Five Fabulous Reasons to Use Flickr

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Using Flickr yet? If you aren’t you should be. :-) The past few weeks I have attended two different technology conferences and both of them reminded me how much I love this photo hosting (and sharing) service. Here are 5 Fabulous Reasons to Use Flickr, but I am sure I could come up with many more.

  1. Use Pictures Legally – I see it every time we pull out the laptops in class. My students will want a picture for a project and what do they do? They run to Google Images and steal to their heart’s content. This is fine (legally speaking) as long as the project stays in our classroom. However, sometimes we have projects that we’d like to share with the rest of the world, like the wiki textbook, glossary, and even our class blog. No one wants to look at just text, so photos are a must but I don’t have time to take all of the pictures we need. Where can you easily find some that are safe for you to use? FLICKR using a Creative Commons Search. Once you are on the main Flickr page click on the blue Search button, then the Advanced Search link. That will take you to the Advanced Search page (bookmark it for later use). Place a check mark in the Creative Commons box and type in a key word at the top. Once you find a picture you’d like to use make sure you cite it properly by providing the photographer’s name and link to the page where you found it.
  2. Vocabulary Flash Cards – My tech director, John, has documented how to create Flickr enhanced vocabulary lessons on his blog, Edutonica. Using that same principle my students have been using Flickr to create techie versions of the same flash card assignments I have been giving students for years. In my class when students have to create flash cards using pencil and paper the turn in rate is horrific! However, if I give them the opportunity to make them using PowerPoint, Flickr, or Animoto, the digital drop box on my class Moodle page starts overflowing.
  3. Google Earth Projects – If you’ve read this blog much or attended one of my presentations you know that I secretly long to be a cartographer and somehow develop a career around Google Earth. Its a little pathetic – just ask Amy at Somerset. Whenever I create my own Google Earth files (I’m happy to show you how – just ask) I always like to include pictures in each of my placemarks. While Google Earth has great satellite imagery, a picture of the roof of my house is not nearly as interesting as a picture of the front of it. When placing pictures in Google Earth or Google Maps placemarks you really need them to be hosted online somewhere (linking to files on your hard drive can be messy). Flickr is the perfect place to store your photos or find ones that other people have already uploaded. Using them in Google Earth and Google Maps placemarks is as simple as right click, copy image location, paste. You’re done!
  4. Flickr Toys – I’ve known for a while that there are sites that let you do more with your Flickr pictures. For example, with Animoto you can turn them into a short movie and you can Spell with Flicker on this site. However, two weekends ago my new Twitter friend Linda (aka ZiggyU) introduced me to Flickr Toys on Big Huge Labs over a bunch of chocolate at the CTAP6 ETC conference (See! You should have gone). This site aggregates a bunch of Flickr tools into one place. Using Flickr Toys you can create your own calendar, jigsaw puzzle, or even motivational poster. If you have an idea for a photo chances are you can find something there to make it happen.
  5. Photo Sharing – Since you are using all of these photos provided by other people, you should share back. Flickr allows you do that very easily. You can upload pictures directly from your computer or you can email them to your Flickr page – each one has a unique email address. The email feature is quite handy if you have a cell phone with a built-in camera. Snap a few pictures and use email them from your phone to your Flickr page. You can even have groups of people email photos. A few months ago we documented how to use scientific tools in my classroom as students used their cell phones to take pictures of their graduated cylinder, triple-beam balance, and metric ruler. They then emailed these photos to our class Flickr page. I displayed the page on the board using my LCD projector so kids could immediately see their work (and I could immediately pull anything down that was questionable – this actually NEVER happened). Once photos are on your page you can organize them into sets and collections, tag them with key words, and even place notes on certain parts of the picture. However you upload your pictures make sure you give them a Creative Commons license so that others can legally use them.

Some may be wondering, “Do I need a Flickr account and if so how do I get one?” You only need an account for uploading pictures. You don’t need one for using photos. However, they’re free. Go to Flickr and make one. If you have a Yahoo account you actually already have a Flickr account (Yahoo bought Flickr). Also if you have PacBell/AT&T/SBC (whatever its called these days) DSL service at home you have a Flickr Pro account that gives you unlimited storage. No need to worry about the hard drive with all of your digital photos crashing!

There are so many other reasons to use Flickr other than the five I posted here. For example, take a moment to check out PicLens (its very pretty when installed on Firefox and allows you to search for photos quickly) and the Library of Congress Flickr page. If you have other Flickr finds I haven’t mentioned post them in the form of a comment to share with all of us.

Joe

Photo: World of Flickr by msc-web.de

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