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Easy steps to add media to a class

January 27, 2011

NASA image from Flickr

One of my favorite ways to use technology in teaching is to find and show media that illustrate the topic of the day. To some of you that sounds obvious, but I believe many people don’t understand just how easy it is to quickly find images and video that you can use in a class – even at the last minute. Nor do faculty realize how much is available: 24 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and Flickr has over 100 million images. Here are three straightforward steps to help hesitant colleagues start taking advantage of the wealth of media out in “the cloud.”

1. Find media

2. Save links to the media

  • Copy the web page address and paste it into a Word document – OR
  • Drag a bookmark from your browser to a folder on your desktop
  • [Update: another option is to use Instapaper]

3. Present the media

  • Double-click your saved bookmark or link and show the web page in a browser


Sound is a special case. There is not as much free sound and it’s a little harder to bring to class. I recommend using iTunes; it has over 100 million songs (for a small fee), as well as tons of podcasts – free programs on every topic imaginable. You will need the free iTunes software and you will want to take your laptop into the classroom to play the media you find.

Copyright and Creative Commons

If you show media to a class on a public website that you found, there should be no copyright issue at all. The same is probably true if you play media that you purchased through iTunes. But is it legal to show a downloaded copy of a piece of copyrighted media to a class? What about fair use? Probably … usually … sometimes … it depends …

One strategy is to look for media offered under a Creative Commons license. In Flickr, use the advanced search feature and specify “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.” Here’s a list of 30+ Places To Find Creative Commons Media.

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