I get a lot of questions about the products and resources I use the most, so I thought it might be easiest to develop a resource site that I can add and subtract from as it evolves. Full disclosure: there are several affiliate links throughout, but these are all products and/or resources that I’ve used, trust, and love. You’ll see this page featured in my navigation, so if you leave the site and come back, it will be very easy to find 🙂
Articulate Storyline and Studio – I am a huge lover and supporter of both suites of software; however, I have to admit that I prefer to develop within Articulate Storyline, often using Studio-developed assets to supplement aspects of my Storyline courses. The Articulate E-Learning Heroes community is one of the most active community I’ve been apart of, and I really appreciate how supportive everyone seems to be. Both suites of software are worth the investment, and if you or your organization are on the fence about purchasing licenses, I encourage you to try out the 30 day free trials.
Adobe Captivate – I won’t be the first to admit that this is not my favourite tool to develop in; I tend to find Adobe’s interfaces more difficult to navigate, but I will say that once you’ve mastered one of their program interfaces, you likely won’t have a hard time with others. I like using Captivate to develop software simulations and the most often used feature (which is silly given the robust-ness of the program) for me is the text to speech audio recording…I said it was a silly feature to use the most, didn’t I? Working with a military audience, I gained loads of experience using Adobe Captivate, and once you get the swing of it, it really can do prove to be a great authoring investment, especially given the reasonable licensing cost.
Parallels – I haven’t been using Parallels long, but I’ve been bowing down to it since DAY ONE! Prior to Parallels, I was using Mac Boot Camp, booting to my Windows OS separately to work on all of my Windows-specific projects. Doing things this way without an optimization software like the Mitrefinch solution created a bumpy workflow process – I would have to either dual boot multiple times a day (incredibly frustrating when a client called and wanted to do an unexpected screen share and you had a ton of Mac windows open with work in progress) or I would have to hoard all of my OS-specific tasks to group together, which became quite unwieldy. Parallels honestly changed my life. Now, I can operate ‘in coherence’, and selecting a Windows-specific item will automatically open in Windows. I can have both OS’ open at the same time, and I’ve experienced no lag.
PancakeApp – PancakeApp is my project management software of choice; it has an aesthetically pleasing interface and is surprisingly easy to use. I will admit that it was head-bashing-on-my-keyboard frustrating to setup, but the support team is very quick to respond to any concerns, and the fifth install was the charm for me. This program allows me to easily manage my projects, clients, hours, and invoices – taking the fuss out of small business management and administrative poo poo out of my daily life.
Articulate TempShare – Articulate TempShare takes the fuss out of getting your Articulate projects online; just upload and pass along the link – the only catch is that the links will expire, so it’s definitely not a long-term solution (but still good for most uses).
Dropbox – Dropbox is fantastic! I use dropbox to share project files between myself and clients, to deliver projects, and even as a tertiary backup for my hard drive. The subscriptions (for the amount of space you get) are silly cheap, and you likely won’t fill it all up for a long while.
Google Drive – Google Drive is RIDICULOUSLY cheap for space, and is widely used. I do find my clients are gravitating more toward dropbox nowadays, but it’s still a fantastic resource and storage solution.
Lynda.com (Get 7 days of free, unlimited access to lynda.com) – Lynda.com is a fantastic resource for learning, and is SUPER affordable (given the enormous course selection); for instructional designers or developers, I would specifically recommend:
- Up and Running with Articulate Storyline (by David Rivers)
- Articulate Storyline Advanced Techniques (by Daniel Brigham)
- Camtasia Studio 8 Essential Techniques (by Chris Mattia)
- Screencast Fundamentals (by David Rivers)
- Instructional Design Essentials: Storyboarding (by Daniel Brigham)
- Up and Running with Captivate 7 (by David Rivers)
- Captivate Advanced Techniques (by Anastasia McCune)
Discover Udemy’s featured courses!” target=”_blank”>Udemy.com – I was a user of Udemy before I began working with the interface. As a developer, Udemy is an extremely easy user interface and has a large-enough following that you can easily make passive (or active, depending on your goals) income publishing courses through the site. As a user, I find the interface very manageable – the information is presented in bite-sized chunks, and Udemy’s quality regulations ensures that all users are getting the best possible experience. Courses range in price, but there are many fantastic options; for instructional designers or developers, I would recommend:
- Adobe Captivate 6 and 7 Training for Beginners (by VHOT Training Inc.)
- Create Interactive Courses with Articulate Storyline (by Jeff Batt)
- Learn to Create eLearning Courses using Articulate Storyline (by Prashant Kumar Gupta)
- The ABCs of Instructional Design (by Debra Scott)
- The Ultimate Mind Map Course for Education (by Sean Mitton)
Resources for use in E-Learning
Creative Market – I LOVE using Creative Market – there are tons of modern visuals available for purchase (e.g. illustrations, stock photos, hero images, fonts, etc.), and every week they offer a handful of free downloads (which ends up building into quite the repository if you hang around for awhile). But I think my favorite aspect of this site is that designers and developers are getting paid for what they’re producing…which sure, maybe you can get it for free somewhere, but everyone deserves a payday, how else are we to become top Chicago interior designers!
istockphoto.com – I remember searching Getty Images at the beginning of my web-design hobby as a teenager; now on the cusp of thirty, I can appreciate this membership approach to royalty-free images. Memberships range from 250-750 downloads per month, and are reasonably priced, especially if being used often for larger organizations.
E-Learning Heroes Download Section – The download section has been developed largely from submissions by E-Learning Heroes community participants. There are LOADS of resources for all Articulate products, in addition to course assets and administrative templates (e.g. storyboard templates). This is an invaluable resource and is constantly growing!
E-Learning Heroes Community – As previously mentioned, the Articulate E-Learning Heroes community is one of the most active communities I have been fortunate enough to be a part of, and you can find almost ANYTHING (related to instructional design and/or Articulate products) on this forum. And if you can’t, someone can definitely answer your questions!
ColourLovers – This isn’t necessarily an e-learning resource; anyone needing to select colours can really benefit from this site. I specifically like looking at palettes, because sometimes I’m not creative when coming up with colour palettes and there are a lot of folks out there who are – why exhaust yourself?! I’ve used these colour palettes in e-learning courses, on websites, and when painting the interior of my home.
Design for how People Learn – Julie Dirksen
Learning Articulate Storyline – Stephanie Harnett
E-Learning Uncovered: Articulate Storyline – Diane Elkins and Desiree Pinder
Designer Scripts – Email Templates for Sticky Client Situations – My good friend Erin created this swipe file of email scripts for dealing with various sticky client situations; while you may not be a designer (perhaps you’re a business coach or a software developer), but if you run any sort of freelance operation or small business, these email templates are adaptable for almost any industry. And at $17 dollars, it is a steal. Just think of all of the cringe-worthy client situations you’ve been in…and how frustrated you were because you just couldn’t think of a way to deal with the situation. One of my favourite situations outlined has to do with a client requesting more revisions than originally agreed upon (come on, instructional designers, I know you feel me on the revision apocalypse). In any event, this is an ESSENTIAL investment in your business and will save you a ton of headache in the end!
Stress Less & Impress (by Leah Kalamakis) – Sometimes the hardest part of doing freelance work and/or running a small business is ironing out your processes. In Stress Less & Impress, Leah takes you through the steps (and provides helpful worksheets and a Facebook community) of streamlining your process, and while it may not be industry-specific, streamlining your basic processes will allow you to spend less time with administrative schtuff, and more time focusing on your clients and providing solutions to their problems.
The Freelance to Freedom Project – This is a website developed by Leah Kalamakis, wherein she provides helpful freelance information – from the trenches. She has an incredibly Facebook community that I participate in weekly, and of which I’ve been able to sub-contract out overflow work, when necessary. Leah is incredibly honest and supportive, and her blog posts address common freelance questions or concerns.
Be Free, Lance – Much like Leah’s site, Breanna provides a witty blog category, periodically updated with helpful freelance information. Her posts are informative and engaging, and I’m looking forward to her upcoming course (of the same name).
How to Undo the Damage of Sitting – or what many may refer to as Desk-er-cize. Seriously – these exercises can help. A LOT. Stop complaining about your back pain now and do these exercises!