Blog Post

20 Free or Low-Cost Resources for Workplace Learning Professionals

Shannon Howard
May 15, 2023
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The 2023 State of Organizational Education Report found that 12% of workplace learning professionals surveyed agreed, “I feel like I am capable of making a greater impact, but I lack the knowledge and training I need to succeed.”

The data also revealed that learning professionals who sit on the HR team are twice as likely (16%) to agree with this statement as compared to learning professionals who are part of the education team (8%).  

Surprisingly, 10% of executives and directors surveyed believe the same.

Not only does this feeling of being underskilled impact morale, but it also impacts your bottom line. Respondents who feel they lack the knowledge and training they needed to succeed were more likely to agree “we did not meet our business goals” and less likely to agree “we exceeded our business goals,” as compared to the average. Yikes.

While a lot of learning happens on the job, sometimes it’s helpful to walk through structured, specific content that helps you do your job better independently. 

We’ve pulled together recommended resources, separated by topic, to help you advance your knowledge. Our research found that 33% of teams had their budget cut, so most of these recommendations are free or low-cost. 

Education Strategy & Leadership Resources

The success of any education initiative is dependent upon its connection to business goals. Education leaders need to understand how to tie program learning objectives to larger business objectives. These resources will help you accomplish that. 

  1. (Framework) Take a Strategic Approach to Education with The Intellum Methodology - The Intellum Methodology was built on 20+ years of experience and learning science research. It includes eight strategic thrusts that make up a successful education strategy. This blog walks you through part of the methodology.
  2. (Blog) The ARCS Model of Motivation - Created by John Keller, this model is a great way to strategize how to engage adult learners in a busy world.
  3. (Blog) Learning Efficacy Explained: How Effective Is Your Workplace Education Program? - As education leaders, we need to be able to tie learning program results to business impact. This blog explains the difference. 
  4. (Podcast) The Business of Learning - This podcast tackles topics relevant to education leaders—including globalization, learning tech stacks, and leading workplace learning teams. 
  5. (Video) The Learning and Performance Support (LeaPS) ID Model - This instructional design model situates learning strategy within the context of the workplace and community.
  6. (Blog) Content Strategy: How to Educate Customers, Partners, and Employees - The key to great content starts with strategy. This blog walks step-by-step through creating a comprehensive content strategy for educating multiple audiences.
  7. (Workshop) Customer Education Strategy - Created and hosted by Dave Derington, this live and interactive workshop helps you define and document your customer education strategy.
  8. (Course) USF DEI in the Workplace Certificate - It’s critical for leaders to have an understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion and how to be an ally in the workplace. 

Instructional & Learning Experience Design Resources

While some professionals responsible for delivering employee, customer, and partner education are classically trained with instructional design or education degrees, many are not. These recommendations will help you build a solid foundation around learning principles and methodologies.

  1. (Course) Instructional Design Institute - Dr. Luke Hobson offers regular cohorts for those looking to learn instructional design principles and best practices.
  2. (Blog) How to Create an Instructional Design Document - eLearning expert Tim Slade breaks down how to document insights to inform what you’re creating. 
  3. (Course) User Experience Basics - User Experience (UX) plays a key role in how you deliver educational offerings. This course covers the basics of what you need to know and consider to run a successful education initiative. 
  4. (Book) Design for How People Learn - This book is a great primer on engaging audiences and creating effective learning experiences.
  5. (Book) The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age - This book, filled with stories and practical advice, is the perfect resource for those just getting started with instructional design.

Training & Development Resources

Whether your focus is internal or external education, you might find yourself creating or offering in-person or virtual training (ILT or VILT, respectively). These resources will help you plan, structure, and execute great training.

  1. (Blog) How to Create an Action Map - Action maps can be helpful to identify performance issues and how training can fill the gap. This blog walks through each step of creating an action map.
  2. (Podcast) The Accidental Trainer - This podcast, hosted by Alexandria Clapp, covers trends, strategies, and actionable information for talent development professionals.
  3. (Blog) How to Design Software Training - Author and internationally recognized training designer, Cathy Moore, shares how to make formal training engaging and effective.
  4. (Book) Telling Ain’t Training - A popular and highly recommended resource, Telling Ain’t Training busts myths and offers ready-to-use tools to create effective training.
  5. (Professional Organization) Training Industry - Training Industry offers a variety of courses, training, certifications, content, and events for training professionals. 
  6. (Professional Organization) Association for Talent Development -  ATD offers a wealth of resources for trainers and talent development professionals. 
  7. (Book) The Accidental Trainer: A Reference Manual for the Small, Part-Time, or One-Person Training Department - A handy resource, The Accidental Trainer provides readers with the basic tools needed to be successful in a training role.

We hope you find these resources useful. And if you do, please share with others who are looking to grow in their career. A rising tide lifts all ships—the growth of each education professional makes way for the rest of us.

About the Author

Shannon Howard Speaker Headshot
Shannon Howard
Director of Content & Customer Marketing
Shannon Howard is an experienced Customer Marketer who’s had the unique experience of building an LMS, implementing and managing learning management platforms, creating curriculum and education strategy, and marketing customer education. She loves to share Customer Education best practices from this blended perspective.