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App search: Photo-Sharing Apps For the Classroom

App search: Photo-Sharing Apps For the Classroom

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I'm looking for a single app for posting photos, building slide shows, creating video lessons and social networking in the classroom.

I'm a teaching artist doing short residencies grades 4-12. Examples of my work include: cyanotype print-making in chem lab to teach photo-reactivity; pinhole camera workshops to teach the physics of light; photo-novellas as a story-telling form in English Language Arts.

Currently, I'm writing an 8th grade social studies curriculum exploring the missions of The Preamble using smartphones.

I want to be able to make/present a lesson on photography, then say, 'Go take five pictures and upload one.' Then curate an instant slide show, and share the lessons.

Can you point me to some appropriate classroom apps? Here's my criteria:

app/program needs to be open source (free or dirt cheap)
strong identity and privacy protection
UI needs to be a quick study for busy teachers
UI needs to be interesting enough for kids
easy to up-load photos
ability to build/run slide shows
ability to have link all 8th graders in several schools
able to link to a blog

Plus features:

built-in basic photo editing
ability to add music
video uploads
ability to create video lessons (like VoiceThread)
file portability (so they can be easily shared)

I'm sure there are trade-offs, other features and issues I haven't considered.
I've tried:

PhotoBucket (Pros: gentle learning curve, good UI, easy uploading, networking, basic photo editing, slide shows. Cons: ads, ads, ads or $$$.)

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest Pros: widely known, free. Cons: accounts are default public. Companies retain usage rights to all materials posted.)

VoiceThread (Pros: NICE creation tool, portability. Cons: $$$ much too expensive for most schools.)

Any help appreciated. Feel free to pass this on.


Barry Kleider,

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Ashley Cronin's picture
Ashley Cronin
Digital Resource Curator

Have you looked at Animoto? Here's a review from Common Sense Media. It does well on privacy, but it's not open source. It's a freemium product, so you have to upgrade from the free version to get all the features. Video length is limited to 30 seconds on the free version.

bkleider's picture

Thanks, Ashley. Sorry I didn't mention Animoto in my post. I don't know if my lessons would be portable -- I just know 30 seconds is too shor


@creativityassoc's picture
Director, Education Division, Creativity & Associates

Maybe a blog would be the easiest answer to start the process. It can do most of those things, but I don't know about photo editing, beyond simple cropping. I use Wordpress for a lot of school-related projects because I can invite a group of students to become contributors or just viewers. It can be a private blog so that only those people invited can see it. And, you can pick a template that specializes in photography. There are a lot of them. Wordpress is free with no ads, but you will run up against an upload limit, but it's bigger limit than you think it will be for free. and, you can have the students make the photos smaller for display to reduce the size. There are slideshow capabilities and you can load all kinds of media that you make somewhere else, including sound and video. Good luck with your projects! I've checked the box so that I can get emails when other people comment. I look forward to learning about other resources.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Barry,
Just from the list of requirements, it sounds like you are doing some really interesting work! I was thinking that the iPhoto app might be able to help. Students can create journals based on photos, which they can share, link, add lots of other text and information too - would this suit your purpose?

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