• Mahalia Knight

Empowering Rockstars and Champions: An Overview of some Instructional Development Online Resources

Updated: Aug 8

Today I wanted to spotlight some excellent instructional design and education blogs and podcasts. I’d love to hear what online content inspires you! Feel free to leave comment at the post--and please, follow some of these content creators!

Train Like a Champion is a blog written by Brian Washburn, CEO and Co-Founder of Endurance Learning (and ex-GWU professional mascot, Go Wart Hogs!); his blog dates back to 2012. I was curious as to what knowledge Washburn has collected over the years, and was not disappointed.

First, I scrolled through TLaC to posts dating from about 2019. I was impressed how often Washburn posts and the consistency of his entries. Washburn has posting useful and interesting posts pinned down to a science; a catchy title, often an opening question or anecdote, and then a concise article, conversational in tone, written on a specific topic. In one delightful post, Washburn suggests some design lessons we can learn from the anime, Naruto.

Reading through Train Like a Champion, I learned the importance of humour and authenticity. Bloggers are “most vulnerable to the ebb and flow of attention and response” from their audience (Rosenburg, 2009). It’s easy for bloggers to feel pressured into mining their personal lives for content, or building walls of words in order to insulate themselves. However, after reading through his blog, I discovered Washburn is passionate about his kids, podcasts, and oblique references to 80’s movies, but his posts never waver from discussion from instruction design and learning. His writing style is clear and laid-back and makes reading through his job feel like chatting with a keen, well-informed neighbour, not a lecture.

Next, I’d like to jump to “the birth of a podcast” with Be an Instructional Design, Rockstar, Stamper understands the mindsets of people transitioning from education to instructional design, and is a position to “think more effectively about the subject matter [she’s] teaching” (Ormnod, n.d.). Like Stamper, I have also been in education for about ten years and feel both inspired but also trapped by the education field. As Stamper puts it, “I have this great education degree…what else can I do?” I feel a kind of camaraderie with Stamper through our shared professional background (and love of One Tree Hill) and am very receptive to her message.

With only one episode so far, I do look forward to hearing more from Stamper. My only critique is the audio and editing. There are more than a few audio glitches and mic thuds, and the breaks between segments can be fine-tuned. Make sure to subscribe to Be an Instructional Design, Rockstar on your favourite audio platform today. The world could always use more rockstars.

My last suggestion is in the field of teaching resources and training. The reality for teachers is that professional development opportunities offered are often scant or uninspiring. Educators do not often “self-select learning opportunities” or “engage in meaningful, ongoing conversations” related to our respective fields (Ferriter, 2009). As an educator, I value professional development, but have been sorely disappointed in the past. I once sat, dumbfounded as the lecturer attempted to teach us how to juggle. Empowering ELLs is a resource centre and blog by Tan Huynh. Each blog entry features content related to teaching learners of English, ranging from technology in the classroom to specific methods for teaching vocabulary acquisition.

Frankly, I am surprised Huynh’s website and blog are not more widely known as the quality and content are excellent. In his exhaustive blog posts, Huynh explains an aspect of learning theory and then leads educators through a strategy to begin implementing better teaching practices in their classrooms. Empowering ELLs is a wealth of information; Huynh also hosts a podcast and teaching courses. My personal favourite corner of the website is the “Bathroom Briefs,” bite-sized teaching strategy handouts designed for strategic placement even the most busy of educators couldn’t help but stop to read. Huynh’s work is informative, useful, even whimsical—no juggling necessary.

Unfortunately, Empowering ELLs has not been updated since March of this year. Huynh teaching courses are also on hiatus, and Huynh explains he is taking time to restructure the content. Considering how thoughtful and passionate Huynh is, I have no doubts he is hard at work engineering something great and eagerly await for what he has planned next.


Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). An introduction to learning [Video file]. Baltimore, MD:

Author. Jean Omrod n.d.

Rosenberg, S. (2009). When Everyone has a blog (pp. 403-438). Say everything: How blogging

began, what it’s becoming, and why it matters. New York, NY: Crown.

Smith, M. K. (1999). Learning theory. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from

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