By Kim Loenhart, Educational Technology Support, EDC

Well-chosen images offer powerful teaching potential. Perhaps nothing gets people talking more than a compelling image or a visual mystery. Consider the viral online discussion surrounding the white and gold dress (or blue and black dress, if you’re one of those people).  This simple image of a dress, and the discussion that it generated, caused people to question their perceptions and thinking.

But beyond the Twitter debate, the image also generated a scientific discussion on colour perception in the human eye. This is just one example of how an image can get people debating and digging deeper; images can stimulate attention and curiosity in learning.

The benefits of using images extend beyond attention and curiosity though. A 2012 article in Psychology Today indicates that well-chosen visuals can make learning happen faster, can improve comprehension, enhance the retrieval of information, and increase information retention (Kouyoumdjian). Essentially, images make learning easier, deeper and longer lasting.

At the heart of these learning benefits is the fact that we make sense of images faster than we make sense of words. Indeed, half of the human brain is devoted in some way to vision (Sur as cited in MIT News, Dec.19, 1996).  We are biologically designed to process and think about what we see.

At a recent PowerPoint workshop at the EDC, participants asked where they could find good images online. It’s a question we have heard a lot lately. How can you get high quality images to use in your course cuLearn page or lecture slides? As it turns out, there are a lot of different online sources for images.

Here are just a few places to find royalty-free and public domain images that are free to use in your course:

Want to know how to insert and use images in your cuLearn course site? Interested in learning more about image resizing or basic editing? Join us for a Basic Image Editing workshop on May 23 from 1-2:30 p.m. Register here.

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