12 Instructional Design (ID) Tools for Fast, Free Course Creation

12 Instructional Design (ID) Tools for Fast, Free Course Creation

Level up your course creation game by checking out these 12 popular instructional design and eLearning tools (this is not an all-inclusive list). Each tool includes a free trial and many offer in-depth tutorials, so be sure to take advantage.

NOTE: It's important to spend your time on 2-3 tools that will give you the most leverage in getting your first ID job or a desired promotion. Study job postings. Which tools are mentioned, especially the tools you see over and over? What skills are required to perform the job successfully?

Choose carefully. Your time is a precious commodity. Think "progress over perfection." You don't have to master every tool in a week.

Authoring Tools

Articulate 360: Dynamic and popular authoring tool for both straightforward learning content and complex interactive courses. Storyline and Rise are the most popular offerings. The company offers a free 60-day trial and hundreds of fantastic live and recorded trainings, as well as course templates and the e-Learning Heroes community.

Adobe CaptivateThe learning curve here is a bit steeper for this authoring tool, but the company allows users incentives to earn free access to the tool. building complex interactive courses. It has great capabilities for making interactive videos, Virtual Reality (VR) projects, and software simulations, but comes with a steep learning curve.

SCORM Cloud - An online course test sandbox. Once you upload your courses to SCORM Cloud, you may share them directly with your learners, colleagues, or hiring managers.


Free Storyboard Templates: This is a great list put together by the folks at eLearning industry. Storyboarding is a useful design planning skill that can save loads of time, effort, and headaches. Keep in mind that not all companies or higher ed institutions will use the same template or format.

Course Templates

eLearning Brothers: This site has a large, ever-evolving library of eLearning templates including interactions, games, scenarios, quizzes, layouts, characters, PowerPoint graphics, stock images, and more.


Canva: I love Canva! In fact, I love it so much I upgraded to the Pro Version (I am not an affiliate). Canva offers thousands of templates, marketing materials, images, icons, and fonts. The site continues to impress with its dynamic templates and easy to use format.

Piktochart: Fantastic for infographics, presentation, posters. Free accounts include templates, icons, and images.


Vyond: Create slick, animated video courses with ease. My students have LOVED this tool for quick, fun videos.

PowToon: Make animated videos in minutes. Use the library of styles, characters, backgrounds and video, or upload your own. Easy to use. Not quite as polished as Vyond. May be more suitable for K-12 use.


Unsplash: Thousands of free stock photos with a Creative Commons Zero license.

Pixabay: I use this site frequently. Free images and videos to download and use for anything. No attribution required. 


Audacity: Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. Developed by a group of volunteers as open source.

Other Mentions: iSpring SuiteCamtasiaFaster CourseFlaticonScreencast-O-Matic

Thoughts? Other nominations to add to the list? I'd love for you to share your favorite free course-building or learning solution tools. Leave a comment below!

Stay Positive!

Dr. McNeill

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