Really…Were These the Best Images We Could Find?

JOIN THE CRUSADE…NO MORE CHEESY, ANIMATED CLIPART!

How many times have you seen images like these?

asun1spinning_smiley_4whats_newBusiness_womanCop_waves

Images are an important part of online courses. The trick is that the images we use must enhance the instructional qualities of the content. The images must also look professional and give the learner confidence that the material is accurate. The images above do not look professional and certainly do not give me a feeling that I can trust the course content.

So what types of images could we use?
Photos – Photographs are great because they are real. They don’t look cheesy and they aren’t animated. If you’d like to use a guide in your course why not take pictures of a colleague or friend? You could have them do multiple poses and then cut out the background in Photoshop. Make sure that you use a high enough quality setting so that you can have full screen images that look crisp.
There are tons of stock photography sites online. iStockphoto is great and lets you just buy the images that you want. You could also purchase access to large libraries that let you use as many as you’d like. I’ve used Photos.com and liked the selection.
Graphics – There are times when you want to design your own graphic. There are several different ideas here:
  • Integrate part of the text into the image. Could the text be shortened and integrated into the image?
  • Charts (pie, bar, etc) are great ways to present information
  • Illustrate a process with graphics. A step-by-step process can be a create visual image
Icons – Every course should have a set of icons. Icons can be standardized and used in multiple courses. These icons give the user direction and add functionality to the course. Also, as the same icons are used over and over, the user begins to quickly recognize and understand them. Here are a few parts/functions of a course that could have corresponding icons:
  • Important/Caution
  • Notes/Additional Information
  • Launch Simulation
  • Launch Site
  • Launch Document/Job Aid
  • Course Evaluation
  • Test/Knowledge Check
  • Activity
  • Watch Video
To wrap it all up images should enhance the course content. They should not just be gratuitous graphics that mean nothing. And above all…cheesy, animated gifs have no place in a course. They scream “Novice” and there are so many better options out there.
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Here are some great images for scenarios.