30+ Ideas for eLearning Portfolio Samples

Whether you’re working independently or looking for a full-time job, you need a portfolio. What if you can’t use any samples of your existing work due to confidentiality or security requirements? You need to revise or create elearning portfolio samples.

Revise existing work

In some cases, it’s enough to remove logos and a few identifying details. In other cases, you can redo an existing activity with brand new content. For example, the Instructional Designer or eLearning Developer demo in my portfolio is based on an activity I originally created for a health care client. The mechanics of the interaction are the same, but the graphics and content are brand new.

Create short elearning samples

For many people, the best solution is creating new content from scratch. For portfolio samples, you don’t generally need to create a full-blown, 60 minute course. Five minutes or less is usually enough. Most prospective employers or clients won’t watch longer than a few minutes anyway. One really great interaction will have more impact than a 20-minute presentation.

Focus on your intended audience

Target your desired audience. If you want a job creating soft skills training, create customer service samples. If you love software training, create that kind of samples. My portfolio only includes scenario-based learning because those are the kinds of projects I want.

I sometimes see overly simply topics like “make a sandwich” for elearning portfolio samples. I know some people recommend those, but personally, those feel fake. They’re OK if you’re exclusively a developer and don’t want to do any instructional design work. Those kinds of fake topics can show off your graphic design and technical skills just fine.

However, if you’re looking for work as an instructional designer, those kinds of samples often show a mismatch in intended audience. “How to make a sandwich” is OK if your intended audience is children or restaurant staff. However, it feels a little condescending if your intended audience is adults who probably already know how to make a simple sandwich.

It’s also easier to add a description for your sample if the topic is more realistic. You can talk about what problem you’re solving and why you made specific design choices (even if it’s for an imaginary organization).

Screenshot of my portfolio

Elearning portfolio sample ideas

Elearning portfolio sample ideas

If you need to create samples, use the list below to jump start your brainstorming. None of these require much specialized knowledge; you should be able to write the content yourself with a little online research. Feel free to use your imagination to decide on your audience and their needs.

Soft Skills & Business Training

  1. Respond to customer objections (use your imagination and make up a product to sell or support)
  2. Respond to angry customers
  3. Give an elevator pitch
  4. Ask customers questions to understand their needs
  5. How to interview for a job (you could break this down further–appropriate clothes, asking questions of the interviewer, research before the interview, answering common questions, etc.)
  6. Resume writing
  7. How to interview people (maybe focusing on illegal questions to avoid or a specific method of interviewing)
  8. Conflict management/resolution
  9. Time management
  10. Prioritizing tasks
  11. Provide constructive feedback to colleagues
  12. Evaluate online sources for credibility
  13. Provide workplace accommodations for disabilities (this probably requires a little research, but the ADA information is publicly available)
  14. Rules for accepting gifts from customers/clients
  15. Onboarding or orientation (make up a fake company and introduce new employees to the leadership team and company mission)
  16. Tips for managing scope creep in projects
  17. SMART goals
  18. Answer the phone, phone greetings
  19. Create a SWOT analysis
  20. How to set expectations with SMEs
  21. How to chunk and organize content to make it easier to understand

Software Training

  1. Adjust master slides in PowerPoint
  2. Use the morph transition tool in PowerPoint to create cool effects
  3. How to create an animated course intro in Camtasia, Vyond, or another tool
  4. Create pivot tables in Microsoft Excel
  5. Create a budget spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets)
  6. Create forms with conditional paths in Google Forms
  7. Manage files and templates in Canva
  8. Trim and splice multiple video clips together (use any program or app you want for this; free apps are fine)
  9. Merge comments from multiple reviewers in Word
  10. Customize the ribbon in any Microsoft Office program
  11. Use styles in Word for a consistent look
  12. Create handouts in PowerPoint
  13. Create folders to organize Outlook
  14. Use filters to be more efficient with email
  15. Edit out noise in Audacity
  16. Use brushes or filters in Photoshop
  17. Assign tasks to team members in a project management tool (Microsoft Project, Basecamp, etc.)
  18. Upload a course in an LMS (whichever system you know best)
  19. Saving and organizing links and notes with Evernote, Pocket, or another tool
  20. Create consistent file naming conventions
  21. Any cool trick you know in Storyline, Rise, Captivate, Vyond, or the eLearning development tool of your choice (this also shows your expertise with the tool)

Other Sources of Ideas

  1. Kristin Anthony has a free tool for generating portfolio sample ideas.
  2. The Freelance Instructional Designers, eLearning Developers, & LXDs Facebook group has portfolio challenges. Look in the Files section for sample briefs with descriptions of fictitious clients and their requests. Even if you don’t want to join the contests and post to the group, you can use the past briefs for project inspiration.
  3. The eLearning Heroes challenges are one way many people have successfully built portfolio samples.
  4. Check out the course lists on Udemy, Open Sesame, LinkedIn Learning, or similar sites. All of these can be inspiration for your own samples.
  5. You! What ideas do you have for portfolio samples? Leave a comment and share your thoughts so everyone can benefit.

More Resources

Originally published 7/14/16. Last updated with additional ideas 6/9/22.

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28 thoughts on “30+ Ideas for eLearning Portfolio Samples”

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  6. Thank you for sharing your expertise so generously. Really impressed with how quickly you have me thinking about next steps. Sharing this super-organized gold-mine of a site near and far. Many blessings and THANKS

  7. Hajnalka Dancsi

    Christy, thank for this article. I am new to Instructional Design, and I must admit I’ve binge read your articles – so very useful. Thank you for sharing so much, you have no idea how helpful this is for inexperienced IDs!

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  11. I swear you can read my mind! This is something I’m struggling to figure out. Thanks for the resource!

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  13. I’m new to eLearning (< 2 years experience and all at a company where I have limited resources and very strict rules on software I am allowed to use). I am not able to email project links or upload them to external file sharing sites because it would be considered a security violation at my current employer. I also do not have and cannot afford to purchase the software for personal use but wanted to create a simple portfolio to showcase my best work should I need it for future job searching. I'm considering downloading a free trial to the software I use (Storyline 3, Replay). I guess my question is If I can create a few samples using a free trial – how do I publish or export the final product so any potential hiring manager could view it? I know that is a dumb question, but the only experience I have now with publishing a file is for upload to our LMS.

    1. The free trial does sound like the best option for you. Right now, do you publish to SCORM and upload a zip file to your LMS? You’ll need to publish it for Web instead of for an LMS.
      In Storyline 3, select Publish > Web. I recommend changing the format to HTML5 for anything you publish now, given the impending demise of Flash.
      Ideally, you would have your own (paid) website as your portfolio so you could just upload files via FTP. If you’re looking for free options, Tom Kuhlmann just posted an option for free file hosting with step-by-step directions. https://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/free-share-courses-online/

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  17. Thank you very much for these great, practical ideas. Like others who have commented, I need to create/revamp some portfolio examples. This article is very timely.

  18. Thank you very much for sharing your ideas with us! This article is really helpful and timely. I just created my own professional website and I need to add some e-learning samples. I love your suggestions – they are easy to apply!

  19. Again this is very timely for me and thank you for enforcing ideas I’ve got for creating more ‘meaty’ samples i.e. upto 5 mins, most of my current samples are entries from Articulate ELH challenges. Christy to the rescue! Thanks

    1. Many of my current samples are just screenshots from older work. I need to do a few updates myself. I thought some brainstorming on topics would be helpful for others too.

  20. Thank you for this timely article. I’m currently working as a Senior Instructional Designer and I need to revamp my portfolio. Although I enjoy my current position, I have plans to become a full-time freelancer in early 2017. I want to bid on (and win) a few small projects prior to doing so. Your article will help me as revamp my online portfolio. Thanks!

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