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 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
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 Certificate Program. It was perfect timing. It was exactly what I needed so I signed up immediately.
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 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!)
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 above, “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.)
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.)
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!)
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.
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.