Tips & Tools for Instructional Designers
Frugal eLearning Developer Series


Article 1–Graphics on A Budget
–Keithia Kirkaldy
Instructional Designer
CCE Instructional Design for eLearning Certificate Program Instructor

Transform Your Content with Images
Developing eLearning can be a fun, rewarding and a creative experience for all levels of instructional designers. There is nothing like taking a flat piece of content and turning it into an interactive learning experience. When great resources like stock graphics and audio, editing tools and development resources are accessible, it makes the development task so much easier.  What happens though when those resources are not available? 

Pictures are worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes. As eLearning developers, we strive to find the perfect visual representation to accompany any training or educational content. Having access to a paid stock imagery site is phenomenal, but what do you do when you do not have that access?

Be Aware of Usage Rights
There are many free options out there.  As an eLearning developer, it’s important to be resourceful and resilient. Most images have some type of copyright or usage restrictions, so before you right click and select “Save As” or “Copy Image” of that great image of a corporate meeting, check to make sure it is free to reuse in either a commercial or non-commercial setting and can be modified without paying a hefty royalty fee.

One of the best places to find high quality stock images that are absolutely free to use with or without attribution is Pixabay. Pixabay offers a large library of images and some stock videos that are free to use, attribution is encouraged but not required.
Pexels is another site very much like Pixabay. The library is not as extensive as Pixabay but it is still a good free resource.

Other Free Sites

The Internet
Lastly, don’t give up on the internet. Free images are available, you just have to be careful. The best way to find images that are available for use without royalty is to adjust your search parameters.

In Google Chrome: Adjust your Search by changing the setting under Usage Rights.

Choose Labeled for noncommercial resuse with modification. (This is the most liberal choice when searching on the internet).

In Internet Explorer: Choose free to modify, share and use under License.

Look for images that are Creative Commons licensed (CC).  In most cases, CC means you can use it as long as your provide attribution, but always read the licensing for images to be sure, never assume an image with CC is free to use. 

Flickr is one the most used sites with CC licensing.

Snap a Photo
Finally, if you just cannot find an image from a free resource, consider taking a photograph on your own with a digital camera or smartphone.

Create Your Own Icon
Looking for a special button or icon, try making one with shapes. Use any Microsoft Office product (PowerPoint is probably the best when it comes to manipulating shapes, lines and text), Pages or Keynote on the Mac, Snagit, Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or any software that has shapes and text.

Finding an appropriate graphical representation for an eLearning project does not have to be the biggest headache you face as an instructional designer; it can be stress free if you are resourceful and know where to look.

Coming Up Next
In our next issue, we will discuss how to edit or manipulate images without buying a hefty subscription to popular photo or video editing tools.

Happy eLearning development!