Learning and development careers are booming. As more instructional designers enter the field, they are bound to have a lot of questions, such as:
- How do I break into instructional design?
- Do I need a certificate or Master’s program?
- I’m a teacher; how do I transition into instructional design?
- Who should I follow in L&D?
- What books should I read to learn more?
Fortunately, the world of L&D is full of helpers—people who want to see you succeed. These helpers have given freely of their time and wisdom to create a wealth of resources that can help you grow in your career.
I’ve curated many of these resources for new instructional designers and those looking to transition to ID. Bookmark this post so you can share it the next time someone asks one of the above questions!
Other bloggers have written a plethora of articles with excellent advice for new instructional designers.
- Answers to Instructional Design Career Questions, by Connie Malamed
- Articles by Devlin Peck, notably:
- Christy Tucker’s Series on Instructional Design Careers (35+ posts!)
- Essential Reading for Instructional Design, Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions
- FAQ: How to Be a Freelance Instructional Designer, by Nicole Pappaioannou Lugara
- Free Email course: Breaking into Instructional Design, from Connie Malamed
- How to Become an Instructional Designer, by Cathy Moore
- How to Become an Instructional Designer? By Helen Colman
- Instructional Design Certificate or Masters Degree, by Christy Tucker
- List of Instructional Design Programs from the eLearning Coach, Connie Malamed
Podcasts & Videos
Prefer YouTube? Here’s a list of The 13 Best YouTube Channels on Instructional Design from Eugene Bloom, via iSpring’s eLearning blog.
In addition, here are some videos I found for new instructional designers:
- 11 Instructional Designer Interview Questions and How to Answer Them, by iSpring
- How to Become an Instructional Designer in 2021, by Devlin Peck
- How to Become an Instructional Designer/eLearning Developer (IDOL) Without a Degree, by Dr. Robin Sargent
- How to Create an Instructional Design Portfolio, by Devlin Peck
- Instructional Design Interview Tips, by Devlin Peck
- Instructional Design Mock Interview with Cara North and Aleks Drobik, by Devlin Peck
- Instructional Design: When to Get a Certificate vs a Master’s Degree, by Dr. Ray Pastore
- Is Instructional Design for You? by Vanessa Alzate and Anchored Training
- What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer, by Dr. Luke Hobson
These are free or low-cost communities with many resources and events to further your career:
- E-Learning Heroes (Articulate)
- eLearning Industry
- The eLearning Designer’s Community
- The Learning Guild
- The Training, Learning, and Development Community (TLDC)
Personally, I’ve gotten the most value from my TLDC membership (which only costs $75/year). Even if you’re not a paid member, TLDC offers many free learning events throughout the year. And it’s an amazing community!
- Design for How People Learn, Julie Dirksen
- Freelance Instructional Designers, eLearning Developers, & LXDs
- Instructional Design Institute Community
- Instructional Design Jobs, IDOL courses
- Instructional Designer, eLearning Industry
Here are some of my favorite L&D books that I think all instructional designers should have. It was hard to narrow down the list!
These books provide fundamental information for new IDs in an easy-to-read format.
- Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter), by Julie Dirksen
- The eLearning Designer’s Handbook: A Practical Guide to the eLearning Development Process for New eLearning Designers, by Tim Slade
- Map It: The Hands-On Guide to Strategic Training Design, by Cathy Moore
- What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer, by Dr. Luke Hobson*
And Don't Miss These
These books also have essential information for instructional designers.
- The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age, by Cammy Bean
- Designing Accessible Learning Content: A Practical Guide to Applying Best-Practice Accessibility Standards to L&D Resources, by Susi Miller
- eLearning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning, by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer
- First Principles of Instruction, by David Merrill
- Michael Allen’s Guide to E-Learning: Building Interactive, Fun, and Effective Learning Programs for Any Company, by Michael Allen
- Scenario-based eLearning: Evidence-Based Guidelines for Online Workforce Learning, by Ruth Colvin Clark
- slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, by Nancy Duarte
- Write and Organize for Deeper Learning, by Patti Shank
Recommendations for Your Personal Learning Network
Building a personal learning network (PLN) is one of the easiest FREE things you can do to learn and grow in your career. I encourage you to leverage LinkedIn, at a minimum, to build connections and find people from whom you can learn.
To learn about how to set up your own PLN, read Nicole Pappaioannou Lugara’s post, Plan for a PLN: How to Leverage Personal Learning Networks.
The following L&D professionals consistently post valuable content on LinkedIn to help others with career development:
(I’m sure there are many others; these are just the ones who came to mind.)
Twitter Accounts to Follow
I also find Twitter to be immensely helpful, so here are 50 of my favorite accounts to follow there:
- Association for Talent Development (@atd)
- Bianca Woods (@eGeeking)
- Brian Dusablon (@briandusablon)
- Cammy Bean (@cammybean)
- Cara North (@caranorth11)
- Cath Ellis (@cathellis)
- Cathy Moore (@CatMoore)
- Chief Learning Officer (@CLOmedia)
- Christopher Pappas (@cpappas)
- Christy Tucker (@ChristyATucker)
- Clark Quinn (@Quinnovator)
- Connie Malamed (@elearningcoach)
- Dave Ferguson (@Dave_Ferguson)
- David Anderson (@elearning)
- David Kelly (@LnDDave)
- Devlin Peck (@devpeck)
- Donald Clark (@DonaldClark)
- Alec Couros (@courosa)
- eLearning Industry (@elearningindustry)
- Guild Academy (@TheGuildAcademy)
- Guy Wallace (@guywwallace)
- Jane Bozarth (@janebozarth)
- Jayne Davids (@Jaynedavids)
- Judy Katz (@jdyktz)
- Julie Dirksen (@usablelearning)
- Karl Kapp (@kkapp)
- Kevin Thorn (@LearnNuggets)
- Learn Chat (@lrnchat) – Weekly chat Thursdays at 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT
- Learning Ninjas (@learningninjas)
- Learning Science Weekly (@LearnSciWeekly)
- Margie Meacham (@margiemeacham)
- Mike Taylor (@tmiket)
- Nancy Duarte (@nancyduarte)
- Nicole Papaioannou Lugara (@NicolePapaPhD)
- Patti Shank (@pattishank)
- Ray Jimenez (@RayJimenez)
- Shannon Tipton (@stipton)
- Susi Miller (@elahub1)
- TD Magazine (@TDMag)
- The Learning Guild (@LearningGuild)
- Tim Slade (@sladetim)
- TLDC (@the_tldc)
- Tom McDowall (@tommcdowall3)
- Tracy Carroll (@1tracycarroll)
- Tracy Parish (@Tracy_Parish)
- Training Magazine (@TrainingMagUS)
- Tricia Ransom (@TriciaRansom)
- Vanessa Alzate (@AnchoredTrning)
- Will Thalheimer (@WillWorkLearn)
- Zsolt Olah (@rabbitoreg)
Resources Specifically for Teachers Transitioning to ID
As a former teacher myself, I have a soft spot in my heart for educators who are looking to get into ID, so here’s some information just for teachers.
The first place you’ll want to go is Sara Stevick’s TPLD website: Teaching: A Path to Learning and Development. You’ll find a really helpful community along with webinars, job boards, resume examples, and other resources—all for FREE.
Here are some additional resources just for teachers:
- Adapting Resumes from Teaching to Instructional Design, by Christy Tucker
- How to Transition from Teaching to eLearning & Instructional Design, video by Tim Slade
- Road to L&D: From Teaching to Instructional Design (TLDC conference recordings)
- Teacher to Instructional Design: Interview Questions, by Christy Tucker
- Teacher Transition (videos/podcasts)
- Teachers in Need of a New Career Path: Think Instructional Design, by Melissa Rios La Luz and IDOL Courses
- Teaching: A Path to L&D (YouTube channel)
- Transitioning from Teacher to Instructional Designer, by Dr. Luke Hobson
- Transitioning from Teaching to Instructional Design, by Christy Tucker
Also watch TLDC’s LinkedIn page for announcements about an upcoming event for transitioning teachers. It’s currently being planned for August 2022.
If you found this list useful, I hope you will share it with others who are new to L&D or looking to join the career field.
What great resources did I miss? Please share your favorite resources for new instructional designers in the comments below!