Photosharing in Learning and Teaching

As their name suggests, photosharing tools allow for the sharing of images online. However, the social software side of photosharing sites is what makes them really powerful, including the ability to share images publicly online or with selected users, commenting tools, tagging and geolocation systems and collection management tools.

This resource explores how a range of Photosharing Sites can be used to create engaging learning resources and activities in vocational education and training. You will find information on:

  1. What is Photosharing
  2. How can photosharing be useful in learning and teaching?
  3. Which Photosharing Tools?
  4. Mobile Photosharing
  5. Photosharing Best Practice Guidelines
  6. Examples of Photosharing in Learning an Teaching
  7. Other Photosharing Resources
  8. What's Next?

Activities for this topic

Learners who are completing the Social Networking Course should refer to the Moodle site for more information about the activities provided:

1. What is Photosharing

"Photo sharing is the publishing or transfer of a user's digital photos online, thus enabling the user to share them with others (whether publicly or privately). This function is provided through both websites and applications that facilitate the upload and display of images. The term can also be loosely applied to the use of online photo galleries that are set up and managed by individual users, including photoblogs."

(From: Wikipedia: Photosharing -, viewed 5 June 2010)

Photosharing Site Features

There are lots of different photosharing sites available on the web, each with their own unique tools. However, most photosharing sites allow you to:
  • Backup your images - in the age of digital cameras and mobile phones, photosharing sites offer a simple solution to protect your images against computer failure or theft, or loss of your camera or phone.
  • Make your images searchable - via titles, tags and descriptions you can easily make your images easy to search and categorize.
  • Share Your Images - publishing images on photosharing sites allows you to share them with the world. Other users can browse, view and comment on your images.
  • Publish your images in private if you wish - most photosharing sites allow you to upload your images and share them either publicly or to selected users (friends), so you can control who sees your images.
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2. How can photosharing be useful in learning and teaching?

Although Photosharing tools' primary function is to provide an online space where people can upload their photos and videos, like many of the social media tools they also offers great potential for learning and teaching. Using Photosharing sites, students can:
  • Develop a range of important digital literacy skills including uploading, tagging, organising, creating networks, searching and understanding copyrights.
  • Develop critical thinking skills (how to appropriately tag images/videos; exploration of images, titles, comment and tags shared by users.
  • Language skills (basic literacy, spelling, discussion/comments, creative writing).

Photosharing tools can be used for a range of purposes including:
  • Resource: As a library of images which can be used to source images for inclusion in learning activities and resources. (Note: Check out Creative Commons at Flickr for more information).
  • Visual Literacy: Photosharing sites can be used for a range of visual literacy activities including identifying, organising and interpreting.
  • Research: Photosharing sites act as an amazing visual research tool, and can be used to locate images from around the globe.
  • Recording: Photosharing sites can be used to record learning events and activities, experiences, processes and learning artefacts - either via the web or via mobile technologies.
  • Creating: Photosharing sites can be used to create posters, albums, digital stories and a range of other image-based learning artefacts.
  • Repository: As a repository for learning resources and activities created by facilitators or students.
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3. Which Photosharing Tools?

There are a wide range of photosharing tools and several have very useful features. Check out the list below for some ideas:


Probably the most popular of all the Photosharing services, Flickr provides image and video sharing services and hosts approximately 4 billion images world-wide (October 2009). Flickr's features include:
  • Free to upload up to Upload images from any computer
  • Image and Video sharing
  • Upload photos via web or email
  • Share comments on images and view comments from other users
  • Restrict users who can view images (public and private optons)
  • Create sets and albums and add titles, notes and tags to images
  • Explore photos from the Flickr community and search for specific photos
  • Mark photos as favorites
  • License Images with a Creative Commons License
  • Create groups of users for sharing and discussion
For more info take the Flickr Tour .
Picasa Web Albums:
Picasa Web Albums is part of Google's Picasa's suite and integrates nicely with the Picasa image editing tools. It includes web albums, privacy features and geolocation tools. Picasa's features include:
  • Integration with Picasa Image Editing tools, as well as other tools in the Google suite including Buzz and Wave
  • Allows users with accounts at Google to store and share 1 GB of photos for free
  • Image Organizer tools
  • Web Albums for image organisation
  • Geolocation tools which are closely aligned to Google Maps
  • Privacy Tools - allows users to make albums public or private
  • Built-in Backup tools
  • Printing Services
For more information check out the Picasa Web Albums Getting Started Guide
Photobucket is an image hosting, video hosting, slideshow creation and photo sharing website founded in 2003. It's features include:
  • Photo and Video sharing
  • Email and mobile phone uploads
  • Group Albums and themes
  • Image Organiser
  • Built-in image editing tools
  • Searching and Browsing Tools
  • Scrapbook Builder with built indesigns
  • Slideshow creation tools
  • Printing services.
For more information check out the About Photobucket page .
Shutterfly allows users to upload, store and share images online. It is also designed to allow users to easily print and publish their images in books, posters, calendards and various other formats. Shutterfly's features include:
  • Upload and share images - free storage
  • Built-in image editing software
  • Borders and artwork to enhance iamges
  • Mobile Uploads
  • Web Albums with customisable themes
  • Images stored at high resolution
  • Focus on photo-based products including albums, books, cards and calendars which can be customised and purchased on the site.
For more information check out the Shutterfly How-To pages .

When selecting the photosharing site you will use, it is important to consider a few issues including:
  • Access: Ensure the tool can be accessed within the DET network and is not blocked by firewalls.
  • Costs and Upload Limits: Most online photosharing sites provide at least a limited free account which allows you to upload a certain amount of data before you must register for a subscription account. Check the details carefully - in many cases a free account is fine for educational projects, but its important to be aware of the limits you may face.
  • Licensing and Terms of Service: Check the terms of service for the tool you will be using to find out what rights the site owner has over images published to their sites. Many (like Facebook for example) reserve the right to use your images in their promotions etc. Usually this is ok - but its important to understand the implications when using photosharing sites for educational purposes.
  • Safety: Does the service have strategies in place to manage inappropriate content on their services? Are there any ratings tools included that allow users to identify the types of content they'd like to see / prefer not to see.
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4. Mobile Photosharing

In the last few years, mobile photosharing has become increasingly popular - with many online services dedicated specifically to mobile photosharing. Similar to traditional photosharing via a computer, these tools allow users to upload their images to the web for sharing, tagging, comments etc. However in this case the upload process is instant and direct from the mobile device.

Mobile photosharing or 'moblogging' as it is common referred to can be used in learning and teaching in lots of interesting and engaging ways, and can be a useful way to engage students in using their own mobile devices in the classroom. It can be used to help students to reflect on how their area of study is part of their life generally, and can also be used as strategy for documenting a specific activity, such as a creative process or an assessment.

Activities could include:
  • Documenting a learning activity in the classroom or as part of workplace-based learning.
  • Sharing evidence of completed practical tasks on an ongoing basis eg. elearning portfolio style.
  • As a group notetaking tool which caters for both text-oriented and visual learners

Mobile Photosharing or Moblogging in Education

Check out the slides below, which were produced for an Australian Flexible Learning Framework eGems Presentation. They provide a fantastic overview of moblogging in education.

Mobile Photosharing Services

There are a range of Mobile Photosharing Services and each has its own set of features. For starters, check out:

Additionally, several of the photosharing sites listed above also include features for mobile photosharing.
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5. Photosharing Best Practice Guidelines

When using photosharing sites and services it's important to be aware of a range of issues including copyright and privacy. Check out the Best Practice Guidelines below for some tips on ensuring you meet best practice when using these sites.

  1. Copyright: Always ensure that you have the right to publish the image you are uploading. Seek permission from people before publishing. If you are a student or staff member at SWSI then ensure you have singed permission to publish photos. There is a form on PoD (Intranet for staff). For students ask your teacher.
  2. Branding: It is important that if you are referring to SWSI (TAFE NSW - South Western Sydney)/TAFE NSW/Department of Education and Training (DET) in your photographs that you follow their branding guidelines. For example the correct logos and naming conventions. For staff these are available on the Intranet on the Marketing Units' site. Students ask your teachers for help.
  3. Ensure that any images used that have a connection to SWSI/TAFE/DET follow policy in regard to child protection, and social inclusion.
  4. It is important that when using images to add a caption or alt-tag to address accessibility issues. For more information please read these guidelines.

Many organisations have policies and guidelines on the publication of images and copyright - including SWSI! Check out the policies below for more info:

Note: This information will be available by March 2011
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6. Examples of Photosharing in Learning an Teaching

Photosharing sites are used extensively in education for a range of purposes. Check out some examples from various TAFE projects below:

Example 1: Photosharing for Environmental Awareness Raising and Professional Networking


In 2007, Environmental Officers, Teachers and Students from various TAFE NSW Institutes took part in a Flickr-based Photo Competition , which was designed to raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues, and also the work being done by Environmental Officers in each Institute. Check out the Environet Wiki for more info or visit the Environet Group on Flickr.

Example 2: Moblogging in Tourism and Hospitality


Tourism and Hospitality Students at TAFE NSW - Illawarra Institute created Moblog to document their exploration of mobile technologies and how social networking is being used in the tourism and hospitality industry. During the project they captured their learning using mobile phones and PDAs and published the images to a shared Moblog. Click here to check out the Illawarra Tourism and Hospitality Network Moblog.

Example 3: Butchery Staff Use Flickr to Create Knife Sharpening Learning Resource

A small team of staff in the Butchery section at Illawarra Institute created a handy Knife Sharpening Slideshow which could be embedded in various learning resources for Butchery students who often study via workplace based or flexible delivery and only have short blocks of face to face class time. Click here to view the Knife Sharpening Album.

Example 4: Photosharing for Photography Students


Photography students at Central TAFE (WA) share images, information and resources via a Flickr Group designed for use by students past and present. They are also using the discusson tools built into Flickr Groups to share tips and useful info. Click here to visit the TAFOTO CMC TAFE Photography Group on Flickr.

Other Photosharing Examples

There are lots of other examples of Photosharing being used in learning and teaching to effectively engage, record and document. Check out the links below for additional ideas:
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7. Other Photosharing Resources

Check out the following sites for further information and examples of photosharing in learning and teaching:
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8. What's Next?

  1. If you are completing the Social Networking Course, visit the Moodle site and complete Topic 12 Photosharing.
  2. Check out the next section of the SWSI Social Networking Wiki - RSS and Syndication
  3. If you want to know how to shoot and edit photographs do the iLearn course on Digital Images. This is only available to SWSI staff.
  4. If you are exploring Social Networking independently, check out the Social Networking Matrix and select the tools that you can use in your teaching or learning.
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