21 Brilliant Resources for Up-skilling Learning Designers

Resources for Up-skilling Learning Designers for the Informal & Social Learning Age


Instructional designers need to run, not walk, away from classroom-thinking and get to the point of providing short, quick business focused learning points that are easily accessible when and where our learners need them. This means leveraging new technologies to deliver non-traditional instruction.”- Karl Kapp


We, like many out there, are of the view that, though most learning designers possess good levels of skills around the traditional training (formal learning) area, their skill levels fall short around the informal or social learning areas. This is mainly because designing informal and social learning experiences for workplaces demands a diverse and unique set of qualities.

Today, while we are in the midst of up-skilling our learning designers, we set out on a quick journey to revisit our most precious resources on this subject in order to see how to leverage these in our up-skilling exercise.

Below are the questions we had in mind when we embarked on our journey:

  • Where are today’s learning designers with respect to their skills in designing learning interventions for informal and social learning in today’s learning scenario?
  • What are the new skills required for designing informal and social learning interventions for today’s workplaces?
  • What are some of the useful resources available on this subject that could benefit learning professionals?


Below are some of the interesting resources (from a big list we examined in this exploratory journey) on this subject that we would like to share with you.



  • For anybody to become a Social Learning Practitioner to help their own organization embrace social learning, they need to ‘Walk the Social Talk’.” – Jane Hart (Founder, Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies)
  • “I might disagree that L&D professionals possess high-level skills around formal learning, too. That’s why the instigators of the Serious eLearning Manifesto banded together; too few people were applying good formal learning principles! That said, there are rich skill statements out of places like ASTD and LPI.” – Clark Quinn (In our interview with him) 
  • As more learning designers become aware of the latest research, through their Personal Learning Networks, it will eventually take hold. The industry and our clients move slowly. We just have to keep pushing for positive change and celebrate the small victories.” – Connie Malamed (In our interview with her)
  • The eLearning community is headed for more collaboration and less formal instruction. So, as a learning professional, you need to be able to adapt to that and to gain awareness as to how you can tap into the various learning strategies and models in order to provide the best possible learning experience for the student/employee.” – Christopher Pappas (In our interview with him)
  • Almost all Learning professionals need to work on up-skilling themselves in new approaches and new technologies as these come into more widespread use...Key capabilities include understanding performance support and the options it offers, understanding and tracking developments in learning technologies and other technologies that may be used to support learning and development, and also rapid development skills.” – Charles Jennings (In our interview with him)
  • To succeed in social media you have to have strong social skills by nature.” – Connie Malamed (In our interview with her)



  • harmon.ie Study
    This report on how senior executives are faring in the usage of social media, though dated, contains some interesting facts, such as the one below. “Many Senior Executives like to talk the social media talk. But only 10% walk the social talk!”
  • Gartner Report
    Gartner says that 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve intended benefits through 2015. The reasons attributed to this failure are inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology. 


Articles/Blog Posts

  • Top 9 Competencies of an Informal/Social Learning Designer
    This is our post on the top 9 competencies that a learning designer needs to possess for actively engaging in the design and development of informal and social learning interventions.
  • Top 8 Competencies of a Mobile Learning Designer
    This is our post on the top 8 competencies that a learning designer needs to possess for actively engaging in the design and development of mobile learning activities.
  • Top 10 Competencies of a Gamified Learning Designer
    This is our post on the top 10 competencies that a learning designer needs to possess for actively engaging in the design and development of gamified learning solutions.
  • How we use social media for informal learning
    This blog post, by Steven Boller of Bottom-Line Performance, discusses about #TalkTech – a 30 minute chat they hold once a week on Twitter – an interesting activity that helps his company successfully practice informal learning with the effective use of social media.
  • Power to the Learners
    An interesting read! The experiences of people who attended EDUC 689 – an informal course on ‘Designing for Informal Learning’ – before, during, and after the class in the form of 140-character tweets that they shared with the readers of eLearn Magazine.



  • Social Learning Practitioner Programme
    This is a first of its kind program aimed at learning professionals who aspire to help their organizations become ‘social’. The program is from Jane Hart (through The Connected Workplace Consultancy – her joint initiative with Harold Jarche).
  • Learning Flow
    This is a learning framework that was recently introduced by Jane Hart. It is aimed at helping learning designers successfully integrate informal and social learning activities with formal learning interventions.



  • The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual
    This new book (edited by Rob Hubbard) includes some wonderful insights on the different aspects of learning such as informal and social learning, mobile learning, micro learning, and gamified learning from global learning experts (such as Clive Shepherd, Laura Overton, Jane Bozarth, Lars Hyland, Rob Hubbard, Julie Wedgwood, Jane Hart, Colin Steed, Clark Quinn, Ben Betts and Charles Jennings).
  • Social Learning Handbook 2014
    This book by Jane Hart is an excellent resource on social learning that has gained immense popularity in the L&D world. It includes some brilliant ideas for organizations to support social learning in the workplace.
  • Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance
    This brilliant book by Jay Cross discusses ways to design optimized informal learning outcomes for workplaces.
  • Social Media for Trainers
    This book by Jane Bozarth is a practical guide aimed at helping trainers with the knowledge and skills required to incorporate social networking techniques into training activities. The book provides an overview of the popular social media tools along with plenty of ideas and examples to leverage each medium′s unique features and applications to extend learning beyond typical training events. 




As we came to end of our search, we had the following learnings as ‘take-aways’ from our little journey:

  • The trend points to increased acceptance of informal and social ways of learning. More and more organizations around the world are looking at ways to tap the power of these unconventional approaches of learning.
  • We are inspired by Jane Hart’s call to ‘Walk the Social Talk’, and consider this as the most significant ‘action’ required on the part of learning designers to get equipped for handling the challenges of designing informal and social learning interventions for today’s workplaces.
  • ‘Walking the Social Talk’ is the solution for any organization to be ‘enlightened’. However, we are of the opinion that this should be extended to all stakeholders impacted by learning (including the organization, management, Learning & Development (L&D), learning tools/platform, employees, and maybe even customers and vendors).


What are your thoughts and experiences on up-skilling learning designers for the informal and social learning age? What resources would you like to share on this subject?