Online photo sharing is one of those areas that has evolved and changed over the years. Back in the day, Photobucket was what everyone used. Google’s Picasa Web has grown in popularity, as have more brand-specific sites such as Kodak’s Gallery and Snapfish. Flickr has pretty much always been a mainstay, however. It is also the one site that I don’t exactly participate on. I use it to find great photos to include in my blog (and I always use ones that are flagged for reuse under the Creative Commons license), but I have never uploaded anything to Flickr.
Typically, if I am sharing photos, I will do it on Facebook where I have greater control over the audience (I do realize that Flickr has a few privacy settings, as does Picasa Web). I have also started enjoying Instagram, but it is unfortunately an iPhone-only tool, though it does publish the individual photos to Twitter or Facebook per your settings. I do have a couple of public albums shared on Picasa Web, one of which is a collection of almost one thousand screenshots from World of Warcraft (taken over a period of five years, mind you), and the other is simply a collection of photos that feeds a widget on my personal family blog.
Online photo sharing is a great way for students to exhibit their own work, both for school and personal use. It is important, however, that both teachers and parents work closely with the students to teach what is appropriate to share on online photo sharing sites and what is not. One danger of the digital photo era is that there is no final buffer between the photographer and the production of photos, as there was in the days of film. In other words, kids take pictures of things that should not be photographed.. ahem…if you catch my meaning.
Some simple ideas of how teachers can use online photo sharing sites are documenting school field trips, publishing publicity photos for a school play or musical, sporting events ad nauseum, and student artwork. I always enjoy, however, reading/learning about teachers who have stepped out and used tools designed for photo sharing in ways that I never would have imagined.