Are you looking to expand your knowlege on all things instructional design? Do you want to connect with other eLearning professionals and find out about the newest trends taking the industry by storm? Maybe you just need something to beef up you resume? Professional associations offer many benefits such as professional development opportunities, networking, job leads, bragging rights, etc, but often come at a high price. Luckily enough, there are professional associations for instructional designers that offer cheap, or even free memberships. Here are my top 3 most affordable professional associations that every instructional designer should join today!

Note: Most of these organizations are targeted towards those who live in the U.S. This is really only an issue when it comes to face-to-face conferences, however, many organizations also provide web conferences that are available internationally.

1. eLearning Guild

The eLearning Guild is arguably one of the oldest and  most popular eLearning professional associations online. They offer a variety of benefits from demo videos, to eBooks, to webinars. They provide information for any eLearning professionals including those in corporate, higher education, or government. My favorite feature of the eLearning Guild is their online job board. You can see open positions around the U.S. You can even upload your resume so that employers can find you!

General Membership
  • Cost: Free!
  • Benefits:
    • Access to demos
    • Webinars
    • eBooks/ White Papers
    • Newsletters
    • Blog Posts
    • Job Search Portal
Other Memberships
  • Cost:
    • Pro- $99/year
    • Plus- $395/year
    • Premium- $1,895/year
  • Benefits:
    • Access to Research Articles
    • Keynote Presentations
    • Discounts on Conferences
    • Certificate Programs (Premium Only)

2. Online Learning Consortium (OLC)

The Online Learning Consortium is a non-profit organization that strives to create a collaborative community of eLearning professionals by providing networking opportunities, webinars, conferences, research publications and many more. This professional association targets those in higher education more so than those working in corporate. One thing that makes them unique is that those with a paid membership also have access to the OLC’s consulting services– where they tell you how to improve the effectiveness of your online learning programs.

Community Membership
  • Cost: Free!
  • Benefits:
    • Access to online workshops, webinars
    • Research publications
    • Networking opportunities with other OLC members
Other Memberships
  • Cost:
    • Professional- $175/year
    • Institutional- based on university size
  • Benefits:
    • Discounts on workshops, webinars, conferences, etc.
    • Online consulting services
    • Score the effectiveness of your online programs (Institutional Only)

3. United Stated Distance Learning Association (USDLA)

The USDLA was one of the first professional societies for distance learning professionals. They offer benefits for those working in higher education, corporate, military, and governmental organizations. They offer the typical services; access to research journals, newsletters, conferences, etc. However, I’ll give them extra points for their networking opportunities, like their virtual “Watercooler” chats and their amazing student discount ($30 people!).

Individual Memberships
  • Price: $125/yr
    • Student Price: $30/yr
  • Benefits:
    • eLearning news alerts
    • Quarterly newsletters
    • Discounts on USDLA events (conferences, National Distance Learning Week)
    • Networking opportunities (online “water-cooler” chats, discussions)
Organizational Memberships
  • Price:
    • Non-Profit: $500
    • For-Profit: $1000
  • Benefits:
    • Submit press releases/news articles about your organization
    • Post Organization info on USDLA website


That’s all for now! Are there any other organizations you would recommend? Let me know in the comments down below!

Thank you for reading, and see you next time!



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