Instructional Design Portfolio Resources

A collection of resources and tools for creating your instructional design or elearning portfolio

Everyone working in instructional design, learning experience design, or elearning should have a portfolio. This is especially true for people who are job seeking or working independently.

Instructional Design Portfolio Resources

Why do you need a portfolio?

If you’re wondering why you need a portfolio, read Tom Kuhlmann’s explanation. I have heard all the excuses why you can’t build one.

Christopher Pappas provides another 7 reasons you need a portfolio, if you need more motivate.

What to include

My post on 30+ ideas for portfolio samples can give you some inspiration if you need to create new artifacts.

This post on building an instructional design portfolio includes what to include and additional tips.

These 10 tips for building a portfolio include picking the right projects and pairing each project with a description.

Tools for creating samples

Storyline and Captivate

Prospective employers expect to see a few samples using standard tools. In most places, that means either Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate.

Job seekers often can’t afford to purchase expensive software licenses. If you’re a student, discounts are available for both Articulate 360 (which includes Storyline) and Adobe Captivate.

Both Articulate and Adobe offer 30-day free trials. If you storyboard and plan before you start your trial, you can make several samples during that month.

Open source and additional tools

Although employers are likely to look for Storyline and Captivate, you might use other tools. Camtasia and Lectora are also options.

iSpring Free is basically a PowerPoint presentation plus a quiz, but this might be an option for simple samples.

If you want to use open source tools, check out Adapt and H5P. Neither one has seen widespread adoption, partly because they both require more technical expertise. However, you can create some really cool things with both.

Hosting your portfolio

This blog and my portfolio were both built with WordPress. These are both self-hosted sites now, although my blog was on WordPress.com for many years. You can use a free WordPress.com site as your portfolio as a job seeker, but you’ll have to host your samples somewhere else. I prefer themes with a grid layout work for elearning portfolios since they allow you to add descriptions.

I use DreamHost to host both of my websites. Shared hosting starts at $2.59/month, so it’s quite affordable to get your own site and have full control.

Free and Low Cost Hosting Options

Come people use template sites like use Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. I find those sites generally limiting and unprofessional, plus it can be challenging to post real samples. It can be done, but it’s not what I recommend.

If you’re using a free site, you probably need to host your samples elsewhere. WordPress.com and other free hosts don’t allow you to upload published Storyline or Captivate files. You can use Amazon AWS storage to host and share your files, linking to them from your portfolio.

Mike Taylor lists several free or low-cost options for hosting in this post (although a few, like Dropbox, are no longer options.

I have no personal experience with the free hosting services mentioned in this post, but they might be worth exploring. I suggest reading the terms very carefully and being sure you understand what is and isn’t included.

Portfolio Examples

It helps to see other portfolios as inspiration for your own work. See how others have organized their samples and what they include.

Check out this post with 34 great examples of instructional design and elearning portfolios, collected by Scott Winstead.

The Articulate community also has a collection of portfolios.

Courses on portfolio building

Do you have a favorite tool for creating portfolios or a resource I’ve missed? Let me know.

I use affiliate links when I share books and some additional resources (like the Dreamhost link above). It won’t cost you anything additional, but a small portion of the purchase price comes to me to help pay for hosting my blog.

Originally published 3/16/2011. Last updated 7/5/2019.

15 thoughts on “Instructional Design Portfolio Resources

  1. Some of the new features on Tumblr’s templates are good, but I agree: WordPress is the way to go. I’ve been meaning to design my own portfolio again online.

  2. Hi Christy. I cannot believe that I just found your blog after having a group lunch with you a couple of weeks ago. I am thinking of starting an ID portfolio, did a Google search on those terms, and your site was the first thing that popped up.

    Fantastic website and I look forward to following your blog. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Ryan

    1. Hi Ryan, nice to see you here! I actually have very little overlap between people I know face-to-face and those who I know through my blog, so it’s fun to have someone I’ve met in person here. Glad you found it useful.

  3. Unwanted paradox: tried to visit your portfolio, especially as whole post is about it, and got Error code 502.
    Maybe a memento to rethink it?

  4. Hi Christy,

    I believe this was the post I have been looking for a long time. I am planning to create my ID portfolio and after reading your article I believe WordPress would the best platform for a portfolio.

    What would the cost of creating a portfolio on WordPress? If you could kindly detail a bit.

    Regards
    Priyanka

    1. With a self-hosted WordPress site, the only required cost is hosting, plus maybe registering a domain. If you look for deals, you can get hosting for $30-$40/year, including a free domain registration (although you may have to pay a little to renew the domain in subsequent years). My link for shared hosting with DreamHost gives you a $50 discount, so it ends up being around $30/year.

      If you host your site on WordPress.com, there’s no cost unless you want a custom domain. However, you’ll probably need to pay for Amazon AWS S3 to host files. Amazon offers a free tier for storage, so you can perhaps get the storage free for the first year.

      You may end up spending more than that, but everything else is optional. For example, you might pay for a premium theme rather than using a free one. You also might pay for other add-ons. None of that is required though, especially for getting started.

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