Online Blogucation

The Search is On

Open Toolbox

Image Source:

I’ve been developing and teaching online courses for several years and I’ve noticed that as part of that process I find need of certain things on frequent occasion. After some time, the resources that continually help me find what I need become a valued part of my go-to toolbox for course development and enhancement. In this blog post, I’ll share with you one such valued part of my toolbox.

Even after developing a new course or revising an existing one, I find that I am often in search of great images I can use in my courses. Very simply, a great image for me is an icon, a photo, a graphic or clipart that I can use to raise visual appeal or to illustrate a concept in some area of my course. If you often find yourself in my position, turning to the search engines of the World Wide Web to locate a great image, read on.

The internet is a truly expansive reservoir of images and turning to it to locate an appropriate visual can be easy, fun and effective. That’s the easy part. Increasing challenge comes in finding an image that is without copyright, or “open” for use without violating the copyrights of the owner of the image. Truth be told, many of us would probably agree that we’ve often been tempted to use a simple Google Image search to locate a visual that meets our needs and to then hit that copy or save button to ‘snag’ the image for our use. The flip side to this is that many of us would also say we believe copyrights should be honored. It’s simply good practice and it is what we would each want if the copyrights were ours.

So, on to the valuable resources that may soon become a part of your resource toolbox. Let me share with you 8 sites you can use to locate graphics, icons, photos or clipart the next time you find yourself looking for that great image.

Stock.xchng 6.0

This site is a go-to resource for photos. Their stock photography catalog is extensive (350,000 images). Additional features, including capability to comment on photos, browse photos by New Additions, Top Images or Subject area as well as a community blog and tutorial posts, add to the site interest. Note that when running a search, two categories of content may appear. Towards the top of your results page, you’ll find all of the free content available that matches your search criteria. You’ll also find a second heading of results towards the bottom of the page. This second category provides additional suggestions and links to premium content that can be purchased from If you browse through all free photography results and find that you prefer an image from the premium content category, you may decide to purchase the desired image.

Creative Commons Service Search

This site provides a central point of access to search services provided by other organizations. After typing in a keyword for your search, click on the service you would like to use to obtain relevant search results. Available services include Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia Commons, Open Clip Art Library and more. Search open resources for images and additional content you can use, share or remix.

Microsoft Office Image Gallery

This site is a well-recognized go-to resource, in part because it is embedded in Microsoft applications such as Word and Powerpoint. Use the direct web link listed above to run searches for illustrations, photos, animations and sounds. You can also browse through thousands of images by gallery including featured collections like “basketball” or general categories such as “sports.” Get news about free clip art, images and other content through the Templates and Images blog:

Open ClipArt Library

This site is one of my all-time favorites and I return to it often. Open ClipArt Library is “the Largest Collaboration Community that creates, shares and remixes clipart. All clipart is released to the public domain and may be used in any project for free and with no restrictions.” It doesn’t get much easier than that! The site is easy to navigate and the images are high quality. You can run an image search by Keyword, Artist, Collection and more. You can even download image “packages”, such as “Presidents” or “Flags of the World”, in a convenient zip file. You can also subscribe to the mailing list, become a supporter and/or contribute images of your own.

Open Icon Library

Open Icon Library is an archive of icon files gather from various sources. The site is designed to offer a single location for free and open icons for anyone to use on their computer, website or any other project. The Library boasts a collection of over 10,000 unique icons. Note that using the site feels like a bit of a navigational challenge. From the homepage, click on “Online Icon Gallery” and then click on “Icon” or “Symbol” to browse my topics and categories such as “Actions” or “Devices”. Finally, click on the icon image to get to the download page.


Ok, so Cooltext is not a clipart site or a photo site, but it’s a pretty handy one-stop-shop for generating font graphics. Have you ever wanted to add a banner to a Unit Home Page? Or, perhaps you’ve desired to spice up those PowerPoint slides with meaningful and colorful titles? Cooltext offers you a fast way to select from over 1,200 font styles, type in your title or text, and download it as an image file with a neat transparent background. Check it out!

Turbo Photo

Turbo Photo offers a collection of royalty-free images that are easily accessible via a simple interface. But don’t let the simplicity of the site fool you! Behind the basic 10 categories to choose from, there are over 2,000 photographs waiting to be used in your course. With categories ranging from Plants and Food to Cities and Landscapes, you’ll be sure to find a suitable fit for your online environment.

Flickr: Free Use Photos

Most of us have heard of Flickr Photos, the image hosting and video hosting website that allows users to upload, organize and share their photos across the internet. But perhaps few of us have heard about the Flickr Free Use Photos Group. This is a group “where members can share photos that can be used without any copyright restrictions.” All of the images contributed to this group are free and there is no need to submit for permission to use. The nice part of this project is that if you are interested, you can join the 500+ members of this group and contribute some of your own camera work to the growing collection.

Now its time to start!

Copy and paste the following link into your internet browser's address bar to open all of these sites at the same time. Check them out and then tag one or tag them all as your favorite to easily return in the future.


You can also scan the QR Code (short for "Quick Response"), which contains access to all of the websites I've referenced in the post. (A QR Code is essentially a barcode that carries data which can be scanned by most smart phone cameras. Be sure to download a QR Code Reader App that will utilize your phone's camera like a scanner, allowing it to "read" the barcode. I personally use ScanLife for iPhone free app available for download at the iTunes App Store).

QR Code:


Have you used any of these sites to locate images for your courses? Do you have a favorite site you like to use? Consider sharing by commenting on this blog post. We’d love your input!

Rachel Cubas

Academic Trainer & Consultant
Assessment & Analytics Group | Academic Training & Consulting (ATC)

Filed under: eLearning 1 Comment

Head in The Cloud

Recently, I was working with one of Pearson’s latest and greatest new products, OpenClass. Here are a couple of talking points about OpenClass for consideration:

  • In The Cloud — Our cloud-based architecture gives us the unique ability to evolve rapidly and incrementally – without the need for large-scale upgrades or major upheavals in user experience. New releases are instant, with no need to schedule downtime or interrupt your service. But we also recognize that control and customization are important, so we'll always announce when new features are available and provide you with the option to test-drive them before ultimately rolling them out to your institution.
  • On The Go — OpenClass is already extending the experience of learning to mobile phones and tablets, and mobile functionality is improving every day. Dedicated apps for Apple iOS and Google Android are in development and we'll be opening up our mobile API's for institutions to advance and customize as they choose.

Okay, so that’s the commercial for OpenClass. Let’s talk about these two concepts — the cloud and mobile technology — as they relate to building courses in OpenClass and indeed how it will relate to many mobile-based solutions going forward.

Flash back briefly to a blog post I wrote in September 2011, “Why the iPad Didn’t Work for Me.” One of the features (or lack thereof) that I didn’t like was that in trying to build content in my courses, I couldn’t browse to files, such as images, and upload them to my course. That is, I had no equivalent of the “Finder” on my Mac or “Libraries” on my Windows 7 computer. So, when I wanted to insert an image, I had no way to actually grab it and put it in my content page.

Now, flash forward to today and the rapid expansion of the use of tablets. Recently, eMarketer wrote an article estimating of tablet usage through 2014. Here’s a chart of their results:

Chart of Growth in Tablet Usage Through 2014

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that our nation’s population will grow to 321 million by 2014. That means that approximately 28% of all men, women, and children in the U.S. will be using a tablet within two years. Staggering!

Why should we care? Apple revolutionized the use of the tablet when it did not include a file manager system in the iPad. Google’s Android OS is similar. If you want to access a file, you need to have it already on the Web somewhere — in other words, in The Cloud. There are literally thousands (maybe millions?) of apps that already do this. I can take a photo on my Droid and upload it to Flickr. I can shoot a video on my iPad, edit it with iMovie, and upload it to YouTube. I can apply really neat effects to a photo with Instagram and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and a bunch of other sites.

All of these services are in the cloud. In fact, if I wanted to have one of these files locally, I would first have to download it from the cloud. Very little of my mobile computing experience is actually transferred to my computer anymore, and I expect your experience is similar.

It is therefore appropriate that my learning management system would also be cloud-based, which brings me back to OpenClass. Recently I was writing a Share post in OpenClass. The Share tool is kind of a combination blog and twitter feed with lots of other bells and whistles that make it easy for students and instructors to share ideas with their class, across classes or other groups, or even across the entire institution. I noticed in the Visual Editor in Share I have the option to enter URLs for photos and videos. What’s the point of that?, I wondered. Why wouldn’t I just browse to the image on my hard drive?

Then it hit me: mobile…cloud… Ah, yes! I can create my Share post on my iPad, and I can use Share’s Visual Editor to paste in links to YouTube videos, images on Flickr, and so on. So, if I keep my content in the cloud, I can access it on my mobile device or my computer (or even on someone else’s computer), without any trouble. It’s in the cloud; it’s always there.

So, the more I move my learning materials to the cloud, the easier it will be for me to access them from mobile devices and share them with my students — more and more of whom will be accessing courses on their mobile devices. It’s an inevitable shift. How might you make the cloud work for you?

Rob Kadel, Ph.D.
Pearson Academic Training & Consulting


Who’s Got Game?

I’m usually pretty excited to get my hands on each year’s NMC Horizon Report. I love to see what people think may be the next big, new thing. In fact, if you ask my teammates, I’m sure they’d tell you that I’m the “new adopter” in the group; always willing to jump in and try things out, even those things might yet be half baked. In fact, I’m probably the ‘Mikey’ (remember Life cereal?) of the group. So when I downloaded my copy of the 2012 Higher Edition version of the report, I quickly turned to the contents page to see what the future of education holds. And, honestly, I wasn’t surprised. It seems that the list of things to change culture and education has stabilized. Nothing is quite brand-spakin’ new. Right now, the neonates on the scene are just growing. For instance, we’ve all seen and critiqued the iPad by now and the ‘new’ iPad is a simply the next version of a known quantity.

As I thought about this, I realized that what I really want to know is not what might be next in education, I want to know what new is being done now.

Let’s take one of this year’s emerging technologies that’s made a strong presence on the 2-to-3-year-out list for the last two years running: game-based learning. Many articles and blogs and research papers have been written over the last couple (ok, ten) years, including an interesting blog post by Justin Marquis on the merits of game-based learning in higher education. In the post, Justin summarizes and analyzes a TED talk by Jane McGonical where she asserts four ways gaming can help solve our world problems taking queues from World of Warcraft gamers. (Quick aside: Who are these World of Warcraft people anyway? I mean, who creates this world that is so engaging and thrilling that millions of hours are spent in it? Or, perhaps the better question is, what can we as educators learn from them?) Similarly, James Gee gives twelve ways games can teach. Ok, so we’ve heard a lot that game-based learning can be good teaching. But is it being done?

Yes, there are the ‘usual suspects’ (Evoke, Septris, 3D GameLab), but these all could fall into the ‘special cases’ or ‘special efforts ‘category. What I want to know is if game-based learning is making it into the regular flow of curriculum and course design. The Horizon report says “The average age of the American gamer is now 35-years-old” which means two things: 1) I’m older than I thought and 2) at 35 there have got to be a lot of gamers out there in education. I have to believe that at least some of the instructional designers and faculty working today fall into the range of 35 +/- 8 years or so.

Have you or a colleague played around (yes, pun intended) with applying game theory or any gaming elements to your course, curriculum, assessment or even program? What did you try? What was the response? Will game-based learning be a generational movement in education? Is there resistance to game-based learning at your institution? Why? Lack of time? Not convinced there are benefits? Join the conversation our our Pearson eCollege Academic Training & Consulting team Facebook page.

Luke Cable | Academic Trainer & Consultant


Should I Flip My Classroom?

As I prepare for my Educator’s Voice article coming up in April, I often try to tie my blog post into the article. This way, one feeds into the other or vice versa. April’s article will be about hybrid or blended teaching and learning. So today, I’m going to talk a little bit about the Flipped Classroom.  I first heard about the flipped classroom concept in June 2010 at the ISTE conference.  I attended the conference session by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. They seem to get most of the credit for developing and implementing this idea for teaching in a face-to-face course or in a hybrid course. Additionally, I saw Eric Mazur present a keynote at the Building Learning Communities conference last summer in 2011. His presentation was about blowing up classroom lectures. So his ideas tie in here as well.

If we think about the technology explosion in teaching in the first decade of this 21st century, those of us teaching throughout have seen ideas come and go. We heard about Podcasts or vodcasts as far back as 8 years ago. Many of us tried it and it was an easy idea to implement because it didn’t require advanced software or advanced technology skills. So I attended that session at ISTE in 2010 because my interest was piqued. Hadn’t we already seen all the uses of Podcast in a classroom? In fact, my presentation for that conference was on Podcasts and other not so obvious ways you can use them in your classroom. I have not done that session since. It is pretty much exhausted.

So what is it about the flipped classroom? While Bergmann and Sams are high school teachers, the concept fits universally throughout all levels of education. Regardless of the age of the students, if they have access to the Podcast/vodcasts, it can be a very effective technology teaching tool. In a nutshell, an instructor who uses flipped teaching or flipped classrooms create teaching videos to replace the lecture they would traditionally present in their course. These videos are assigned as homework or outside activities. Then, the instructors take advantage of the face time to problem solve, go through what would traditionally be homework problems, or work with hands on activities. It is all the really good learning that we all know about but always say—I wish I had more time to do that kind of stuff. However, we do have the time. We just need to flip our classroom.

Anyone working in the online learning realm has heard the phrases” sage on the stage” and “guide on the side” from J. W. Wesley back in 2000. Effective online content creators build courses where the role of the instructor is moved from the spotlight to the helpful assistant on the side. The flipped classroom instructor takes advantage of the same concept in his/her course where face-to-face time is precious and must be maximized to give the students the most bang for their buck.

This info-graphic created by does a great job of summarizing flipped classrooms as well and giving some ideas for getting started. It includes embed code as well. If you are just now warming to the idea of using Podcasts, there are many resources out there to assist and get you started. If you want to dip your toe in the proverbial flipped classroom water, check out some of the resources below. You may find that you can transform your class face time to much more enriching activities addressing higher order thinking skills without needing to be a technology genius.

Pamela Kachka | Academic Trainer & Consultant, Teaching & Learning Group | Pearson eCollege

Works Cited and Resources:
Flip teaching
. (2012, March 5). Retrieved from

The flipped classroom infographic. (2011). Retrieved from

Iste conference 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The november learning blog the latest news and reflections from the nl team. (2011, October). Retrieved from

Overmyer, J. (n.d.). Vodcasting and the flipped classroom. Retrieved from

Podcast. (2012, March 3). Retrieved from

Westerberg, C.J. (2011, November 15). The flipped class: Myths vs. reality. Retrieved from