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1.4 Image manipulation

Images can be used to great effect in an online or blended learning experience. They can illustrate a concept, provide emotional impact, reinforce learning, or simply add visual decoration.

Rather than including images only in their original form, try using free graphics software to manipulate and annotate images. For example, a teacher could digitally alter one image and post it alongside the original, asking learners to ‘spot the differences’. Another option is to obscure elements of an image and ask learners to predict what is hidden (this method works especially well with mathematical or chemical equations).

Images can also be used to:

  • support communications with students or other staff;
  • provide additional non-textual information;
  • save time when creating digital content;
  • help students or staff remember the material better and sometimes inspire them to act.


Ensure that the resolution and file sizes of your images are appropriate. If the resolution is too low, details may not be sufficiently clear, especially for students using certain displays or magnification software. Conversely, images with a very high resolution can mean huge file sizes that take a long time to download for anyone with a slower internet connection.

File sizes can be checked by looking at the ‘properties’ of the file in your computer’s file manager. While software tools all differ, there are generally options when saving a file that allow resolution or quality to be changed. Also ensure that you have provided a description of the image so that students unable to view it can still understand what is being depicted (you will learn more about making online education more accessible and inclusive in Week 7).