Every year, we see more e-learning resources available online for free. Whether you want to publish better videos, improve your design, or just spice up your content a little, there’s an app or website that can help you do just that without costing you a penny.

Get Free Stock Art

If you create online content for a living, you probably know what a headache it can be to search for and secure rights to imagery. Freeimages takes the pain out of finding stock imagery by making the process easy and free.

With more than 350,000 images from 30,000 photographers, odds are good that you’ll find something that’s at least close to what you’re looking for. A search for “students” resulted in 127 images … not bad for a free site. And you won’t need a law degree to decipher the legalese—the site clearly spells out how you can and can’t use its images.

Find Your Colors

When you’re working in PowerPoint, it’s not easy to pull colors from images. You can waste a lot of time taking screenshots or trying to pull up a color wheel to match your color hues. But the good news is you don’t have to waste your time—or money.

Pixie is a simple (and free) color picker that lets you hover your mouse over any pixel on your screen, and it tells you the color info: HEX, HTML, RGB, CMYK, and HSV value, to be specific. You can then use this information to reproduce the color in your favorite programs.

Create a Killer Color Scheme

Color Schemer is just what it sounds like—a (free) tool that helps you create color schemes. Simply enter an RGB or HEX value or pick a color from the tool’s color palette and—voila—you get a color scheme that coordinates nicely with the color you picked.

You can use Color Schemer with Pixie, too. Just use Pixie to pick a color from an image (or logo) and then go to Color Schemer to create a complementary color scheme. Once you have a color scheme that makes you happy, you can use it throughout your whole course. Easy peasy!

Edit Your Photos for Free

Many e-learning professionals buy expensive graphics editors and then only use them for basic tasks. Before you buy a powerful application like Photoshop, why not see if you can get away with something simple, like Paint.net?

Paint.net all the features you’d expect to find in a modern image editor, like layers, filters, and a history pane, all wrapped up in a simple and user-friendly interface. And it’s free.

If you ever find you do need more power, for stuff like custom brushes or running automated scripts, you can move on to Gimp. Gimp’s more complex and harder to use, but it’s packed with features and, best of all, free.

Add Audio Effects

A little audio works wonders in engaging your learners. Audacity is a free download that helps you create, import, and edit digital audio for your courses. Audacity can record audio through a microphone or from cassette tapes, CD/DVD disks, and streaming audio. It’s easy enough for the basic stuff you’ll do when creating online courses (like recording sound files and inserting them into PowerPoint) and sophisticated enough if you need to do more (like creating fade in/out effects).

Convert Media from One Format to Another

If you want to convert media from one format to another, Format Factory is a handy tool. It lets you create audio and video files without worrying about whether your learners can play them on their smartphones or tablets. And as an added bonus, it comes with built-in presets that will, with one click, create videos for just about any mobile device.

There you have them—our top picks for free tools! Which are your favorites? Are there any cool (and free) tools you think are missing? Leave us a note in the comments below.

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Georg Volmer