Best Image Type for eLearning

This course will introduce several image types common to eLearning.

Course Overview

Objective, Preparation, Navigation


Select the image type most appropriate given an eLearning development scenario.


You will receive basic information on three image types common in eLearning development. After a quick knowledge check on each image type, you will be given two scenarios. In each scenario, your goal will be to optimize an image for eLearning. Following the scenarios, there are two short post-test questions to reaffirm your expertise.


You may complete the various sections of this lesson in any order you wish, but I recommend starting at the top section and working down the list. This will ensure that you have the background information necessary to complete the scenarios.

JPEG image types

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPEGs save storage space. They save space due to lossy compression

Image editors perform lossy compression by comparing every 8x8 block of pixels that make up the image to 64 standard patterns, then determining how much “weight” each of those 64 patterns contributes to that block. Upon saving a JPEG, the higher frequency patterns (the higher contrast ones) are reduced according to whether you save your JPEG as high, medium, or low quality. 

The higher the quality of your image, the less reduction among high contrast patterns, but our eyes really cannot distinguish quality differences in contrast over such a tiny 8x8 pixel block anyway so don't be afraid to save low quality JPEGs!

See it to believe it ...

In summary, JPEGs save space by eliminating high frequency patterns that your eyes don't really notice anyway.

So what's the catch?  JPEG compression works best with photographic images since the amount of detail in a photo hides compression artifacts.  

Why are JPEG image types a good choice for eLearning development?

  • JPEG compression works great with all types of images.
  • JPEG compression helps save storage space.

TIFF image types

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

TIFF is a flexible file format for handling images and data (e.g., size, definition, image-data arrangement, and applied image compression) within a single file.

The ability to store image and data in a lossless format makes the TIFF image type a useful image archive. Unlike standard JPEG files, a lossless TIFF may be edited and re-saved without losing image quality. In preparing an eLearning that requires you to perform edits to images, the TIFF format helps you maintain high image integrity while editing and saving your images between edits. 

So what's the catch? Due to the amount of image data associated with a TIFF, this image type is not optimized for online viewing. TIFFs are unnecessarily large image types that can suck up storage space and slow down your learners.

Identify how TIFF image types can affect eLearning and eLearning development.

  • TIFF image types may slow down an eLearning.
  • TIFF image types save storage space.
  • TIFF image types include both image and data information.
  • TIFF images types take up a lot of storage space.

PNG image types

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

PNGs were initially intended for sending images over the Internet. PNGs help reduce the file size of graphic heavy images (like images with a lot of vector art) without introducing distortion due to compression or a limited color palette. 

Regardless of the type of image, a defining characteristic of the PNG image type is its ability to preserve a transparent background. This makes the PNG an optimal choice for images like logos or when you want to remove a distracting background from an image. Cool right?

See it to believe it ...

So what's the catch? Did you notice anything squirrelly in the "see it to believe" it section? 

PNG image types might end up being larger than a JPG of the same picture and dimensions. This is due to PNGs use lossless compression. That is, there is no attempt to reduce the amount of visual data in the file upon save. 

In summary, to maximize storage space, the use of PNGs in eLearning should be confined to heavy graphic images or when you need to preserve a transparent background.

Select the PNG file.

Tying it all together ...


Let's bring this all together.

Now that you have a basic understanding of some of the image file types that eLearning developers generally come into contact with, it's time to apply your knowledge.

The challenge.

You'll be given two scenarios. In each, you are tasked with optimizing an image for eLearning. Your goal is to select the best action(s) given the scenario. 

Art History eLearning

Graphic Design eLearning

Recap ...


Let's recap.

Nice work interacting with others in order to solve their eLearning image type dilemmas. As a recap on your recent experience, take a moment to reaffirm why your selections were the best choices available to you at the time.

Why are JPEG image types preferable over TIFF image types? Select all that apply.

  • Lossy compression
  • They store Image data like the size and definition of the image
  • Lossless compression
  • High frequency patterns are eliminated
  • Graphics do not suffer compression artifacts
  • Save on storage space
  • Transparent backgrounds are preserved

Select the most distinct attribute of a PNG image type.

  • Lossy compression
  • Preserves transparency
  • Serves as an image archive

Ending thoughts ...



This eLearning introduced you to several image types common to eLearning. You are well versed in why JPEG image types triumph over TIFFs in eLearning, and you understand when a PNG is the better choice of image type during eLearning development.

For OPWL 525 instructor eyes only

The theme/design choices allowed for some reuse across "slides" (specifcally buttons, text) and the default formatting is similar to text/content areas that one might use to create a PowerPoint master slide. 

Backgrounds, images, content slides, headers, content areas, inserting media, branching, assessments are all easily had in this application. 

I did not find a way to add custom navigation as I was creating the module (but perhaps that is available in the other eLearning formats offered). At this point, it feels like I'm stuck with the default settings for a table of contents and sections. But, the embedded software for creating scenarios provided a lot of control over a learner progressing versus having to retry, which is nice. 

I definitely did not like having separate views for preview/editing. I felt like I spent a lot of time going in/out of preview and edit screens when it's just easier (and seems totally plausible) to edit whilst previewing. 

Summary of the blow-by-blow that resulted in my choice of easygenerator

A start to finish travelogue where CAPS mean I was frustrated only with the user experience:

  • Scrolling though list … there are several without hyperlinks. I think eLearning Industry must not have much faith in them if they are not willing to link me to their sites. 
  • EasyProf’s site looked hinky to me .. misspelling everywhere, links that did not work. Once I discovered it was French made, I thought it would be OK. BUT, Windows only so no-go with that time spent and needless download of who knows what. Woulda been nice to know their platform requirements beforehand. Criteria 1: if the product's site cannot provide a good experience, their product probably doesn't do much better.
  • QuickLessons website is not in English. There is no “easy” button to translate to English … not using it.
  • Trying Elucidate now … do they not provide you with full account access on free sign-ups? It was terrible … I watched (but may not have really learned from) the “begin” tutorials and stuff along the way. I created a project, some slides, and started assigning slide types and in no time flat … there wasn’t a means on the page to delete or reorder slides and I’m not sure what miraculous mash-up of keystrokes caused this, but when I went onto the next page, I could TYPE NOTHING in a text box. I looked, but didn’t see the ‘Edit’ icon they’re going on about in their videos. I’m using Mozilla’s latest … nowhere (easily) did I see OS or browser specs. Ugh.
  • Going to CAT … looks like the only thing I can sign up for are blogs and newsletters … not doing this one either.
  • Artisan … by same “banker’s edge” as CAT so not even gonna click on it
  • Trying ProProfs now … OMG … three times to get the account open. Norman Nielsen top 10: protect users from errors by giving them what they need to know. Username strength parameters should be on the page. After creating the account, there WAS NO change in screen … is my account created? I went through creation process again. Guess what, my account was already created. UM … why not just log me in upon account creation? AND I COULDN'T EVEN LOGIN OR SIGNUP USING DIFF CREDS. OMG.
  • eLearning maker … um, not sure that hyperlink is right. It looks like a talent management site, but there are some learning module things on it. It says free trial, not free account. Trial sounds hard. Looking farther. 
  • Coursebuilders site has a lot of moving people on it w/ no sound. Creeps me out. They have a learning section, but they want me to “get in touch” not “sign and try for free” so scrolling along. 

Oman … it’s a great idea to play around with lots of stuff, but my time is limited. I'm over an hour now with a few failed attempts under my belt, I’m using easygenerator. I’m going with what was proven/"easy" (and go figure, it is top of the list) since it’ll take me more than 41 minutes to complete the assignment requirements as written in a first-use-of-software scenario.