Professional development can make a big difference in your career. And I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to come at a big cost. Training developers and instructional designers are usually entrenched and consumed with the development of ourselves and others.
We’re always concerned with how to build learners’ knowledge, skills, management practices, emotional intelligence, or anything else deemed important by the powers that be. It’s an essential part of our drive and purpose in this field!
When I started growing my knowledge in training and professional development, I wanted to get as much knowledge as possible as quickly as possible. And I worried that it would come with a big price tag to my company or at my own expense.
Low Cost Professional Development Opportunities
So how do you find the best low cost professional development out there? I’ve compiled a list of 6 of my favorites ways that have a little price tag and big value that you can do from anywhere.
A lot of great professionals out there have amazing resources that they share through a personal blog. Just like the one you’re reading! We live in a collaborative world where information is shared more often than kept quiet.
Personally, I want everybody to be successful in their goal of creating, designing, delivering, evaluating, or whatever thing you want to do with training and professional development.
I want to share my successes (and failures!) to help people, and I wouldn’t be where I am without seeing it was possible by so many other great professionals out there.
I’m definitely biased, but I’ve poured years of experience and TONS of love into The Instructional Design Company blog messages and resources. All the things I offer are real experiences I used or shared with my team to be successful, so I am confident you will be successful with them, too!
Here’s a list of some other great FREE training and professional development blogs I love (no sponsorships, just my personal favorites):
- The Instructional Design Company – Great resources, courses, freebies, and sensational blog posts that will bring a tear to your eye and love to your heart.
- Learning in the Modern Workplace – A blog by Jane Hart on modernizing workplace learning.
- Training Day from Training Magazine – Blog posts provided by Training Magazine. Lots of other great resources here!
- Training Industry – This one has tons of great articles and contributors in many different design topics.
- HRZone – This one is geared more toward the HR arena, but still tons of great posts that could be modified for any field.
- ATD – Blog posts provided by the Association for Talent Development. We’ll talk about this site a lot, so definitely bookmark this one!
Some other great blogs that I love aren’t necessarily devoted to training, but were very influential and helpful for me, contributing to professional development.
While I was still in the corporate world, I kept a few consulting projects going on the side and toyed with the idea of making it my main gig. Once I got serious about it, I wanted to see if anybody else out there could offer some insight and I found Ryan Robinson.
When I did decide to step out there, I wanted to know how to bring in followers and market myself, which is where I found Jenna Kutcher. She’s inspiring, real, honest, and powerful as an entrepreneur. She’s got great weekly messages that make me puff up my chest with confidence to face any challenge.
Podcasts are a great way to start my day while I get ready, run errands, walk on the beach, wait in traffic, or end my day in bed. I also get very little time these days to sit down and read, so podcasts are a great way to keep me focused.
They keep me connected to the world of training and instructional design without having to travel to hear great speakers. As long as I have my device, I can tune in to today’s hottest topics and ideas.
Here’s some great ones (again FREE, and no sponsorships, just my faves):
You can subscribe in the Music Store on your device or click the links above to listen online in your web browser.
I’ve come across a LOT of great books on training in my career. My favorite for delivering great training is a book called Training From the Back of the Room by Sharon Bowman. It’s a little pricey at $42 on Amazon in paperback, but soooo worth it.
It’s extremely insightful about professional development and building an experience in an environment where the learners do the work. There’s a ton of strategies where learners build their knowledge and skills and the trainer doesn’t become a talking head at the front of the room while everyone takes a nap.
If you’re not an in-person training facilitator, this book can still work for you! Many of the concepts can be used in building digital or e-learning courses as well.
Training designers not only need to deliver great training, but also create an optimally motivating environment for the learner. Susan Fowler’s book called Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging is very reasonable at $13 on Amazon in paperback.
It’s a quick read with a ton of great stories and research. I listened to the audio version and I just kept nodding my head through the whole thing. Great book!
You really don’t have to shell out a bunch of money or travel great distances to build your skills or knowledge. Here’s some amazing resources that provide online courses and materials with little or no cost:
- LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) – Over 13,000 courses available! Subscriptions as low as $19.99 a month if billed annually. You can always try it for free for a month.
- SkillShare – Over 25,000 courses with subscriptions starting at about $12 a month. Right now you can try it out for $0.99 for 2 months.
- YouTube – Anytime I need to learn how to build a new skill, I always check YouTube first. There’s usually someone who’s sharing their knowledge for free!
Membership in a professional organization is a great way to not only get more resources but also to get plugged into a community. They can connect you with other professionals who have great insight and experience to share.
The Association of Talent Development (ATD) is a well established and long-standing association for those involved in development. As a member of ATD, you get access to webinars, books, research, and much more depending on the type of membership you buy. A membership is a great way to maximize your investment in yourself.
Membership includes an attendance ticket to the ATD International Conference and Expo, which is a GREAT conference to attend. More about that in the Events section below.
And, don’t forget to join your local chapter. There are so many great opportunities to learn from the members of your local chapter and the price is usually minimal.
Another great professional organization is Training Magazine. Also a great place for webinars, books, research, events, and more.
Here are the membership details for Training Mag:
- Basic Membership: FREE
- Standard Membership: $95 per year
- Advanced Membership: $495 per year
- Premium Membership: $1,495 per year
The Basic membership still gets you access to a ton of great resources, while some things are locked based on your membership level. The Premium includes an attendance ticket to the TechLearn Conference AND the Training Conference and Expo.
When you participate in and attend events geared toward your passion, it can be really exciting! So many like-minded people in one place intent on networking and sharing great information. Gets my blood pumping just thinking about it.
Attending events definitely has a bigger price tag as it might have a lot of travel expenses, but the experience is well worth the money.
If you want to find a conference near you, a great place to look is Desire 2 Learn. All scheduled conferences are there. Search until you find just the right one and click the provided link to register.
Finding a conference within driving distance can cut down on travel costs. You can also find other people to attend with you to split the cost of a hotel or Airbnb.
This year, I attended the Expo for DevLearn in Orlando for free. You might be thinking that there isn’t much to learn at an Expo, but that isn’t true. They offered many learning opportunities with Learning Stages throughout the Expo. I actually created a schedule of learning in between checking out the many vendors.
As you read this post, I am attending ATD’s International Conference and Expo. I planned everything out before I got here to learn as much as possible. I try to make the most out of every conference. Check out how here.
Over the years, I have been to many conferences where I soaked up so much knowledge. At one point in my career, I was responsible for the educational offerings for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events Expo Expo. I know the work involved in creating amazing educational opportunities that bring value to conference attendees.
If you’re on the fence, I’d encourage you to take that leap. Seeing the newest and most innovative tech and meeting so many new people almost always far exceeds my expectations. And, hey, sometimes you win stuff at these events, too!
The development of ourselves and our teams is critically important to our field. But, professional development doesn’t have to come at a high cost. You can tap into the latest and greatest without breaking the bank or feeling out of the loop.
My Facebook Group is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design, so jump on in and join the conversation.
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield