Been to any good classes lately?

Oct 17, 2016

Imagine:  Corporate instructional designer needs to spend $$ on professional development. What areas or resources would you focus on? What if the classes were online, what areas or resources? Which would you prefer?

28 Replies
Bob S

"Business Basics for Training Veterans" or something along those lines.   Yes, I'm serious. I think this is an area where many IDs still struggle. While we always talk about meeting the learner at their level, so many of us do not do the same when it comes to stakeholders. 

At the end  of the day we are a business expense/investment.  So we need to be able to understand and interface  effectively in ways that our stakeholders appreciate and find value in.... or we won't have to worry about interfacing at all.


Jackie Van Nice

Hi Crisa!

At first I was thinking you needed to spend the money for your department, but perhaps it's for yourself? In either case I'd look at what your needs are. (A bit of gap analysis.)

If you have a measurable and/or known need for training on a particular subject (like interpreting financial statements), or for broader-based skills (like being able to present well), or for training-industry-specific skills (like learning the latest about applying brain science in e-learning) - I'd focus on those areas as you make your choices.

Tracy's idea of using is fantastic. They have great breadth of subject matter and all of the advantages of e-learning, plus their premium membership level gives you files you can download and use for practice.    

If you want to stay on top of the latest in e-learning, I'd invest in training and/or conferences specific to our field. The eLearning Guild and ATD may be good places to start. 

Have fun!

Scott Kaye

Agree with Jackie.  The first step would be to determine who would get the training and what their needs are.  As a self-taught ID, there are plenty of free resources, but I have occasionally used which I think is great.  I'm a big fan of the training format.  

Personally, I learn the best by reverse-engineering.  Finding a course that I really like and trying to figure out how it was made (or even better looking at the structure if I have the source files).  i take the techniques and add my own creative spin.  For this, any number of companies with pre-made training resources works.  I have had god experiences with E-learning Brothers.

blair parkin

If it is for your personal development then I would echo the other comments to identify what your needs or gaps are. I would also suggest looking at your soft skill development: negotiating, time management, communication etc.

If you are looking to develop more of your technical skills DevLearn is just around the corner...

Veronica Budnikas

Indeed what a great problem to have!

Everything said already is great. I use; at first I wasn't sure that the yearly membership would be worth it, but I was so wrong, I find it so incredibly useful.

If this were me, I would look at what my gaps are and also what new things I could learn. For example, learn a bit about animation and perhaps purchase an off-the-shelf animation tool to add to your repertoire. Or learn some Javascript to really bring your courses to the next level.

There are so many possibilities, good luck!

Emily Bramley


I'd agree with Phil on the illustration courses, or just graphic design courses in general - there are some great Photoshop and Illustrator Adobe approved courses out there and even some great free tutorials online. The ability to design your own beautiful graphics for elearning is definitely one to invest in!

Look at whiteboard animation software - I've developed a few of these and they work really well as videos embedded into an Articulate course. 


Crisa McCarty

Thank you for the thorough answer, Jackie.  This year, we have no travel budget so classes must be online (eliminating many conferences). They will be in addition to our existing and other resource memberships. 

Staff on whom the dollars will be spent have a minimum of 10 years in position.

So I'm truly digging for the unexpected sources of education or the classes/skills that may have surprised you as valuable -- like Bob S's suggestion of Business Basics for Training Veterans. What areas might you explore?

Rachel Edelstein-penn

I would suggest design courses such as InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark or any others such as this.  I got thrown into having to use these tools at my last job and I have found that it really allows me to make my training materials (whether for e-learning or ILT) much more professional looking and more readable. 

Marti Stemm

I have used for 9 years and I can't recommend it enough.  Originally they only have computer courses, but in the last couple of years they have added soft skills.   I have a budget limit so I don't buy the user files, but if you can afford them buy them too. 

You might also check with your area college and find out if they have a business development department that conducts courses.  They are often excellent and far less time consuming than taking a college class.

Sylvia Wright

Assuming this ID is skilled since he is in the corporate scene I would recommend focusing on learning best techniques for getting upper echelons on board, features needed to meet legal requirements, ROI and follow that with learning about the most capable tools to meet organizational goals.  I would also strongly encourage conferences like DevLearn, Learning Solutions for building a network that will create an ongoing learning culture for professional development.

Meg Bertapelle

Hi Crisa,

I would highly recommend the Project Management for Learning Professionals class run by Russel Martin & Associates. I found it REALLY helpful, and targeting well to the training environment, while still built on general PM methods. Here's a link to their upcoming courses through ATD if you're a member (or not, it just costs more): [Note that 1 of the offerings is online]

Also, if you (or your team) are interested in user interface/user experience design, check out Joe Natoli and his "Give Good UX" program, or courses on Udemy.

best of luck & have fun! 

Ryan Parish

I'm going to second Joe Natoli's "Give Good UX" program, or anything related to User Experience Design, as a matter of fact.

Either that, or go to a D.School workshop at Stanford on Design Thinking. 

I have to work with a really lean budget in my company, and one way I've found to get around that is to focus more on courses that build the capacity to learn, innovate, and iterate, and focus less on hard-skill training. I would steer clear of learning software packages, or skills that can be developed for free with Google, YouTube, and communities like this one. If you do want to pay to have access to specific content areas, Udemy and Lynda are awesome (but not where I'd spend my first $). Good luck and tell us what you decide to do! I'll be curious to hear!

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