If you do a search online you’ll find all sorts of free assets like free stock images, icons, fonts and other media that work perfectly for your elearning courses. But often you find that free isn’t really free. Instead, free is free with strings attached.
One of my pet peeves is people who give away free assets and then only allow them to be used for personal use. I guess there’s a big demand for free stock images and free fonts for family use. While it’s the asset creator’s prerogative to attach strings, personally I find it kind of lame. Either it’s free or not. Why work to get eyes on your product and then create that sort of friction? However, if that’s the stipulation then we need to stick by it and respect the desires of the content authors. Mostly likely those resources won’t work for your project.
Another issue is that the free content comes with attribution requirements. That’s much better than free for personal use only. But it still creates some friction because the attribution requirement may conflict with your project.
How to give proper credit to the creator of the assets and still maintain a professional looking course is a challenge. Here are a few ways to attribute content to the asset creator.
Add Attribution Credits to the Image or Slide
- Credits on the image. This is the easiest, but doesn’t always look good.
- Credits as a caption. This is also easy and easy to template. It also creates consistency, but still can be a bit distracting.
The two options above are fine for school projects, but don’t look very professional. They also only allow for text descriptions and URLs. But no hyperlink to the creator’s site.
- Mouseover credits as the person moves the mouse over the image the credits appear. They can be over the image or as a caption box and you can link to the site.
- Add credits and links at the bottom of the screen. This works but may look a bit busy and not many clients want to see a bunch of outside content in their course screens.
Add Attribution Credits to the Course Player Tabs
- Use the player’s resource tab. Change the resource tab to read “credits” and then add links to the sites. This is really easy and looks nice.
- Use Engage to create an “About” player tab. Add information about the organization and course developers. An additional section could be attribution for free resources with a link back.
- Lightbox slides on player tabs. Create a custom slide and insert it using the lightbox feature. This lets you make it look any way you want and add any type of information and links back to the site.
Personally I like the resource tab and lightbox options. The resource tab is simple and the lightbox means I can make the credit page look anyway I want. Icons8 allows this for their free content. You can find it in their licensing. And I’m sure most of the others would, too.
If you’re not sure, ask the source of the free content. I’ve found that often they’re happy that people are getting use out of the free assets and appreciate that I’ve even bothered asking. Often they’ve given me permission to use their assets. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Here’s a published version of the different ways to attribute the free resources if you want to see them in action.
What do you do when you get free assets that require attribution? How have you attributed free content in your elearning courses?
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