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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)

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