Some of these may be obvious to you, while others may surprise you. If you are starting out in the learning industry (instructional design, LMS administrator, etc.), or even if you are seasoned pro, you should absolutely know about these different learning sites.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to visit them daily; pick the ones that speak to you and run with them.
This one kind of goes without saying, the ASTD is one of the largest organizations dedicated to training and development. Don’t worry, you don’t have to shell out the money to become a member right away – the site has plenty of free resources you can leverage, including past online issues of their popular magazine “T&D”. I find their forums online to be a bit lifeless, but the LinkedIn group is always full of great content. They also offer one of the fields’ most well known certifications: Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP).
Much like ASTD, ISPI is a good place to start if you want to read some great content on by some of the fields’ most prominent people. You will often see that people in the learning field are part of both ASTD and ISPI because of the great content offered by both organizations. That said, you do not need to be a member of ISPI to benefit. There are plenty of free resources to keep you busy for a while. ISPI offers a certification that is very well known (much like the one offered by ASTD): Certified Performance Technologist (CPT).
The e-Learning Guild is a great resource if your focus is primarily on web based course development. They have a very robust (and free) online magazine titled Learning Solutions Magazine. Here you can find plenty of articles ranging from new technologies, best practices, and industry trends. They also run a popular seminar series where experts delivery webinars on a variety of topics. A newbie to the group compared to the first two (it has been around for 10yrs), the e-Learning group is gaining ground as the premier location for e-Learning professionals.
A little less known than the first three is the STC. That said, the STC has been around for quite some time. The primary focus of the STC is technical writing, but it also encompases instructional design as well as some other prominent areas. Again, like the other sites, they offer some free resources and networking capabilities. This organization is a must if you are involved in technical writing. They also offer a certification: Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC).
Think of E-Learning Learning as a constantly updated hub for some of the industry commentary from bloggers, businesses, and professional societies. The site was created by (and is still managed) by Rapid Intake, a big industry SaaS player for e-Learning design and hosting. There are a ton of different categories you can filter by, and the site even allows you to customize your own dashboard so you are only presented with news/updates on topics that interest you.
Whether you use Articulate or not for your training development the e-Learning heros section the Articulate site is an awesome resource for learning templates, themes, icons, storyboard templates, and general e-Learning support. If you are new to the field then you should definately register at e-Learning Heros. If you are in the field and not yet a member then you really need to head over there, the free graphics alone are a good way to spice up your training.
Training Industry is updated with articles on a regular basis for all things related to the training industry. They also publish a quarterly magazine with the same title (“Training Industry”). One of the most well known features about this site is their huge directory that contains a massive list of instructional designers, learning solution providers, training SaaS providers, and more. You can easily filter the articles by the different communities. It’s also useful to view the Top 20 lists that they release in a variety of different areas.
[added 7/27/2012] This site is an absolutely fantastic resource for all things e-Learning related, the primary focus of the site. What’s more, it has arguably the most experienced thought leaders contributing content. Their case studies and white papers are a fantastic way to gain perspective into the field, as well as their two magazines, Elearning! and Government Elearning! Each year, Elearning presents awards (“Best of E-Learning“) to learning industry for a variety of categories, as voted by the readers.