A list of the industry tools, events, and practices that instructional designers rely on!

Imagine you were to gather your colleagues in your office’s break room, share a meal, and discuss what you are most thankful for at work. Maybe your list would include free coffee in the office, interesting projects, and of course, time off to recharge and refresh. Now imagine every seat at the table is filled by an instructional designer, and the list of things everyone is thankful for becomes a little more specific. Sure, coffee certainly fuels the design process, but instructional designers may rejoice in having access to a few other industry-specific tools, events, and practices that make all the difference in their work.

Keep reading to see what instructional designers are most thankful for this year:

Cloud-Based Authoring Tools

Cloud-based tools, like Knowbly™, allow designers to securely access their content anywhere, anytime, and any place they go. Working in the cloud offers designers more opportunities to collaborate with their teammates, as their content is hosted online and not on personal devices. Cloud-based tools are also updated regularly, ensuring designers always have access to the latest features and upgrades, at no extra cost. There’s no going back after designing in the cloud; this functionality is truly revolutionary.

eLearning Templates

Templates offer designers numerous benefits, including a professional look and feel, consistency across multiple courses, and accelerated design time. Authoring tools that provide built-in templates allow designers to begin working immediately, as soon as they launch their design program. When using templates, designers don’t have to spend time manually building (and testing, and de-bugging) interactions, which can shave hours off of projects. Whether your project has a short turnaround time, or you are simply in need of inspiration, templates are truly something to be thankful for.

The Opportunity to Play with Gamification

Gamification can be just as much fun for designers as it is for the learners. Writing games challenges designers to innovate, to present the content in interesting ways, and to create visually appealing graphics. These efforts pay off because by adding game-like elements to online courses, learners’ natural curiosity and sense of play lead them to be more engaged which can even lead to higher retention of the content. Gamification is more than just a buzzword, and has become a widely used and highly effective strategy for instructional designers.

High-Quality Stock Images and Media

Sometimes the way a course looks is just as important as what it says. High-quality images and media can be used to engage learners as well as teach important concepts in a way that appeals to visual learners. Even when the wording and structure of a course have already been written, sometimes searching endlessly online for just the right images can feel like an endless task. Sites like All the Free Stock allow designers to quickly find free photos, videos, fonts, icons, sound effects, and more, many of which are listed under Creative Commons which means they can even be used in commercial projects. Thankfully, the search for high-quality media is much less painful when you know where to look.

Free (and Freemium) Project Management Tools

Whether or not it’s written in the job description, project management is a necessary skill for instructional designers to develop. Juggling multiple projects and pleasing numerous stakeholders are daily responsibilities, alongside communicating with colleagues and sharing documents and resources. Having all communication, assets, and checklists housed in one system truly streamlines workflows. Tools such as Slack that are cloud-based, available for use on the web as well as on desktop and mobile applications, and offer both free accounts and paid accounts (for additional features) allow designers to spend more time actually designing, and less time on tedious administrative tasks.

Industry Conferences and Events

It’s no secret that instructional designers are lifelong learners. Between discovering industry innovations, following inspiring thought leaders, keeping up with rapidly changing technology, and our sheer curiosity about the world around us, instructional designers love to learn and to spend time with other like-minded professionals. In 2019, Knowbly™ designers attended and participated in the ATD International Conference, Online Teaching Conference, and InstructureCon, among other events. If your 2020 development plan includes attending a major industry event, look for Albert! He tends to hang out with some pretty cool people in some pretty cool places.

Free Online Events and Programs

You don’t always need to travel to an industry event to learn and share best practices with other designers. Sometimes a free webinar is exactly what you need, by bringing the content right to you, wherever you’re at! Webinar recordings are also a valuable resource for anyone who wasn’t able to catch the live presentation, or who may want to enjoy the presentation a second time. Our events calendar shows every opportunity where you can interact with us, whether in person or virtually, on topics ranging from eLearning creation techniques, to industry innovations, to project management, and more.

We’re thankful for our amazing customers who inspire us every day! If you’re interested in seeing how we can work together to create better learning opportunities, let’s talk!