images can liven up the course and help students understand the course material.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it might also be worth a thousand dollars if your school gets hit with a copyright violation claim. —Eric Curts

There are many high quality pictures that can be used without any licensing concerns. These can include images that are released under creative commons, or are in the public domain, or simply are copyright-free.

Eric Curts compiled a list of free image sites and tools for schools that you may find helpful in your search for free images.

free image sites for schools

Two sites I use often that didn't make Curt's list are Creative Commons (CC) Search and the Noun Project.

Are you looking for images of diverse people? This curated list of image collections featuring diverse people by Online Network of Educators may be of interest to you.

black students working on laptop computer

Images have the power to enhance your message or story, they can also become a big distraction when used improperly. Check out this Mistakes to Avoid When Using Photos in eLearning blog post for some common mistakes.

Additionally, you may find an image you want to use, but you would like to make changes to it. You can find free photo and image editing tools in this eLearning Industry blog post by Christopher Pappas. Just make sure the image copyright gives you permission to modify the image.

If you are looking for information on copyright and Creative Commons, our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource has information about CC licenses and CC licensed works that may help.

Image credits:
Image by Eric Curts is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0
Photo by Nappy Studio from

CC icons and share your ideas

I have written a few blog posts about the importance of using appropriately licensed materials in your courses and for your digital projects. Finding quality images, audio, video, etc. can be daunting. When you find something that you want to use, you must make sure the license allows you to do so.

I recently completed the Creative Commons (CC) Certificate course. The Certificate is an in-depth course about CC licenses, open practices and the ethos of the Commons. I was excited when the opportunity to take this 10-week Certificate course came about. I felt knowing more about Creative Commons would help me to better understand and use CC licensed works appropriately. Also, I wanted to be able to apply CC licenses to my own work. While I knew some things about Creative Commons before starting the course, I realized as I got into the course that there was a lot I didn’t know about CC licenses.

I’m writing this blog post to share information and resources that may help you understand more about CC licenses.

What is a Creative Commons (CC) license? A CC license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they (the author) have created.

copyright spectrum

All rights are reserved with copyright. Re-use requires permission from the copyright owner. Whereas, some rights are reserved with CC licenses. Re-use is permitted under the specification shared in the Creative Commons license. The image above describes how CC licenses relate to traditional copyright and the public domain.

If this has this piqued your interest, check out our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource for additional information about CC licenses and CC licensed works.

Image credits:
"Share your ideas" by Nassim Tiachachat is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"the spectrum of rights" by Michelle Pacansky-Brock is licensed under CC-BY