Best of 2021 Freebies for Instructional Designers & LXDs

woman holding a gift in a gold box and tied with a gold bow
I’m offering some holiday gifts to my fellow IDs and LXDs in the form of a list of the best freebies from 2021.

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As the holidays are upon us and 2021 comes to a close, I’m offering some gifts—lists of freebies for instructional designers and learning experience designers. 

These are the best freebies of 2021 that come to mind at the moment. I’m sure I’m missing some! Leave a comment if you think of other great freebies from 2021. And be sure to read to the end for my holiday gift to you!

Karthick Richard's 12 Days of ID Christmas

If you’re not already following Karthick Richard on LinkedIn, be sure to look him up. And specifically, check out the hashtag #12DaysOfIDChristmas for all the fabulous gifts he is sharing this month. So far, he has shared lists of podcasts, YouTube channels, L&D folks to follow, free resources, and more. Seriously great stuff! (And I’m honored that he included me in his list of people to follow.)

For example, on Day 6, he shared this fun escape room game, in which you earn decorations for your tree by busting various learning myths. As a bonus, there are gifts under the tree—resources to learn more about the myths. 

Karthick’s posts have inspired me to use some of my down time over the holiday to play with the genially tool for creating fun interactive content. (Another bonus freebie!)

Your Instructional Designer's 5 Days of Freelance Mini Challenge

Last month, Dr. Nicole Pappaioannou Lugara posted the 5 Days of Freelance Mini Challenge, which you can find on the Your Instructional Designer YouTube Channel. The challenges included:

  1. The Financial Audit
  2. Crafting Your LinkedIn Bio
  3. Draft a Proposal Template
  4. Find Your First Client
  5. Pricing Your Projects

Your Instructional Designer has also been putting together quarterly portfolio challenges in their Facebook group, Freelance Instructional Designers, eLearning Developers, & LXDs. Be sure to check out December’s challenge and enter for a chance to win free enrollment in the From Data to Design course.

The eLearning Designer's Community

Earlier this year, Tim Slade launched a free community for eLearning Designers. It’s now more than 1,000 members strong. Although I haven’t been near as active as I’d like to be, I can see it’s a valuable gift to the L&D community. 

There are boards for jobs and opportunities, as well as advice and feedback. In addition, every Friday is designated as “Feedback Friday.” Users can post links to their portfolios or latest projects (or whatever else) and get input from the community.

Events from The Training, Learning, and Development Community

Speaking of communities, TLDC—although not a free community—offers many free resources and events. This year saw the launch of two new FREE day-long conferences:

  • Accessible & Inclusive Design Conference (AIDC)
  • Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility for Learning (IDEAL)

If you missed these conferences, look for the recordings on the TLDC website and YouTube channel. These are only two of the valuable learning events TLDC hosts all year long.

Devlin Peck's Survey Reports (and Other Resources)

Devlin Peck does a lot to give back to the L&D community, helping new instructional designers build their portfolios and development skills. Some of the many resources he has made freely available are a couple of survey reports published this year.

Earlier this year, he surveyed hiring managers and published that data. The report includes the top skills hiring managers are looking for, tools they expect candidates to be able to use, and how they evaluate applicants.

Likewise, he conducted a survey of instructional designers and published the Instructional Designer Full Report summarizing the data. This report includes the average salary for IDs, tools used, job satisfaction, and more.


Top Tools for Learning 2021

Jane Hart has once again published a list of the top tools for learning, based on the results of an annual survey. This year’s list has expanded to include 300 tools, plus three sublists of the top 150 tools for:


Speaking of tools, I feel like any list of great freebies for instructional designers has to include the 7taps microlearning authoring tool. Technically, the company launched in the fall of 2020, but many of us first learned about it this year. The community edition is free, and there are upgrades available if you need more features. This is another tool I plan to play with over my holiday break.


In addition to the freebies for instructional designers listed in this post, here’s a recap of the ones I shared during 2021:

Now, here’s a reward if you’ve made it this far. 

Share this post and comment below letting me know which of the following L&D books published in 2021 you would like to have. I’ll randomly choose a winner on December 31 to receive the book of their choice:

(As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a small amount if you choose to purchase from the above links. This does not affect the price you pay and helps to support this blog.)

NOTE: The blog will be on pause for the next two weeks and will be back on January 10. Happy holidays!

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