Top 4 Upskilling Resources for Instructional Designers

Even instructional designers need advice from time to time. Likewise, prospective instructors need resources and points of reference in order to advance in their profession. Where to go and what to study? Is there a ready-made recipe? Check out some tips from fellow educators and instructional designers and evaluate the opportunities out there.

What points of reference can you use?

1. Colleges

My personal pick would be Indiana University Bloomington‘s program in Instructional Systems Technology. The course is crafted by the best minds of instructional design (ID) and happens to be a challenging and rewarding experience. There is an online program available as well.

When considering a college, make sure you familiarize yourself with Connie Malamed’s list. Connie unveils an elaborate directory of on-site, online, graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs in the field of ID, e-Learning and educational technology.

Dip into it, and check whether your program of choice has accreditation and sign up to master your skills!

2. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and other online classes

Apart from Connie’s blog, feel free to check out MOOC List and You can’t go wrong using these resources for an extensive search.

Online classes for ID at UCI Extension are reputed to be a great value. They are not cheap, but they definitely deliver on their promise. If you’re looking for certification, you need to take six classes, costing roughly $600 per class. At Langevin, you’d be required to attend eight classes which cost anywhere between $600 and $2,000, or try an accelerated course at a discounted rate.

Since modern ID is, in fact, a successful combination of knowledge and technology, it makes sense to resort to a consultation service that would highlight both. Try Instructional Design Consulting at Apparently, it has a marketing stance to it, so you’ll need to register an account in their system.

3. Books

ID books filling up a normal-sized library sounds slightly exaggerated, yet you could certainly equip a few shelves. Check out a couple of suggestions that may be of interest:

Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses by Marina Arshavskiy. This is an essential guide for crafting e-Learning courses that targets aspiring instructional designers. The book gives you a basic understanding of what ID for e-Learning is. It includes tables, surveys, checklists and tons of helpful visual material. Instructional Design for ELearning unveils the key principles of engaging content that helps the audience to gain and retain the knowledge.

Instructional Design that Soars: Shaping What You Know Into Classes That Inspire by Guila Muir. This clearly illustrated book guides you from conception to delivery of online classes. Suitable for a non-academic audience, the book provides templates and checklists that could be a great kick-off for your materials. Ten short chapters take you through all the planning stages of a course.

The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice by Abbie H. Brown and Timothy D. Green. The Essentials of Instructional Design presents the fundamental elements of ID to novice students. The book covers the key procedures within ID, such as learner, task and needs analysis; developing goals; organizing instruction; developing activities; assessing accomplishments, and evaluating the results.

ISD From the Ground Up: A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design Paperback by Chuck Hodell. Clearly written and full of practical ideas, ISD From the Ground Up is a valuable resource for students and new trainers as well as seasoned technicians. The book follows a solid ID project and delivers a general overview of the process as well as practical insights. May be employed as a start-to-finish tutorial or as go-to material for trainers to review specific chapters when needed. Basic and advanced skills, templates, tips for success and a comprehensive glossary of ID all in one place.

4. Blogs and sites

Moving on to online editions, I’d like to recommend a few blogs and e-Learning sites that would catch the eye of an instructional designer.

For instance, Cathy Moore’s blog makes some great reading. Cathy is a globally acknowledged training designer whose advice and approach have been taken on board by such diverse organizations as Microsoft, Pfizer, the US Army, Barclays, and the US Department of the Interior. She’s the creator of the action mapping method used by institutions across the world. Through her blog, Cathy shares knowledge and ideas with over 14,000 followers.

Learning Solutions Magazine, a publication of The eLearning Guild since 2002, is one of the most seasoned and trusted editions in the e-Learning industry. This resource spans tools, technologies, services, ID, best practices, development and deployment of e-Learning software, and much more. Learning Solutions Magazine offers feature articles, reviews, interviews, spotlights, tips and news that will help your decision-making in things e-Learning.

E-Learning 24/7 is another great source of information delivered by Craig Weiss. Craig is an e-Learning analyst and consultant whose company gives professional advice and support to buyers and suppliers in the e-Learning industry. His blog is read in 154 countries. He is also the author of the book “How To Guide for an LMS” that covers everything from LMS selection to implementation and maintenance.

Last but not least on my rather spontaneous list is the major online community eLearning Industry. This portal has been designed to share ideas via e-Learning articles and help instructional designers and educators find new exciting projects.

In conclusion

Turns out instructional designers have quite an ecosystem in place for gaining new knowledge, career advancement and professional contacts. Regardless of the growing scale and mushrooming industry players, e-Learning remains a close-knit community where you can still turn to experts and peers for advice, no questions asked and no fee required. If you are serious about becoming a successful instructional designer or reinventing your experience, there are many roads to success! Some take more time and effort, others are more costly, and still others are free to use with no strings attached. The advice here is that you find the right combination, and, ultimately, keep your course engaging and meaningful.


Please take a minute to share your opinion. Much appreciated!

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1 thought on “Top 4 Upskilling Resources for Instructional Designers”

  1. Informative blog! There are so many people who are searching for instructional design process,instruction designers. I am sure now they will find enough resources. Keep sharing such kind of posts!


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