Images for Creative Projects: Searching Successfully, Assessing Quality, Understanding Fair Use

This teaching resource has been submitted by Sarah Carter and Willa Tavernier at Indiana University Bloomington.



Learning Level


Short Overview

A one-hour lesson plan for undergraduate college students in visual arts disciplines that covers search strategies for, critical evaluation of, and understanding rights to reuse images. Since the searching process for images is not the same as searching for a text-based work, in part because images don’t have as many keywords associated with them, it is important to use robust vocabulary which describes the object or concept you are searching for. The lesson starts by demonstrating the impact of vocabulary using two differently structured Google Images searches, ideally based on terms suggested by students. Students see the difference this makes in the search results returned in real time, then the facilitator demonstrates advanced search techniques. A hands-on visual analysis exercise compares reproductions of the same image from 3 different sources (including library databases). The next step is to have students critically evaluate the 3 images taking into consideration the source, context, quality, and technical information provided with the image. The lesson wraps up with discussion of copyright basics and how to legally use artistic works including fair use.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a list of keywords for image searching.
  • Evaluate images for reliability, accuracy, and quality.
  • Articulate a fair use rationale for image use.

Resources Required

  • Presenter computer and projector
  • Student laptops or devices for short activity
  • Internet connectivity
  • PPT presentation file


Download the Lesson Presentation (PDF)

Download Teaching Notes (PDF)