Thing 10: Snap and Share a Pic!

letter c map location letter M letter S
letter L letter E letter A R The alphabet - the letter N SOUTH
letter W letter E b lego brick number 2 full stop zero

Above images created by Spell with Flickr, using Flickr One Letter photo pool. Click any letter to see original image with attribution and CC license.

How I got it here on my wiki page: I copied the big mess of HTML code from the box on the Spell with Flickr page, then clicked "Embed Widget" (the TV icon) and pasted it under "Other HTML." (I did it as two separate words). Feel free to try it on your sandbox wiki page (you know you want to!).

For LOADS more Flickr goodness, visit Flickr Services, FD's FlickrToys and Great Flickr Tools Collection -- after you have learned about Flickr!


You may have noticed that nearly every page on this wiki includes a photograph or image that relates visually to the content. Most images on this wiki come from the Flickr Creative Commons collection. In Thing 9, you learned how Creative Commons allows users to publish their original work on the web, and give legal permission to others to use, adapt and remix the work. "Flickr CC" currently includes nearly 100 million photos, from users all over the world. Creative Commons, folks. Wow.

What, pray tell, is Flickr?
But what is Flickr? Short story? It's a type of online photo storage site. Storing photos online is not a relatively new concept. We've all seen the advertisements from our local drug stores where you can upload your photos online to share with loved ones and have them printed and ready for pick-up in an hour. Many companies exist for this very purpose, but these are consumer/commercial oriented sites, not ones necessarily designed for social "sharing".

However, to investigate the social aspect of photo sharing, we're going to focus on a service called Flickr- one that I am personally addicted to. There are others out there, including a Google product called Picasa that also offers some pretty great FREE photo editing software, but we're going to keep the scope of Thing 10 focused on Flickr - for the most part.

So what are photo sharing sites?
  • They provide free online storage up to a certain number of pictures and/or up to a certain amount of storage space. Flickr allows you to upload up to 200 images for free.
  • You can tag your images (think tagging just like in Diigo). That's what makes Flickr so incredible! Whether searching for your own pictures that you've uploaded or pictures others have taken, the ability to search by tagged keywords makes finding images you need SO much easier.
  • Make photos private or public - but if they're private, you're not sharing :)
  • Ability to comment on photos of others and receive comments.
  • Join themed photo groups - have something you're interested in

Photosharing in Plain English (2:50)
Let's take a look at what Photo sharing is and a couple of the advantages from our friends at CommonCraft.

IMPORTANT! Tagging and Folksonomies - Two Defining Attributes of Web 2.0

So, online photo-sharing has been around for about a decade, but Web 2.0 sites like Flickr offer more than just a place to store your photos and share them with family and friends through email. Flickr is a searchable, social, user-driven community. The social power of Flickr comes from tagging, which is the process of adding meaningful keywords to photos (or any type of content), something we discussed when Diigo (social bookmarking) was introduced.

If you’ve ever used a subject heading in a library catalog or written names or places on the back of a photograph, you’re already familiar with tagging! Flickr's public photo tags are visible to the whole community, so the entire collection becomes organized and categorized, searchable and browsable. Flickr users can also comment on each others' photos and create Groups to develop photo pools (shared photo collections, such as the One Letter pool I mentioned above) and have discussions about any topic or interest.

Photo tagging is an example of a folksonomy, an important Web 2.0 concept that refers to the collaborative organizing of content by everyday users. Unlike a highly structured, professionally developed and controlled taxonomy (such as library subject headings), a folksonomy evolves over time, as more users add more tags to more content. Tagging is a bit messy, can be very individualized, and is non-hierarchical (i.e. there are no "sub-tags"); For example, a photo of your dog may be tagged as dog, beagle, rover and even cute if that means something to you. (Also, tags cannot have spaces, e.g. chocolate chip cookie is actually three tags, whereas chocolate_chip_cookie (or chocolatechipcookie) is one tag).

You may recall that in the Thing 2 video The Machine is Us/ing Us, in reaction to the explosion of digital content on the Web, Michael Wesch asks the question: "Who will organize all this data?" His answer (the answer): We will - using TAGS!

Visual Literacy is Essential

This "Thing" is not meant to be a primer on Visual Literacy, but such a critical skill set can't go unmentioned (without loss of sleep on my part). For our students to be visually literate in the 21st Century, they must be able to "interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st Century media in ways that advance thinking, decision-making, communication and learning" (Engauge - Digital Age Literacies ). As you explore Flickr, I hope you will consider how you might incorporate more visual literacy-building activities into your teaching, and also how you can teach your students about Creative Commons, because, believe me, they don't know.

Here is a brief outline of reasons for Communicating Visually in the 21st Century from David Jakes; Please visit JakesOnline for suggestions about using online resources (including Flickr) to improve students' visual literacy skills. If you are interested, check out Dan Meyer's (dy/dan) blog series about design and visual literacy, in which he ultimately challenges educators to submit a four-slide presentation "selling" themselves a la the UC Graduate School of Business. The submissions and the dialogue are both provocative and compelling. The four posts in the series: Chicago Hope / Misunderstanding Chicago / Contest: The Four-Slide Sales Pitch / Four-Slide Sales Pitch: Final Entries (If you are short on time, just check out the entries -- they are pretty cool).

Discovery Exercise

¤ NOTE: The discovery exercises and task do not require you to JOIN Flickr, but you are certainly welcome/encouraged to do so -- a good place to start if you want to join Flickr is the official Flickr Tour.

¤ BIGGER NOTE: Please be mindful as you explore Flickr that not all images are free to use! Just because you can view it and you know how to capture it doesn't mean you have unfettered permission to use it. See notes at the top of the Flickr Search Tips page for a few words about copyright and Flickr. The good news is, Flickr currently has over 140 million images licensed under Creative Commons, and also, many Flickr photographers will graciously give permission for educational and classroom use of their photos. Incidentally, this same concept holds true for Google or other image searches. We are responsible for honoring copyright, seeking permission, citing sources, understanding what constitutes FAIR USE, and for teaching these essential ethics to our students. Don't forget to check out that WONDERFUL Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Education.

On with it...

Expect to spend a good hour "roaming" in Flickr -- the time should fly by, as you are exploring an amazing resource and this should be FUN!

The following ‡ HELP Pages: are designed to assist you in Parts 1 and 2 of this exercise. They are worth perusing.
  1. Anatomy of the Flickr Explore Page (The many possibilities for exploring photos in Flickr)
  2. Anatomy of a Flickr Photo Page (How to navigate a photo page; how to download or link to a photo)
  3. Flickr Basic & Creative Commons Searching (It's important to understand the difference)

PART 1: Explore Flickr (~15 min)
Spend a few minutes just getting to know Flickr. One of the best ways to do that is visit the Explore page, where you can check out: Most Interesting Photos, Most Popular Tags, Places & Maps, Groups, and general Search. (Try browsing and sample searching in each of these modes). Flickr treats each search word as a separate tag, so you may have better results using phrases, e.g. "long island" (with quotes) or compound tags, e.g. long_island or longisland. Just have to experiment.

PART 2: Find some Creative Commons Licensed photos in FlickrCC (~30 min, depending on your personality and chosen search task!)
Pick a concept, topic or theme of your choice (preferably something you could use in your teaching or professional learning) and search the Flickr Creative Commons to find 3-5 (or more if you choose) photos matching the theme, concept or topic. Download the LARGE (unless it's really big) size of each photo (easiest to save them all to a single folder), being sure to record the photo page URL and photographer's username (I recommend that you paste them right into the bottom of your wiki sandbox page, but you can also save them as browser bookmarks/favorites or paste them onto a word document if you must -- just be sure to save them!) so that you can give credit.

‡ HELP Video:
How to Search Flickr CC, Download a Photo and Save an Attribution Link (The Whole Enchilada)
‡ HELP Page: How to download and/or link to a photo.

You will be invited to use these images to create an embeddable slideshow in Thing 12.

¤ PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT to watch the help video and/or view the help guide for searching Creative Commons photos, as it is a bit different from the regular search and NOT OBVIOUS. You have to click "see more" next to one of the CC photo pools to reach the search box for those photos. If you don't see CC license symbols next to the search bod, then you are using the "regular" Flickr search box, which searches ALL photos and not CC-only.

An alternative way to search all Creative Commons photos at once is to use Flickr Advanced Search and check the box that says "Only search within CC licensed photos."

STUCK for ideas?
A few possible ideas: geometric shapes, colors, architectural styles, barns, lighthouses, bridges, vocabulary terms, natural elements, transportation, monuments, people, cultures, seasons, insects, animals, plants, landforms, billboards/signs, feelings/moods, writing prompts, inspiration, weather, technology, communities, holidays, collections, symbols, simple machines...

PART 3: Explore some Educational Possibilities for Flickr (~15-30 min)
You can't help it, you are teachers, and you want to know about the educational possibilities of Flickr. For a mere start, take a look at some of these resources and examples:

Collections of Ideas

Individual Lessons/Examples

¤ NOTE: A Quick Word About Photo-Posting Etiquette
When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors), is it advisable to get the person's permission before posting their photo in a publicly accessible place like Flickr. Never upload pictures that weren't taken by you (unless you have the photographer's consent) and always give credit (and a link) when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog, wiki, slide presentation or digital story.

Further Resources (provided for your reference)

Select one of the themed/topical photos you downloaded in Part 2 above. Insert the photo via link or by upload, so that it appears WITHIN a blog post (see video below for help) in which you reflect on your Flickr experience. Please share some things you learned about Flickr, the topic/theme you selected for your search, and any ideas you have for using Flickr (or other photo sharing tool) to support your own teaching and learning. Be sure to post an attribution -- or, credit -- to the photographer, in the form of his or her username and a link to the photo page). Be sure to include "Thing 11" in your post title.

‡ HELP Video: Insert a picture in a blog post
‡ HELP Page: How to download or link to a photo.