Images can be an excellent teaching tool which can make it easier to teach difficult concepts, provide a stimulus for class discussion, or add visual appeal to a teacher’s presentation or pupils’ work. The internet can provide a wonderful source of images, many of them copyright free, but finding appropriate images can be a challenge.
Many major search engines offer pre-set image searching from the homepage, often with options to filter results. However such searches and filters generally work on the basis of filename and description, and so can lead to misleading, unexpected or inappropriate results, sometimes of an adult nature. While teachers may find search engine image searches useful in lesson preparation, they should always be used with care and caution, and it is probably wise not to use them ‘live’ within a classroom setting.
An alternative is to use specialist web-based image collections – sites which deal specifically with key subjects such as the arts, animals, history or scientific concepts. These have the benefit of being closed collections, monitored and moderated by specialists within their field. Many now have an educational focus and provide copyright permissions specifically for educational use.
This site is managed by Learning and Teaching Scotland and contains resources for primary and lower secondary education. It includes a collection of royalty-free illustrations and photos on topics such as seasons and the environment, the human body, numbers, signs and people from history.
ArtMagick is a non-profit virtual art gallery displaying a selection of works from more than 300 artists from the art movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
This is a copyright-friendly image library for teachers and students, consisting of thousands of images that have been donated by teachers, students and amateur photographers.
NASA Earth Observatory
The main purpose of this site is to provide free access to new satellite imagery and scientific information about Earth. Images are generally free to use, unless copyright statements indicate otherwise.
This National Geographic website provides access to an online photo gallery, organised by topic.
North Chadderton School
The North Chadderton School Global Community Zone provides listings of public domain images.
Provided by RM, this website provides access to collections of clipart, sound and video, categorised by primary or secondary education. This is a subscription service.
Search engines for children with image resources
The following search engines are specifically for children and young people, and provide a source of images for use in the classroom. As with other websites, they should be used with caution – they may provide access to full web search facilities, or link to sites which may contain advertising or age-inappropriate content.
Ask for Kids
This is a fast, easy and safe way for kids to find answers to their questions online, and each website included in the service is selected by an editor. The site provides access to clip art through a link to Kaboose, a parenting and family website.
This service provides a page on image search tools, linking on to many third-party websites, mainly American in origin. Many of the linked sites are aimed at a more general audience and so may contain some age-inappropriate content, and so should always be used with caution.