Creative Commons Resources for Classroom Teachers

If your students are using images, video, or music in the final products that they are producing for your class, then it is INCREDIBLY important that you introduce them to the Creative Commons — an organization that is helping to redefine copyright laws.

With a self-described goal to “save the world from failed sharing,” the Creative Commons organization has developed a set of licenses that content creators can use when sharing the work.  While every Creative Commons license requires that attribution to be given to the original owner of a piece of content, every license also details the ways that content can be used by others WITHOUT having to ask for permission in advance.

That makes Creative Commons content perfect for use in classroom projects.  Students can find engaging images, videos and music clips to enhance their work AND respect the ownership rights of content creators all at the same time.


Want to know more about the Creative Commons?  These resources might help:

The Creative Commons Website — The Creative Commons organization has created a pretty fantastic website detailing the rationale behind redefining copyright in a world where creating and sharing digital content has become the norm instead of the exception.  Spend some time poking around here and you will quickly have a better sense for why the Creative Commons matters and how the Creative Commons can help students working on projects for your class.

A Shared Culture — Whenever I’m introducing the Creative Commons to teachers, I use this engaging video created by the minds behind the Creative Commons.  Designed to detail the reasons that new copyright definitions are needed in today’s world, it is provocative and visually interesting.  It’s also made with Content licensed under the Creative Commons!

Introducing the Creative Commons — Whenever I’m introducing the Creative Commons to my middle grades students, I use this video created by the folks at Commoncraft.  It is a more approachable introduction to the same basic concepts detailed in the Shared Culture video linked above.

Citing Creative Commons Content — Just because Creative Commons licenses grant sharing privileges in advance doesn’t mean that credit doesn’t need to be given to the original creators of Creative Commons content.  In fact, the future success of Creative Commons licenses probably depends on how often original creators are given credit for their original works.  This infographic created by the folks at Foter details the steps that users must take to create a proper citation for Creative Commons images.

Sources for Finding Creative Commons Content:

The Creative Commons Search Tool — One of the best places to start looking for Creative Commons content is the search tool found on the Creative Commons website.  Designed to scour popular online warehouses for Creative Commons content, the search tool can help users to find images, video and/or music that can be used without asking for permission in advance.

The Foter Stock Photo Collection — Similar to the Creative Commons search feature listed above, the folks at Foter have developed a tool that scours the web looking for images that are licensed under the Creative Commons.  What makes Foter’s search tool different is that it automatically generates a complete citation for content returned in its results.  That makes giving proper credit to the original creator of Creative Commons content even easier for students.

Flickr Creative Commons Collection — I’ve used Creative Commons content in my professional work for the better part of the past 8 years.  Specifically, I use Creative Commons images in most of the slides that I create and share here on the Radical.  My go-to source for Creative Commons images has always been Flickr’s Creative Commons collection.  I use Flickr because there are MILLIONS of high-quality images to choose from.  While searching through that many pictures can take time, it’s almost always time well spent.

Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Commons — Another fantastic source for Creative Commons content that may surprise you is Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that classroom teachers and media specialists love to hate.  Most of the images and video posted in Wikipedia have been shared under Creative Commons licenses.  A user simply has to click on any image to see the license and download the image.  You can also search the entire Wikipedia content collection by visiting the Wikimedia Commons website.


Related Radical Reads:

What Do YOU Know About the Creative Commons?

Five Tips for Creating PowerPoint Slides that Won’t Bore Your Audience

Anti-Bullying PSA Project





3 thoughts on “Creative Commons Resources for Classroom Teachers

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Thanks for sharing the resources, John — both here and in the blog resources post. Always jazzed when someone sends interesting content around to explore.

      And no joke: Any copyright law that is 15 years old is pretty darn outdated. Think about how different sharing looks today than it did 15 years ago. There’s nothing even remotely similar about sharing in today’s world and sharing fifteen years ago.

      The only hitch with Creative Commons that I’ve found is that a ton of content creators don’t REALLY understand what CC means — and sometimes they end up changing their licenses over time. Now a CC license is permanent even if the creator changes the license later — which means if you use an image when it’s licensed CC-A, that license continues to apply even if the creator later changes his/her mind.

      But I’ve started to save screenshots of the CC-A license so that I’ve got proof in the event that a creator comes back to me and tries to accuse me of breaking a license. It’s a bit of a pain, but while we sit in this gray area where CC is still new to lots of people, it’s necessary.

      Anyway, rock right on,

  1. bqdressler

    Great post! Thank you for sharing these resources. I’m the teacher librarian/information literacy specialist in a primary school and have been talking about the importance of Creative Commons with my students and colleagues, so it’s always good to come across a post like this. I love the Foter infographic and love to use (and to find images and have taught my students how to do the same. So good to get the word out about Creative Commons! Thanks again.

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