30+ Ideas for eLearning Portfolio Samples

If you need to create samples, use this list to jump start your brainstorming. Target your desired audience. If you want a job creating soft skills training, create customer service samples. If you love software training, create that kind of samples.

Whether you’re working independently or looking for a full-time job, you need a portfolio. What if you can’t use any samples of your existing work due to confidentiality or security requirements?

Revise Existing Work

In some cases, it’s enough to remove logos and a few identifying details. In other cases, you can redo an existing activity with brand new content. For example, the Instructional Designer or eLearning Developer demo in my portfolio is based on an activity I originally created for a health care client. The mechanics of the interaction are the same, but the graphics and content are brand new.

Use Short Samples

For many people, the best solution is creating new content from scratch. For portfolio samples, you don’t generally need to create a full-blown, 60 minute course. Five minutes or less is usually enough. Most prospective employers or clients won’t watch longer than a few minutes anyway.

Focus on Your Intended Audience

Target your desired audience. If you want a job creating soft skills training, create customer service samples. If you love software training, create that kind of samples. My portfolio only includes scenario-based learning because those are the kinds of projects I want.

I sometimes see overly simply topics like “make a sandwich” for elearning samples. To me, those feel too fake. They’re OK if you’re exclusively a developer and don’t want to do any instructional design work. Those kinds of fake topics can show off your graphic design and technical skills just fine. But if you’re looking for work as an instructional designer, those kinds of samples often show a mismatch in intended audience. “How to make a sandwich” is OK if your intended audience is children or restaurant staff. However, it’s condescending if your intended audience is working adults.

Screenshot of portfolio

Ideas for Samples

If you need to create samples, use the list below to jump start your brainstorming. None of these require much specialized knowledge; you should be able to write the content yourself with a little online research.

Soft Skills & Business Training

  1. Answering the phone, phone greetings
  2. Responding to customer objections
  3. Responding to angry customers
  4. Giving an elevator pitch
  5. Asking customers questions to understand their needs
  6. Interviewing for a job (you could break this down further–appropriate clothes, asking questions of the interviewer, research before the interview, answering common questions, etc.)
  7. Resume writing
  8. Time management
  9. Prioritizing tasks
  10. Providing constructive feedback to colleagues
  11. Evaluating online sources for credibility
  12. Providing workplace accommodations for disabilities
  13. Rules for accepting gifts from customers/clients
  14. Onboarding or orientation (make up a fake company and introduce new employees to the leadership team and company mission)
  15. Tips for managing scope creep in projects
  16. Writing SMART goals

Software Training

  1. Create pivot tables in Microsoft Excel
  2. Create a budget spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets)
  3. Merge comments from multiple reviewers in Word
  4. Customize the ribbon in any Microsoft Office program
  5. Use styles in Word for a consistent look
  6. Create handouts in PowerPoint
  7. Create folders to organize Outlook
  8. Use filters to be more efficient with email
  9. Edit out noise in Audacity
  10. Use brushes or filters in Photoshop
  11. Assign tasks to team members in a project management tool (Microsoft Project, Basecamp, etc.)
  12. Upload a course in an LMS (whichever system you know best)
  13. Saving links with Diigo, Evernote, or another tool
  14. Create consistent file naming conventions
  15. Any cool trick you know in Captivate, Storyline, or the eLearning development tool of your choice (this also shows your expertise with the tool)

Other Sources of Ideas

  1. Kristin Anthony has a free tool for generating portfolio sample ideas.
  2. The eLearning Heroes challenges are one way many people have successfully built portfolio samples.
  3. Check out the course lists on Udemy, Open Sesame, Lynda, or similar sites. All of these can be inspiration for your own samples.
  4. You! What ideas do you have for portfolio samples? Leave a comment and share your thoughts so everyone can benefit.

More Resources

Originally published 7/14/16. Last updated 2/8/21.

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27 thoughts on “30+ Ideas for eLearning Portfolio Samples

  1. Thank you for sharing your expertise so generously. Really impressed with how quickly you have me thinking about next steps. Sharing this super-organized gold-mine of a site near and far. Many blessings and THANKS

  2. Christy, thank for this article. I am new to Instructional Design, and I must admit I’ve binge read your articles – so very useful. Thank you for sharing so much, you have no idea how helpful this is for inexperienced IDs!

  3. Thank you very much for these great, practical ideas. Like others who have commented, I need to create/revamp some portfolio examples. This article is very timely. good

  4. I swear you can read my mind! This is something I’m struggling to figure out. Thanks for the resource!

  5. I’m new to eLearning (< 2 years experience and all at a company where I have limited resources and very strict rules on software I am allowed to use). I am not able to email project links or upload them to external file sharing sites because it would be considered a security violation at my current employer. I also do not have and cannot afford to purchase the software for personal use but wanted to create a simple portfolio to showcase my best work should I need it for future job searching. I'm considering downloading a free trial to the software I use (Storyline 3, Replay). I guess my question is If I can create a few samples using a free trial – how do I publish or export the final product so any potential hiring manager could view it? I know that is a dumb question, but the only experience I have now with publishing a file is for upload to our LMS.

    1. The free trial does sound like the best option for you. Right now, do you publish to SCORM and upload a zip file to your LMS? You’ll need to publish it for Web instead of for an LMS.
      In Storyline 3, select Publish > Web. I recommend changing the format to HTML5 for anything you publish now, given the impending demise of Flash.
      Ideally, you would have your own (paid) website as your portfolio so you could just upload files via FTP. If you’re looking for free options, Tom Kuhlmann just posted an option for free file hosting with step-by-step directions. https://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/free-share-courses-online/

  6. Thank you very much for these great, practical ideas. Like others who have commented, I need to create/revamp some portfolio examples. This article is very timely.

  7. Thank you very much for sharing your ideas with us! This article is really helpful and timely. I just created my own professional website and I need to add some e-learning samples. I love your suggestions – they are easy to apply!

  8. Again this is very timely for me and thank you for enforcing ideas I’ve got for creating more ‘meaty’ samples i.e. upto 5 mins, most of my current samples are entries from Articulate ELH challenges. Christy to the rescue! Thanks

    1. Many of my current samples are just screenshots from older work. I need to do a few updates myself. I thought some brainstorming on topics would be helpful for others too.

  9. Thank you for this timely article. I’m currently working as a Senior Instructional Designer and I need to revamp my portfolio. Although I enjoy my current position, I have plans to become a full-time freelancer in early 2017. I want to bid on (and win) a few small projects prior to doing so. Your article will help me as revamp my online portfolio. Thanks!

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