Where to get high-quality, low-cost photos for your eLearning projects

While you or your organisation might subscribe to one or several online image libraries such as Getty Images, iStock Photo or even Adobe’s own photo library, in this post I’d like to highlight three low-cost (or even free) photo resources that let you search for and access photos instantly.

  1. Unsplash (https://unsplash.com)

    Unsplash is a well-known photo library that lets you use images for free (and without attribution) for personal, as well as commercial projects. The site lets photographers submit their photos who hope to get further (paid) business due to exposure on the site.

  2. Pexels (https://www.pexels.com)

    Another free photo library that lets you use photos freely without attribution. There is also a sister site called Pexels Videos which gives you access to free video resources.

  3. Death to Stockphoto (https://deathtothestockphoto.com)

    This site also offers photos, which can be downloaded by paying for a subscription. There is a separate subscription for companies/brands and for freelancers.

If there are any other good photo libraries you’d like to share here, post them in the comments!

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Where to find icons for your eLearning projects

Oftentimes using iconography can convey a message better than photos could. But where to find high-quality icon resources that don’t strain your budget? I’ve compiled a brief list of 3 online resources that let you download icons for free or for a moderate fee.

  1. Flaticon (https://www.flaticon.com/)

    Flaticon lets you download single icons, as well as complete icon packs. Icon packs can be very useful if you need several icons for your project and want to ensure consistency (same line weight, style etc.) between icons. The service lets you download icons for free, but you’ll have to give attribution inside your project. Alternatively you can pay for a 1 month or 12 months subscription and don’t have to attribute your source.

  2. The Noun Project (https://thenounproject.com/)

    The Noun Project is a well-known resource in the design world. Here you can also download icons for free (attribution needed) or purchase a license. You also have the option to filter icons by icon designer, so if a designer has uploaded an icon you like, you can easily find icons by the same creator. There is also a free plugin for you to download for Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, as well as MS Office applications (Word & PowerPoint) applications that let you insert Noun Project icons easily while working in any of these programs.

  3. Icons 8 (https://icons8.com/icons)

    Another great resource is Icons 8. Here you can easily find icons that match up with each other. You can search by style (such as filled or outline icon) colour or category (sports, tech, animals etc.). All icons can be accessed and used free of charge.

If you’ve found other useful resources for cost effective and high-quality icons, feel free to share them below!

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4 Websites to inspire the design of your next eLearning course

When creating the user interface and visual language for an eLearning course, it’s helpful to look for inspiration online. Inspiration doesn’t necessarily have to come from existing eLearning courses, but can come from websites, landing pages, apps and even printed material. In this post I’d like to highlight four websites that let you browse a variety of visual content, save images for further reference and in some instances even showcase your own work.

  1. Dribbble (https://dribbble.com)
    Dribbble is a resource well known in the graphic and digital design world. While originally the platform was meant for uploading a designer’s “work in progress” shots (with the aim of receiving feedback from other participants), it now also features fully fleshed out designs, both for pint and web. As a user you can search by keywords that designers have tagged the work with and browse designs by colour. You can also save an artwork’s colour palette in ACO format to use in your own projects. Just keep in mind that in order to upload your own work (which might be beneficial for your exposure online, especially if you’re a freelancer), you must have a Dribbble account and the platform is per invite only.

  2. Behance (http://behance.net)
    Very similar to Dribble is Behance (owned by Adobe). Here you can also find a variety of different artwork posted by Designers and are able to simply login with your Adobe ID. On the platform you can view artwork curated by Adobe or filter projects by country, colour or creative field (such as UI/UX design, motion graphics etc.). Unfortunately there isn’t a category called instructional or eLearning design, but you can search for specific keywords via the search function. Additionally you can filter by the software used (and enter “Adobe Captivate to see only projects created with the software). Since there is no invite needed to join the platform, anyone can upload their own work if desired.
  3. Pinterest (https://pinterest.com)
    Everyone knows Pinterest. The platform lets you search by keyword, but you’ll have to do some digging through content to find exactly the kind of work you’re looking for. While both platforms mentioned above are solely showing artwork created, Pinterest links to a variety of other content such as infographics or articles. It’s often helpful to look for specific boards contain content from a particular category.
  4. Awwwards (https://www.awwwards.com)
    Awwwards is a site where designers can submit their work for evaluation. A jury assesses each site (for a fee) and the sites selected as being “the best” are then displayed on the Awwards website. What this means for the average user is that he or she can browse through a variety (mostly) high quality sites as a source of inspiration. There are a variety of filters (such as colour, technologies used or category). While, again there’s no “eLearning” category, you can search via the standard search bar on site.

Have you got any favourite sites you go to for inspiration? Share them in the comments!

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The developer’s toolbox Part Two. Storytelling

I’m no Stephen King or Isaac Asimov but as part of the creative process of developing e-learning I do enjoy creating environments (world’s would take too much time!) where the learning takes place. Not all e-learning needs a story or background so go over your information and decide if this delivery style fits the learning goals.

How I create a story (four steps)

  1.  Content: ‘Content is king’ is a saying that’s apt here. I check my content for clues and ideas that will help me create a story.
    Example: I created a ‘ handling food safely’ e-learning sample, the story was set in a Agatha Christie style murder mystery. The basis of the story was developed from the dangers of handling and storing food incorrectly. I thought of the outcomes of this and (artistic leap) an idea popped into my head ‘have the learner prove they didn’t poison ‘the master of the house’ by handling the food safely and correctly.
  2. Characters: I don’t try to create a ‘history’ for my characters. I try to create someone who the learner will easily recognize. For this example Agatha Christie had done the ‘history’ bit for me. Dialogue: This can be a tricky area if you don’t normally write, use your experience of film/t.v. to guide you. In this example I have the detective speak in short and matter of fact sentences to give the learner the steps they need to complete whilst ‘staying in character’. (See sample dialogue below)
  3. Media: This can require a good portion of development time depending on your story and media needed to bring it to ‘life’. A trick I normally use is to give my scenario/story’s is to give the main  slide a board-game feel. (see right) This saves me time trying to find /create a setting.
  4.  Interaction/ Engagement: There was a debate recently, at a L&D conference, as to whether learning should be fun. For me, I think it’s imperative. I like immersive e-learning that is engaging and unique. In this example I incorporated a ‘3 star’ michelin type gamification for the learners characters. For every one correct question/ section they gained a ‘michelin food handling star’.


I like to create unique e-learning and bring as much from the real and imagined world of film/tv/ music etc as I can. This leads for an immersive and enjoyable learning experience.

Thanks for reading.


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The Complete Learning Technologist Certificate – Coming to Orlando in February!

I’ve wanted to put together a learning technologist certification for a long, long time. Well, guess who had the same idea – Training Magazine! And they’re making it happen at Training 2019! Learning geeks will unite in Orlando for our three-day learning technology program February 22-24, 2019. You can register here.

  • Day 1: Creation and Authoring Learning Tools, presented by Jeff Batt
  • Day 2: Multimedia Planning, Tools and Gadgets, presented by Nick Floro
  • Day 3: Delivery and Emerging Technologies, presented by yours truly

I’m going to cover a variety of technologies on day three, in addition to discussing how to select and implement educational technology. And I’ll give you some free goodies to take home with you. Take a look at the program descriptions below and consider joining us at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort!

The Complete Learning Technologist Certificate Program

Whether you are a designer, developer, manager, facilitator, administrator, or executive, you need to understand what learning technologies are capable of today—and what their promise is for tomorrow. Through demos, hands-on experience, checklists, and rubrics, this program goes beyond identifying the latest shiny training tech objects — and helps you become a well-rounded learning technologist who makes the optimal selection, design, and implementation decisions for your organization.

Day 1 Creation and Authoring Learning Tools; Jeff Batt, Head Trainer, Learning Dojo

Authoring tools change quickly and often, so how do you keep up? We’ll begin by examining the overall principles of development (i.e., elements, properties, behavior). Then, using those principles, we’ll begin our exploration of specific authoring tools. You’ll learn:

  • About the basics of course authoring, regardless of what authoring tool you may be using.
  • How development principles apply to current off-the-shelf tools like Adobe Captivate and more.
  • How to make the appropriate selection for authoring tools.
  • How to learn any new authoring tool.

Day 2: Multimedia Planning, Tools and Gadgets; Nick Floro, Learning Architect, Sealworks Interactive Studios

Looking to bring your skills to the next level? On day two, you will learn how to get started building and designing interactive learning. Learn the finer points, practical skills that you can apply, and best practices for delivering engaging learning. You’ll learn about:

  • Architecting your next project with collaborative tools.
  • Sketching a storyboard from paper to PowerPoint.
  • Improving brainstorming and feedback loops.
  • Creating a prototype with Marvel app.
  • Using Explain Everything App to create animated explainers and promos and to provide feedback.
  • Thinking Outside the Box: 5 activities and concepts to add to your next project.
  • Building an interactive chatbot for learning.
  • Strategies for designing for learning and your audience.

Day 3: Delivery and Emerging Technologies; Katrina Marie Baker, Senior Learning Evangelist, Adobe

You’ve spent two days learning how to create engaging training resources. Day three focuses on how to deliver your content using the latest in learning technology and features content from Katrina’s books LMS Success and The LMS Selection Checklist. You will:

  • Define common types of learning technology platforms.
  • Demonstrate how technology can help you engage learners through the use of gamification, mobile learning, social learning, and blended learning elements.
  • Explain how to use reporting and analytics to understand the learner experience.
  • Describe the process to select a new technology platform, including the features and factors you should review with potential vendors.
  • Discuss the process of successfully implementing and maintaining a learning technology platform.
  • Cover best practices that include how to internally market your platform, curate your course catalog and content, and build an effective administrator team.

BONUS! You will walk away with supplemental materials and a free trial of Adobe Captivate Prime.

BYOD:  Please bring a WiFi-enabled laptop with Storyline and Captivate installed (trial versions okay).

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4 Steps to Selling Your eLearning

If you’re thinking of a career as a freelance instructional designer in elearning or instructional led training, or you’ve already made the leap to running your own ID business, you will need some sales skills. For me when I decided to go freelance, it was a return to the skills I already knew. After all, my career before training design was in retail sales. I just needed to blow the dust of these skills to become successful as a freelance instructional designer. to make things easy for you, I’ve broken the sales cycle down to a simple four-step process.

1. Building a Relationship

We’ve all got the email asking us to quote on a potential job. If you type up the quote and email it off, I promise you will never hear from 99% of these people ever again. That’s because you haven’t built a relationship with your potential client. I always set up a meeting whether it’s online or face to face to first of all discuss the potential client’s needs. Building that relationship is about many things, but an important aspect of it is trust. Think about it, do you trust an anonymous email, or do you trust someone who you’ve had a conversation with and listened to you speak.

2. Identify the Need

During that conversation, I do more listening than talking and allow the potential client to talk about their business needs. That’s right I said business needs. Companies don’t have training needs they have business needs. In fact, identifying the business goal is more important than any learning objective. For example, if Groot industries need to sell 100,000 planks in the upcoming year and they only sold 90,000 in the previous year, their business goal is to sell 10,000 more planks. Identifying the needs will mean lots of questions about the business. At first, you might think that the sales department has a performance gap in that they are not selling those 10,000 more planks. Once you do some more uncovering you might learn that the factory is not producing enough planks to cover that potential 100,000 planks. In either case, you need to ask lots of questions until you uncover the real need.

3. Demonstrate How You Can Satisfy That Need

One mistake I made in this area was in my speech patterns. I often would say things like “I think I can help you with this…” or “I’m pretty sure my training can solve your problems…”
A sales colleague of mine role played this out and he pointed it out to me. Since then I now say things like “My training solution will give you the results you’re looking for…” or “I can design an eLearning course that will address your needs and give you the results you’re after…”
Being confident in your skills and abilities will be contagious. People will also have that confidence. If you’re wishy-washy with your answers about your training solutions, they will likely hesitate.

4. Ask for the Contract

So often sale people forget to ask for the sale. Some people don’t ask for the sale because they are afraid of rejection. I think generally people want to buy things. Certainly, business managers want to get solutions to their business challenges. If you’ve done all the steps correctly up to this point, confidently ask for the sale. You can say things like “When would you like me to get started?” or “What email address can I use to send you the contract?”
You might be surprised that they will just take the next step without any objections.

If this article has helped you get started in your freelance business, I would love to hear from you. Also, if you have any other suggestions that could help others get started in freelance instructional design, feel free to put your story in the comments section below.

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5 Tips To Boost Your Online & Offline Training

Training Tips That Get Results

Online training courses should give valuable skills and knowledge to your learners, so, that they can increase their job performance.  Many companies do not see a fantastic learning and development opportunity, through peer-based knowledge sharing.  Here are five innovative and collaborative activities to include in your online & offline training.

Sharing Knowledge Activities:

These will help to enrich your online training courses.  To share information and knowledge is the goal at the end of the day and the ultimate objective of online training courses.  Many developers will cram so many facts, charts and information, hoping that some of it will stick in the learner’s mine.  Job done, not so fast, cramming too much into a course is just as bad as not putting in enough information into the course and overloading can drag the learner down and stop them from retaining any of the information at all.

1 First Steps First

Ensure that you know the importance of sharing knowledge activities.  Get your employees interested in sharing their knowledge and make them aware of why this is so important in your business. Online training works best when learners share with other learners what they have learned and can even be a way of confirming what they have learned is correct and that they are doing it right.  They may be reluctant to participate but this soon fades and you will have a group of learners that enjoy learning and sharing with others the newly acquired knowledge that they have received.  A great way to kick this off is to use the forums or chat facilities in your LMS or to have some time set aside throughout the week for learners to converse with each other.

2 Create a Learners Support Library

Keep all of your support resources in a centralised location will make it extremely easy for your learners to access the information when they need access to it.  They will need to revisit information to ensure that they are doing it correctly, some staff may only need to refer to a PDF to ensure that they understand the basic concepts of a task that they only perform once or twice a year.  When I worked as a manager in retail at Homebase, I would access the procedures and processes for the yearly stock-take, not because I dd not know how to complete the stock, but because I knew that by revising the processes I would have a more successful stock-take every time.

Also, many employees/learners won’t have the time to contact their peers, due to time constraints and having this central library will make the process very simple for them when they need to access vital materials/content to complete the given task.

You could also make this a learners project as well by asking them to submit content (just like eLearning Adobe forums), this gives the employee/learner a sense of responsibility and pride that their submissions are working for their colleagues, themselves and for the company.  This will also allow the employee/learner to gain valuable peer feedback, based on the materials/content they add to the library.

Store information in various formats such as Video, Presentations, PDF’s Infographics, Simulations and ensure that they cover specific training events or topics.

3 Peer-Based or Buddy System

Have a peer-based coaching system in your company is a fantastic way to get your eLearning to rapidly envelope learners.  Every company has a wealth of knowledge built up in their experienced employees.  These employees have been through your online training and know the importance of it as a company resource and vital tool that allows them to progress in their careers.

Using a buddy system is a fantastic way of matching up a new recent hire to your company with an experienced mentor.  This buddy will be the go-to person in your company for the new recruit.  Using a buddy system also give the new recruit confidence when asking questions that they may think are just dumb questions or when they need to verify that they have completed a task correctly.  Again this helps all employees as they feel cherished to be select as a buddy-up partner and will take the role seriously and ensure that the new recruit gets the training and advice they require.

4 Implement Social Media Groups

Implementing a social media group such as Whatsapp, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter can be a great way to keep all your learners in the loop.  You can have a different group for different departments, such as fitters, carpenters, electrician, admin etc.  While working as a manager in Harvey Normans, I created a salesperson’s group on Whatsapp, this was a great help to our salespeople as they could ask what they considered to be dumb questions in a closed group.  It drove their knowledge levels to a high level and increased their sales performance.

Social media also allows the sharing of images, sketches and detailed answers that were not available to employees just a few years ago, with today’s social media you can make your online learning go even further by including social media as an additional learning platform.

5 Hosting Online Training Events

Again, in today’s digital age we can host online training events and as a learning and development or training manager you can host and deliver live training to 1 or 10,000 learners scattered across the world.  You can use video, whiteboard, allow open discussion, take questions from the learners, record the session(s) for playback at a later date and deliver your training when it is needed most.

Or, how about having one or more your employees host a training session on a specific topic?  While at Homebase, I had two of my employees that were top notch at using SAP software roll out the upgrade training, why?  Basically, because I never used the software to its full extent and my two employees in the admin department new the software inside-out, so it was a no-brainer to have them deliver the training.

And, how about using college students or interns to host training on a new process, task or event?  This can help you build a solid connection with your local university or institute of technology.  Many of these students are working on cutting-edge processes for admin, information technology and product development.


I hope that these tips give you some extra ideas that you can incorporate into your online and offline training.  Its worth remembering that sometimes it the small ways of thinking that can generate the best results for your business and when the cost is zero Euro, well, then you have nothing to lose by implementing them apart from a couple of your working hours.

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Learning Thursday #1: Mobile Technologies in Education

We’re almost to the new year, so I figure I’ll start a new blog post series.    I’m going to put out a new learning and development article every other week that has a unique perspective.  I’ll also post some discussion points for those who would like to reflect on the article.  If you’d like to participate, please follow me here on the Adobe eLearning blog and comment on our first article:

Vavoula, G., Sharples, M., Lonsdale, P., Rudman, P., & Meek, J. (2007). Learning bridges: Mobile technologies in education. Educational Technology, 47(3), 33–37. Google Scholar

(The Google Scholar link will take you to JSTOR, where you can read this article for free.)

Abstract: MyArtSpace is a service for children to spread their learning between schools and museums using mobile phones linked to a personal Web space. Using MyArtSpace as an example, the authors discuss the possibilities for mobile technology to form bridges between formal and informal learning. They also offer guidelines for designing such bridges.

Please add a comment with your thoughts on one (or both) of these questions:

  1. Have you seen a learning experience in the corporate world that is similar to the MyArtSpace experience discussed in the article?
  2. Can you think of an environment other than a museum where this sort of learning experience would be effective?

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Classic Learning Research in Practice – Story foundations

Common Structures

The monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales (used by starwars) that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. Older and easier templates are the dramatic structure and narrative structure.

The Story Spine

Originally created by playwright Kenn Adams, is a tool for creating well-structured stories. It is a series of sentence fragments that prompt the narrative elements of a story, and it can be used by itself or in conjunction with any exercise in which individuals or groups are asked to make up stories. The Platform: Once Upon a Time…, Everyday… The Catalyst: But one day…, Then something change… The Consequences: Because of that… (repeated as may times as you wish), And then …. Occurred, And then….. The Climax:  Until finally…, Then suddenly The Resolution: Ever since then…, And the moral of the story is…,  And the funny thing was….

Using Cast

The diagram below is called a Visual Story Map. It has been developed to illustrate the process for creating a visual story. More details can be found in the book: Stories that Move Mountains: Storytelling and Visual Design for Persuasive Presentations,

Beyond the Story

A successful learning solution should not stop with a story and should include Constructivism and Behaviourism. A good guideline during the development of your eLearning course can be provided by using the 3 M’s, as explained in the book Designing Successful e-Learning by Michael W. Allen. This is making sure that your eLearning courses are meaningful, memorable, and motivational.  If you fail to achieve one of them, your solution won’t be as impactful as you desire. To make it more learner centric it should be an active experience within the learners context, supported by progress feedback and an assessment.

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

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Trends in Training & Learning Management (Includes Webinar Recording & Slides)

On November 21, I facilitated a discussion of major trends in learning and development.  Fun and data was had by all, thanks to our awesome audience from around the world!

If you would like to check out the full session recording, click here.  The description is below.  And here are the slides:

Join Adobe’s Senior Learning Evangelist Katrina Marie Baker for this lively conversation about the latest trends in training & development. Based on recent studies and research, the session will explore what people are doing in organizations around the world, and how organizations can achieve great results with modern learning programs.

Katrina will discuss the:

  • Impetus behind creating and developing virtual universities
  • Growing demand to encourage learner immersion and ongoing engagement
  • Rise of mobile learning
  • Role of skill-based learning in business training
  • Use of gamification for learner engagement and motivation
  • Ongoing expectations of learners for video
  • Proving the value of your learning program through more relevant reporting

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