Cover image: Images for global learning

Images for global learning

Moira Jenkins, Global Dimension web editor, has a few suggestions for finding great images. When I ask teachers what they look for in a teaching resource they often say things like: “Well it has to be visual…”, or: “It has to grab pupils’ attention…” Turns out you teachers are always on the lookout for great images to inspire and motivate your learners! So I’ve put together some guidance here on ways to find photos of people and objects and countries, to engage your class with global learning. Please do bear in mind, though, that despite the old saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, photos never really tell the whole story. They can give only a partial impression of people, countries or issues. (You could talk about this with your pupils. Does a picture of ‘cup of tea’ represent Great Britain? What photo would they use? How would they represent their locality, their school, their family or their life? What does the photo they choose include or exclude?) So when choosing photos, maybe you could select a range of images rather than just one: urban as well as rural; male and female; old and young; modern and traditional... Perhaps you could go out of your way to find pictures that challenge stereotypes. Surprise your pupils with images they weren’t expecting... and then discuss their reactions!

Think Global photo resources

Every time we produce one of our annual Global Wallplanners we create a photo-teaching resource based on the images we’ve used on the planner. You can find all of them here.

Online photo resources supporting global learning

Leeds DEC has photo resources on their Global Schools website - downloadable photo packs from India, South Africa, Poland and Ecuador. RISC in Reading has an online resource bank which includes over 4,000 photos for teachers to use, searchable by topic and country. The Geographical Association has a selection of ‘photos for enquiry’ from China, Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa. Practical Action has a selection of photos illustrating their work for schools to use from a range of developing countries, illustrating transport, renewable energy, costume, climate change, water and sanitation, plants, recycling, farming and homes. You can find photos to help teach about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the Global Goals Resource Centre website - scroll down to the section headed "Global Goals Imagery provided by Getty Images" and you can download zip files with lots of great images in them. (To find out more about the SDGs, visit our World's Largest Lesson pages.)

Searching for images online

It’s easy enough to find photos online, using a Google image search, for example. Usually you can right-click on any photo and save it to your computer. But most photos online have copyright restrictions meaning that you are not allowed to reproduce them (even for educational use). To focus your Google search on images that you are allowed to reuse, click on Search Tools > Usage Rights and select one of the ‘Labelled for reuse’ options. The photo-sharing site has similar search options. Once you’ve typed what you’re looking for into the search box and hit return, you can then click on ‘Any license’ and select ‘All creative commons’ to find photos that you can reuse. You could also look for specific organisations on Flickr; for example the following Flickr accounts share a lot of their photos under a ‘creative commons’ licence: Another useful photo-sharing site is Pixabay, which describes itself as “a repository for stunning public domain pictures”. All the pictures on this site are provided under a ‘creative commons’ licence so you can reuse them anywhere. (NB: A ‘creative commons’ licence doesn't mean you can take credit for a picture! So if you’re sharing these images in a publication or a website you should give credit – and ideally a link back – to the original photographer.)

Online photo galleries from newspapers, magazines, etc

The photos featured on these sites will probably not be copyright free, but they are excellent examples of the photographer’s art. They explore different themes, topical issues, or news stories. You could display the gallery (or selected photos from it) online in class to start a discussion. (Make sure you check through the images first though, as there may be some upsetting images in the news galleries, for example.) The Atlantic photo galleries The Boston Globe Big Picture Al Jazeera in pictures The Guardian galleries National Geographic photography Finally, a brief mention of the social photo-sharing site Instagram. If you use Instagram you will probably already know that there are many people, museums, NGOs, charities and other organisations you could follow to find interesting photos. But I just want to recommend Everyday Africa which moves away from the usual media images of the continent and tries to show what the majority of Africans experience on a day-to-day basis: normal life. This has inspired a range of other ‘everyday…’ accounts, so if you’re interested in a particular country or region, check out Everyday Everywhere which has 'everyday' photos from all around the world. Have we covered everything here? Where have you found your best images? How have you used photos in class? Let us know in the comments box. The picture at the top of the page is Magnifying Glass by Todd Chandler on and used under a Creative Commons licence.