The Use of Images in Online Learning: A Qualitative Content Analysis

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Images can improve learning and performance. However, research suggests that many online educators and instructional designers lack the knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively create and use images when designing online courses and instructional materials. Given this problem, we conducted a qualitative content analysis of images used within 20 different college courses to better understand how images are used in online courses. After creating a new image categorization, we coded 232 images. Results found that while only 27% of images in online courses were educational, other types of images can still serve important roles in online courses. The results were used to create a new framework for image use in online learning. We conclude the paper with recommendations that can help online educators and instructional designers select images for the online courses they design and teach.