Friday, July 29, 2011

What Tools Are Instructional Designers Using These Days?

July has been a busy month for me.  One of the things I've been doing is interviewing candidates for an open Instructional Designer position on my team.   It is great (and a little scary) to see the wealth of talent and experience that is available.   I've enjoyed the interviews.   It is such a pleasure to be able to talk about instructional design and workplace learning with other people who are passionate about it.   Most people run the other direction when I start talking about these things.

Below is a list of tools created from the resumes I received in response to my job posting.   If you're looking for someone to help you with any of these tools, I've got a lead for you.


  1. Great information Mike. Here is brand new tool hot off the presses and it is available as an i-pad app.

  2. Lynn,

    DesignJot looks like a great tool. I'm sure it will start popping up on lists like these in the near future.

    Thanks for leaving your comment.


  3. I am thinking of becoming an instructional designer; my background is in teaching. After reading your post, I wondered if instructional designers specialize in a core set of software programs. And if they do specialize, does it limit their ability to find employment? That is, do employers ask for knowledge of specific software programs, or are they flexible enough to let you learn on the job?

    Thanks for the post,

    1. Hi Alice,

      In my opinion, the big three in terms of software tools for developing e-learning would be Lectora Inspire, Articulate Studio 9, and Adobe Captivate. Articulate has also recently released a new software development tool called Storyline which looks to hold great promise. Proficiency in any of these tools would certainly get my attention on a resume.

      Here are the appropriate links for each:|1026688|%2Bcaptivate%204||S|b|12754941142


    2. Alice, I concur with Mike. I have been an instructional designer and trainer in corporate america for the past few years and in general, many companies will buy the software before they hire the talent. I have interviewed with several companies recently that want a Captivate developer because that's the software they already have the license to. So, at an absolute minimum you want to be skilled with Adobe Captivate.

      However, in my opinion, Articulate Studio and the newest offering from Lectora blow Captivate away in terms of actual e-Learning development. Captivate is cool for its "wow-factor" and built in flash / sprites, etc.

      So, if you want to be well-rounded and capable of meeting the needs of any company, Captivate, Articulate and Lectora are all software you need to know. I also suggest you familiarize yourself with Camtasia Studio and its sister program SnagIt. Finally if you are going to do any voice over/straight audio work, check out Audacity.

      Finally, another arena where it can be very helpful for you to be knowledgeable is Learning Management Systems (LMS). The management of an LMS often falls to the IT department but the more you know, the more valuable you will be to your team, to the company and to the IT department. One of the most popular LMS lately has been Moodle.


    3. One more thing in the LMS arena... I just noticed SharePoint now has SharePointLMS ( which I have never seen implemented as an LMS but given the widespread implementation of SharePoint as an Intranet, integration of the SharePointLMS is intriguing.

    4. Another thing to consider, Alice, is these tools Mike and I discussed are aimed at eLearning primarily. There is still plenty Instructional Design done in the traditional mediums. In fact, I think Mike posted something about companies running from e-Learning recently.

      With your teaching background, you are (hopefully) familiar with creating daily lesson plans. Those skills can translate to creating learning materials for delivery in Instructor Led Classroom Training (ILCT). You will need to be very good in MS Word, and MS PowerPoint to start with.

      Regardless of the type of training you eventually begin developing, I strongly encourage you to become a subject matter expert (SME) in Adult Learning Perspectives / Strategies and learn / adopt a specific Development methodology such as ADDIE: Assess, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate.

      Best of luck in your career search.

  4. Hi Mike,

    I am a senior graphic designer with 8 years of experience. I have worked on development of elearning courses and web design and in advertising also. i have worked on storyboards provided by ids and developed content in flash. Because of fast and hard work i got injury with my thumb and hand, now i feel trouble in working 8 hours contentiously with graphics illustration stuff. Will the profile for a instructional designer suit me? Should I look forward to become id ?


  5. Hi Mike - Arent these tools restrictive in design and also expensive. What are your views about building such a tool from scratch?

  6. Is knowledge of HTML5 required of e-learning instructional designers?

  7. Nice concentration on instructional design blogs. Such a great work regarding instructional designers.Thank you for sharing instructional design process