Free Image Sites for eLearning

When creating a new course content is key.  The point of any course to get your learners to remember what you are teaching them.  You could create the most informative course in the world but if your learners do not remember the material, you did not succeed.  Whether you are building a course using PowerPoint, SCORM or video, the simplest way to get your learners to remember what you teach them is to provide images to help drive the idea home.  These images may be charts and graphs you create or they may be plain and simple images.  An image paired with a thought or idea is going to be more effective in remembering the idea.

Free Photo Options For eLearning

However, it may be difficult to find images that work.  One option is to take photos and create the images but that can be time consuming.  Or you could Google’s advanced search to find free photos. Last, you can use free images. Below is a list I have compiled of websites that offer free images:

  • MorgueFile – Just about every list I have found on this subject lists MorgueFile and I am not surprised.  They have a huge selection of photos to choose from, however, some of the photos are of poor quality which can make a course appear cheap.
  • Microsoft Images – These include both the silly clip art Microsoft is known for and professional photos that are usable.  It is because of these professional photos that this has become one of the first places I go to when I am looking for images.
  • USA Government Photos –  This site is great for finding images related to the government and government agencies.  Just looking around I found satellite images of the world, a chart on how a Chromosome turns into a Double helix, workers in a lab and photos of the president and past presidents.  This site leads to other sites that may not offer free images, so insure that you read the disclaimers on each site before using these images.
  • Wikimedia CommonsHow To Find Free Images – With a look and feel like Wikipedia this site contains over 17 million public domain photos.  In an effort to test how extensible of the types of photos are, I decided to search for an image of a tugboat.  Not only did it show me tugboats, it asked me if I wanted to narrow down my search to river tug, steam tugs, military tugboats and about twenty other categories.  I settled on the image to the right.
  • Stock.XCHNG – This is site is the free version of the paid site, Getty Images and contains over 4 hundred thousand free stock photos.  It also offers additional features such as a community and tutorials, so even if you don’t find an image that fits your needs, it’s worth spending some time poking around.
  • – This is probably not the most impressive site on the list but it made it to the list due to the quality of a about half of the photos.  The images are hit and miss and there are only 6000 photos, so if you don’t find what you need right away here, move to the next site.
  • FreePixels – If you don’t mind being bombarded by ads this is a great site.  Many of the photos are of professional quality.  However, before falling in love with a picture you may want to insure that it’s not an ad to purchase the image.
  • Public domain photos – This site offers 5,000 free photos and 8,000 free cliparts to choose from.  The majority of images are of good quality but the focus is mostly outdoors and nature.

Note:  Before using any image from any of these sites, read the site’s terms of use first.  Although, at the time of this post these sites offer free images, their offering is subject to change and may have additional restrictions.