Texas Tech University

From the ID Team

Using Creative Commons Licenses

by Veronica Sanchez

We all have an interest in visually appealing images. What better way to use them than as metaphors to enhance learning and engage learners? It was a nice treat to attend the TLPDC's Annual John M. Burns Conference a few weeks ago where Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt University spoke about tapping into visual representations of content to be taught.

Bruff had great site suggestions for finding "free" images (Flickr, Google Images and Wikimedia Creative Commons); however, I wanted more variety. Doing a hasty Google search proved to be an overwhelming and discouraging task resulting in numerous untrustworthy sites claiming "free" use. The root of my confusion was that I didn't know which Creative Commons (CC) license was the best fit for my needs.

CreativeCommons.org's page About the Licenses has great "human readable" information detailing the different licenses. Please note: they all require attribution.

  • Attribution
  • Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Attribution-NoDerivs
  • Attribution-NonCommercial
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
  • Public Domain

CreativeCommons.org also provides a "machine readable" version of the license. That means when I post my work online I am able to code it with my preferred CC license, protecting my work and educating others of the terms. As a person searching for an image to use, this machine readable version allows the ability to filter search results by license. Something to think about is that the accuracy of search results rely heavily on responsibly choosing a CC license and coding the work as such.

My final stop on the website was the Find Licensed Content Search page, which lists external sites that use CC license coding. The sites included were some Bruff had introduced in his afternoon session so I immediately knew I was in the right place. The page does have a disclaimer which I want to make you well aware of: "You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link. ...If you are in doubt you should contact the copyright holder directly..." The advantage to using the sites listed is that they all use the "machine readable" licensing, making searches more accurate.

My greatest takeaway came from reading the license descriptions: all licenses require some level of attribution. Understandably, we all deserve credit for our work.

For more info on using Creative Commons licenses, contact the TTU Worldwide eLearning Instructional Design staff at 742-7227 or elearning@ttu.edu.