Diy And New Technologies
ATD Blog

Essential Development Tools—and They’re Free!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I’ve worked in the healthcare sector for many years, and it’s no secret that we don’t have large budgets to work with beyond direct patient care. Thanks to constrained resources, it’s more important than ever for me to find ways to make the most of the tools, assets, and shrinking budget at my disposal when designing learning experiences.

Fortunately, the increasing availability of cloud-based applications and other free tools has made that all a bit easier than ever to create and develop learning experiences that don’t have to cost a bundle. Indeed, for more than six years I’ve been collecting and curating a list of free tools and resources that can be used by instructional designers and developers.

Currently, the list includes more 560 different resources in 35 categories, such as:

  • 3D modeling
  • audio capture and editing
  • authoring tools
  • data visualization
  • file sharing
  • project management
  • storyboarding
  • surveying
  • video capture and editing.

This list keeps growing, with new tools being added each month. It’s important to note that offerings on the list always have free versions that might be missing a few features, but none are trial-only versions. What’s more, those that no longer meet the specifications of this curated list are removed.


During my presentation at the upcoming ATD Core 4 Conference, I’ll offer an in-depth look at my favorite tools from each category. We’ll explore everything from audio, image, and video editing tools, to VR and 3D animation products. For instance, I plan on covering versatile project management tools like Trello and Harvest, image sources like Unsplash and Pixels, and audio sources such as ZapSplat and Freesound. Together, we’ll review what makes each tool stand out and how it can be used for your own projects you are designing, developing, or managing.

So, if you’re in the same boat as me—trying to stretch your dollars while making stellar learning solutions—be sure to join me September 10-11 in Toronto for the ATD Core 4 Conference.

About the Author

Tracy Parish is an education technology specialist for a regional health centre in the Greater Toronto area. She has a diverse educational background of computer programming, adult educational, and eLearning design and development, leading to an instructional design career. Tracy has over 15 years of experience in instructional design, development, and project management, as well as LMS implementation and administration. She is an active Articulate Community Hero, co-host of the Toronto Storyline User Group, and the webcast Nerdy Shop Talk, the Social Media/Marketing Director for the Canadian eLearning Conference, and a moderator of the weekly Twitter event #lrnchat.

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