A Note From Shawntay – if you’ve been following my blog you already know I love connecting with aspiring instructional designers and sharing tools for instructional design.


In my last guest blogger series, I highlighted career changers. These highly motivated professionals successfully transitioned from teaching to instructional design. In their posts, they shared their tips for career changers and other resources that helped in their instructional design transition.


This time around, I’ve invited graduates of the Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator System and Certificate Program to share their experiences. I have truly enjoyed working with these Accelerators and am so proud of how far they’ve come!


Darlene’s Tools for Instructional Design


My Accelerator Journey Darlene's Tools for Instructional Design - thuimbnail


Instructional Design Chose Me


I didn’t choose instructional design, it chose me. Let me explain…


My background is in insurance. (I know. Exciting stuff!) I love helping people grow so my manager put me in charge of training new agents. I was always creating cheat sheets to make it easier for them to learn the products and processes. My creative skills eventually earned me an Instructional Design role on the design team. I was in heaven!


But unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out the way we planned. As part of a restructure, my role was eliminated. I decided to take it as an opportunity to start my own instructional design business. After all how hard could it be?


Along Came Shawntay


Well, it didn’t take long until I started to doubt that I could pull it all together on my own. Sure I had worked with adult learning models as an ID. But I felt like I was lacking the theory BEHIND those models. For me, this was the missing piece of the puzzle. It made me doubt that I could be successful on my own. So I started looking at ID courses but I had no idea what to take. They all seemed so theory-heavy with very little application. Then one day I received an invite from Shawntay to attend her Master Class on Getting Started in Instructional Design and eLearning Without Getting Another Degree. She introduced her Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator System and Certificate Program. It was perfect timing. It was exactly what I needed so I signed up immediately.


storyline 360 training


The Tech Accelerator Program exceeded my expectations! To me, it was more than just watching some modules. Shawntay and her team are amazing! They go above and beyond to help people feel confident in the ID role. 


I was only looking to gain a better understanding of how to apply the adult learning models. But I gained sooo much more than that. I made lasting relationships with others in the class and learned about some cool tools for instructional design along the way. 


Free Tools for Instructional Design! Yes! FREE!


Yes! I know it’s hard to believe but you heard right. There are a ton of free tools for instructional design out there. You honestly don’t need to break the bank. AND not only are they free but many of them are super easy to use as well. 


Grab a coffee and join me as I show you some of my favorites. (Seriously go get a drink as you’ll find that it’s quite a long list. I have too many favorites to share just a few.)


Transcribing Audio Using Microsoft Word

Did you know that you can transcribe audio using the online Microsoft Word 365 version? Neither did I! It converts audio (recorded or uploaded from a file) directly to OneDrive as text. It even time stamps it for you. And if there are multiple speakers, it separates the text based on the speaker. I was blown away by how easy it was to use. Click here for the step-by-step instructions.




Grammarly is an online writing assistant that helps make your writing clear and error-free. It automatically detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style mistakes. It’s available as a browser extension for Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. It also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Word and Outlook. 



Canva allows you to create amazing graphics without any prior experience in graphic design. It’s an online design and publishing tool where you can design anything and publish it anywhere. Using a drag-and-drop format, it provides you with access to thousands of photos, graphics, and fonts. You can create a variety of content types, from social media images to presentations, infographics to marketing materials, and much more. 



Canva is super user-friendly to use. And best of all, it’s free! (Shocking I know!) The pro version will provide you with even more photos, graphics, and fonts but it isn’t necessary. The free version includes so much stuff that you can easily create stuff without having to pay for it.  



If you are looking for stock photos, check out Unsplash. It has hundreds of free stock photos. And if that’s not exciting enough for you. You can use the images and edit them for free, WITHOUT having to give any credit to the photographer or website. (This is huge as it can be cumbersome to have to attribute every photo you use.)


Google Fonts

Google Fonts has an extensive library of licensed fonts for free. They can be used for personal and commercial use without having to credit them. (If you haven’t already guessed, I’m all about not having to attribute stuff! This saves a ton of time!) 



Adobe Color

We all know that coordinating colors play an important role in instructional design. Adobe Color can be used to create your own color palettes. It comes with a bunch of cool features. I love the Accessibility Tools feature. It detects color conflicts that make it difficult for color-blind people to see. It also checks the contrast ratio of your background and text colors. 



(I know I’m geeking out but how cool is that?! I can’t say enough good things about this tool. It’s definitely worth checking out!)



Audacity is an easy-to-use software to record and edit audio. You can record live audio, cut, copy, or mix sounds together, change the speed or pitch of a recording, and much more. It’s very user-friendly and runs smoothly on both PC and Mac.


Title Case Converter 

Have you ever been unsure of what words need to be capitalized within a title? It can sometimes be tricky because capitalization rules can be a bit confusing. In the example below, “up” is capitalized because it’s a part of a phrasal verb. (Huh?) This is why the Title Case Converter ranks as one of my favorite tools for instructional design.



This tool ensures that the correct letters are capitalized in a title. To use just type the title in lowercase and hit convert. It converts the title into the proper title case. It highlights the changes for you. AND provides you with the reason why each word was capitalized or left as lowercase. 



Trello is a free project management tool. It allows you to track all aspects of a project in a quick, visual way. Trello is an awesome tool to help you keep your project on track. Boards, lists, and cards help you organize your project. It also seamlessly syncs between devices, so you can use it wherever you go. (Hmmm. Maybe that’s not always such a good thing.)


Google Sites

Did you know that you can create and publish a website using Google Sites? No programming skills are needed. And yes. It is completely free!! When you publish it, you can choose a name for your site. It is not necessary to purchase a domain. 

(If interested, click here to check out the portfolio I created using Google Sites.)



Alternative To

Are you on a limited budget? Or maybe you’re looking to replace a favorite app that was discontinued. If so, you NEED to check out AlternativeTo. This free service will provide you with a list of similar alternatives to a program or app.


You simply just type in a program name and hit find. Use the filters to find what you want. Each alternative also includes reviews, comments, and recommendations from other users. (This tool definitely needs to be bookmarked!)


Trainologist Blog

If you haven’t already, check out Shawntay’s Trainologist Blog. You’ll be sure to find even more tips on tools for instructional design


Plus you won’t want to miss her new series “Instructional Design Journeys: Career-Changers Who Are Crushing it!” Instructional designers share some of their favorite tips and resources that helped them transform into instructional design.

My Accelerator Journey Darlene's Tools for Instructional Design - Good luck

Wrapping It Up

There you have it. I hope that you found my favorite tools for instructional design useful.


I encourage you to always keep learning and share what you’ve learned in Shawntay’s Hangout Facebook Group. (Couldn’t resist, I had to sneak in one more of my favorite tools.) This is a great place to hang out and learn more about instructional design. 


Good luck in your instructional design journey.


Darlene Dalgleish


FTC Disclosure: Hey, there!  If you happen upon a link to a product or tool, you should assume that it is an affiliate link. If you click on it and like it and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission. We only promote tools and products that we believe are helpful and good.

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

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.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

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.

Gayle Bower


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.

Laurie Henderson


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!

Wendy McMillian


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!

Gabby Grimaldo


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!

Shanna Howe


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).

Aviva Berkowitz


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.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

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!

Shawnice Edge


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!

Brian Hightower


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!

Sarah Smith


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.

Lee R


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!

Sheryl Rhoades
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.

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.

Amanda Buckley
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.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


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.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“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.”

Ashley Christian
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.”

Jonathan Burt
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!”

Mellora Moore
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.

Patrick Hodges
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!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

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.

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!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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