Saturday, November 24, 2012

Flickr-ing in the Classroom - Say CHEEEEESE!

Flickr ( is a free online tool that permits to upload, manage and organize, and share your pictures to the world. It is a tool that also has different levels of permission restrictions available so that it can be safely used for varied classroom enriching activities. Flickr's greatest strengths for the classroom, besides its picture organizing features, are (1) its ability to create discussions about the images to interact and learn from each other, and (2) its capability to tag the pictures so that students can connect their photos to other people's photos and contribute images on topics of interest to the community.

In his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Richardson tells us of great ideas on incorporating Flickr into the classroom such as to capture daily events, daily highlights, field trips, speakers or visitors, and/or special projects to share them among the students, the parents, colleagues, or the community.

One of the features highlighted by Richardson, is the annotation tool which allows to add notes to parts of the image by dragging a box across an area of the image and typing text into a form. This feature can be utilized easily in class by having students upload images of, say, projects, experiments, or diagrams, and label (explain) each of the parts, materials needed, steps, or any item in the picture. Adding annotations to the image will allow these notes to pop up as the mouse rolls over the picture and can easily help identify what students are looking at. This feature can also be a great tool to use by the teacher when explaining how an experiment should be conducted, or what are the expected results for any given project.

One great use that I've found with Flickr, is to teach the students about copyright and proper appropriation of other people's work through the use of Creative Commons copyright licenses. For more on Creative Commons licenses read my blog on How To Get Images From the Internet and Not Get In Trouble.

Another feature that Flickr offers, is its capability to create RSS feeds for the comments on the pictures, that way if the teacher or classroom share a picture for discussion, instead of having to load every time the picture's page to see the comments posted by the students, all the teacher has to do is subscribe to the RSS feed and all the comments will be fed to the teacher as they are posted through RSS tools such as Google Reader. Also, if the class is interested in some topic, the students can easily 'subscribe' to a particular tag (topic) and receive photos as other people upload them by adding the full URL with the particular tag into Google Reader. For example, if the class was interested in getting pictures of the state they were studying, say 'Texas', all they would have to do is add the URL to their Google Reader subscriptions. This could come in very handy if your students are already experimenting with blogs and reading each other's blog with Google Reader.

If you are interested in Google Reader you can see more of it in the following video:

Another interesting use for Flickr in the classroom, is through its ability to integrate with Google Maps that allows to give a global sense and teach geography via the uploaded photos so that the photos the students upload into can open up to the place where they were taken on Google Earth or Google Maps. All one has to do for this is to open Google Maps ( enter the address where the photo was taken, and in the URL, you will find the latitude and longitude information (after "11=) that you will need to copy.

You will than have to add to Flickr the latitude, longitude, and 'geotagged' tags into your picture.

Once you upload your photo, the page where your photo recides will display a map with the location where the photo was taken.

And, if you click inside the map, a popup window will display a zoomed in version of the map with the exact location.
Imagine now if the students were to create a photo tour of their community or city! 

Marco Cesar Saenz
Using Web Tools in the Classroom


Richardson, W. (2010). Chapter 7: Fun with Flickr: Creating, Publishing, and using images online, from the book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (3rd ed.), Corwin Press. pp. 101-110.

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