Correctly Attributing Creative Commons Photos in your E-learning Projects

One consideration when working on any e-learning project that both instructional designers and the subject matter expert (or client) have to decide early on is what look & feel to give a project.  By look and feel, were not just talking about the user interface for the course.  The imagery you use should follow similar design influences to avoid giving the project an amateurish or incoherent look.  For example, when building an e-learning solution for a bank, they made clear to our team that clip art or “anything that looked cartoon-ish” was unacceptable in their culture and should be avoided in the project.  They felt it would diminish the serious of the compliance topic we were going to teach. 

Couple this design consideration with a very little to nonexistent budget for the purchase of stock photography or a dedicated graphic designer and your new project can quickly turn into a nightmare.  One thing you can do to alleviate this constraint is to use imagery distributed under a creative commons license.  In order to do this however, it is important for you to properly follow any attribution guidelines requested by the provider of the image.  This infographic can give you some pretty good best practices to follow when using this type of image. 

Where can you find these images you ask?  Two of my favorite sources are and


Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, or via Twitter@collabor8alex.