The list below features some of the best websites where you and your students can access public domain and free images. All of these platforms offer premium plans with more features and perks in case you want to upgrade.
Before you use any of the materials provided in these websites (and any website for that matter), I recommend that you check their license requirement to make sure you are not inadvertently breaching any of their usage rules.
Also, make it a habitual practice for students to always check attribution rights and learn about the different types of Creative Commons Licenses out there. Use this poster to get students familiar with the terminology used by CC and check the sources at the bottom of this post for more resources on the proper use of images in education.
You can also check these collections featuring digital art maker tools and free icons and clip arts for teachers.
1- Photos for Class
As its name indicates, Photos for Class provides access to a huge library of photos to be used in classrooms and in educational settings. Photos for Class provides provides the following features:
“Age Appropriate Images – All images are appropriate for the school setting, thanks to Flickr and Pixabay SafeSearch and our proprietary filters.Automatic Citation – Downloaded images automatically cite the author and the image license terms.Creative Commons – All photos shown are, to the best of our (and Flickr’s / Pixabay’s) knowledge, licensed by Creative Commons for public use.”
Pics4Learning is another great resource that provides free images for educational use.’Teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos and illustrations for classroom projects, web sites, videos, portfolios, or any other projects in an educational setting.’
You can search for images using Pics4Learning search functionality or browse its collections which includes History, Music, Oceans, Objects, Plants, Animals, MAPS, Culture, Holidays, GEOGRAPHY, space, Countries, Education and more. Also, note that Pics4learning is a user-generated platform meaning you too can contribute your own images to help other teachers and students use them in their projects.
Another great resource of free images to use in education. Pixabay hosts over 2 million high quality stock photos, videos, illustrators, sound effects, vectors, ad music. As of writing these lines, Pixabay prides itself for making its content ‘safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.’
To download media from Pixabay in full resolution you need to sign up. Pixabay, as is the case with google, provides SafeSearch feature allowing you to block inappropriate or explicit content from search results.
Pexels offers you access to some of the best free stock photos for educational use. As of this moment, Pexel’s license guidelines are:
‘All photos and videos on Pexels are free to use.Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary but always appreciated.You can modify the photos and videos from Pexels. Be creative and edit them as you like.’
Unsplash provides access to a huge library of free re-usable photos. You can browse images by category (e.g., Wallpapers, architecture, experimental, nature, fashion, film, food and drink, and more) or your the search the box to search for specific images.
“Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.”
Freepik offers a huge library of graphic resources that include free vectors, stock photos, icons, and PSD. Use its search service to search for images and use the drop-down menu on the left to apply different filters (e.g., collections, vectors, photos, Psd, Icons, etc).
PNGTree offers royalty free PNG images, vectors, backgrounds, templates, text effects and many more. The free plan allows two downloads per day. For more downloads you need a premium plan.
Flaticon offers over 6 million vector icons and stickers available in various formats including SVG, EPS, PSD, and BASE64 formats. Flaticon allows users to edit the colour of icons and change their sizes and the best thing of all it provides add-ons for Google Docs, Slides, and Spreadsheets allowing you to easily insert icons into your Google Workspace applications.
Note: An earlier version of this post was published in 2018. Due to the evolving nature of the field of technology in general and educational technology in particular, I updated this post and added new resources. I hope you will find it useful.