by: Andy Schiemo
Does your eLearning feel stale or still have that 1990s vibe? Are you bored with your existing stock photography? Are you still using photos that look like this?
Fear not! There are tons of free (or almost-free) learning resources on the interwebs, from images to icons to music, and a million creative ways to use them. As learning content developers, we have no excuse for creating anything less than visually appealing, creative, and engaging courses. Even courses on regulatory, policy, or conduct should be appealing and engaging!
Of course, you can do a quick Google Search and find hundreds of stock photography sites, iconography, and music. But with this plethora of assets to choose from, how can you pinpoint where to start?
Here are my favorite resources, and how I've used some in my work.
Where Can I Find Them?
|Stock Photo Resource||Why They're Good||Cost|
|Adobe Photo Stock||
Easy to search, inexpensive and high-quality photos, videos, graphics. Save to library.
Subscription and many only $1.00
|Morgue File||Over 350,000 photos, Searchable site, high-quality photos, ability to "like" and save for later.||Free|
|Unsplash||High quality images for landscapes and many photos with a more artistic photography flair.||Free|
|The Noun Project||Awesome resource for icons and vector shapes. Simple to browse by category, search and download as png or jpeg.||Subscription or individual low-priced downloads.|
|PicJumbo||High-quality images: landscapes,people, architecture, business, technology.||Free|
|Pixabay||Over 760,000 free photos, vectors and illustrations.||Free|
|New Old Stock||Need some old looking, vintage photos? This is the place for black and white photos.||Free|
|Picography||HD photos from all over the world. Great images showing the day-to-day of cultures all over the world.||Free|
|Public Domain Archive||Vintage and modern. Good photography for backgrounds and titles.||Free|
How Can I Use Them?
For one of our clients, RaboBank, I used Unsplash photos to reflect the client's agricultural focus. All images were free and were used to train customers on new software. Though you wouldn’t necessarily think food photos would be appropriate for software training, in this case it worked.
For each training video's title screen, we needed something more interesting than a plain colored background with text.
With the increasing availability of high-quality photography, there are even more options if you have some basic proficiency with using photo editing tools like Photoshop. You can take a relatively boring image and make it interesting.
Below is a great example of "working with" the image. Instead of just text and image side by side, we blew the image up to fill the screen, made it black and white, and applied a gradient for the fade effect. The text and colors pop from the low contrast as a result. Quick and easy photo edits can enhance the entire feel and tone of a course. Strong visuals invite the learner to engage with the course.
Frequently, as part of a blended learning program, we’ll provide learners with a quick Explainer Video up front, prior to sending out formal eLearning content. These videos can be short and fun, and really help foster an emotional connection with learners. Explainer Videos have three "bonus" benefits for learning, because they:
- Improve learner retention by using storytelling
- Simplify concepts using visual demonstrations
- Stimulate viewers' curiosity and inspire them to learn more
Adding music to these videos can help you create a specific atmosphere and tone, and can also help provide continuity between scenes.
Where Can I Find It?
|Music Resource||Why They're Good||Cost|
|Audio Jungle||Thousands of different songs and great search tools. Narrow down to genre, beats per minute, tone and much more.||Royalty-free tracks starting at $1.00|
|Premium Beat||Many songs for videos and learning resources organized by genrea including popular, corporate, music for films, holiday.||Unlimited use starting at $49/track|
|Marmoset Music||This is on the higher end of music resources, usually quite a bit more expensive. Great quality and many more orginal songs to use for Blended Learning. We bought the song for our About Us video here.||Wide range in prices depending on the song and intended use.|
How Do I Use It?
For our own "About Us" video, on the home page and below, finding music was a tough one. We knew we wanting something edgy, but not too edgy. We wanted music that was fast-paced, and fun.
There are tons of great sites for inexpensive audio. We found our song on Marmoset Music. From there, I created a remixed version, cutting parts to both match the video pacing, while achieving the tone we were aiming for. I think it turned out pretty well - be sure to crank up the volume!
Again - there is no excuse for boring or unattractive training. Find those images. Add that music. Work with it! Cut it. Color it. Make it black and white. Use some icons. Put a bird on it! (Okay, maybe not.) The options for creativity in e-learning are endless!
Here's another free resource! Download our Free E-Book: The Power of Chunking.