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.
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Why do you need a portfolio?
Christopher Pappas provides another 7 reasons you need a portfolio, if you need more motivation.
What to include
My post on 30+ ideas for portfolio samples can give you some inspiration if you need to create new artifacts.
Kristin Anthony’s “Go Design Something” site automatically generates ideas for portfolio samples.
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.
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. It’s also possible to earn a free Captivate license by participating in their community.
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 or upgrade to a paid plan that allows plugins. I prefer themes with a grid layout work for elearning portfolios since they allow you to add descriptions.
Check out Dianne Hope’s article on how to build a portfolio in WordPress.
In her article, Dianne explains how to use a free WordPress plugin to upload elearning samples. That plugin works regardless of what tool you use to create your samples (Storyline, Captivate, iSpring, etc.).
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
Some 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 (at least not on the free plan). 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.
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
- I co-teach a course for UC-Irvine: Creating Your Online E-learning Portfolio.
- Ashley Chiasson has a free course on building elearning portfolios.
- Robin Sargent offers a course called Build Your IDOL (instructional design and online learning) Portfolio.
Do you have a favorite tool for creating portfolios or a resource I’ve missed? Let me know.
Originally published 3/16/2011. Republished 7/2/2019. Last updated 7/2/2021.
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