Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers

A recent LinkedIn eLearning Guild Group member asked “What are the top tools for freelance elearning design and development?” and 100 comments later, there was quite a list.

The result was a nice mix of both specific software for getting the work done and advice and suggestions related to running a freelance business.

Here is my attempt to categorize and capture all of the recommendations, in no particular order of course. While I tried to include everything that was mentioned, my apologies if  I may have missed one or two…

  • Software Suites and Packages – Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe eLearning Suite, Articulate Studio, Microsoft Office, Open Office, Google Tools

  • Rapid Development – Captivate, Lectora, Cam Studio, Camtasia, Articulate
  • Screencapture/Screencast – Jing, Screenhunter, Snagit (very popular!), Snap4

  • Image/Photo Editing – PaintNet, GIMP, PaintShop Pro
  • Video – Sony Vegas Pro, Sorenson Squeeze, After Effects, Celtx Script Writing
  • Audio – Audacity, Soundbooth, Levelator
  • Delivery – LMS, Portal – WordPress, Drupal, Blackboard, Moodle

  • Synchronous Communication – Skype, DimDim, Elluminate, WebEx, Centra, LiveMeeting, Oovoo
  • Programming Skills – PHP, HTML5, CSS3, SCORM
  • Project Management –, OpenWorkbench, MSProject, LotusLive
  • Business Operations – Dropbox,, Adobe Acrobat, PrimoPDF, QuickBooks, FreshBooks,, FastTrack, BullZip, PDFPen, Zoho, and a local small business Accountant
  • Professional Development – Books – Roam, Clark, Horton; Advice –,; Networking and Mentorship – professional associations recommended: ASTD, IPSI
  • And more… Notepad++, iSpringFree, Flash Firestarter, SwishMax2, MindManager, Prezi, Xtranormal,, Tokbox, Adobe Kuler, Wampserver, Balsamiq, Questionmark, Madcap Flare, Color Schemer, Fireshot, and Compliance testing sites

A few absolutes to close: Internet access, a powerful computer with multiple monitors, coffee, aspirin, a sense of humor, and a support system!

How about it, Freelancers? Any corrections or additions to the list?

Update! (12/1/2010): Please see the cross posting on OpenSesame. They have graciously provided links to each of these tools! Very helpful.

Image credit: keepthebyte, Flickr

6 thoughts on “Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers

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  5. Valerie

    This is a great list of tools—however—I have a question—can anybody recommend a list of “must haves” for the computer that an instructional designer is using to run these programs and create files? Thanks,


    1. Melissa A. Venable Post author

      Hi Valerie – Thanks for your question! I think we may get some differences of opinion on this one, and the usual PC vs. Mac debate… A lot of it depends on the type of work you’ll be doing, i.e. the requirements for creating static pages and presentations vs.creating simulations and editing. I’m going to send this question out to my Twitter network… let’s see what we find out. – Melissa



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