Ten People Every Learning Pro Should Know

I was just talking with colleague the other day about the best way to get started in the Learning & Development field when I saw Amanda Nolan´s Linkedin post asking for some input on people´s favorite resources for new comers. I wanted to answer but I quickly realized that I would need more space than a social media reply would allow. So here are some of the people and resources I´ve found most valuable.

The first, and most important thing for someone new to our field is curiosity. Many people find their way into our profession ¨accidentally¨. I´ve yet to meet the person who has dreamed all their life of becoming an instructional designer, elearning devolper, or any other L&D role. While it is natural to follow your intuition when you´re just starting out, it is curiosity that sets a great practioner apart from all the rest. The curiosity to confirm that your intuition is aligned to evidence-based practices. It is also curiosity that drives the desire to continuously learn and always looking to improve.

Here are some of my favorite workplace learning resources:


These are the books I recommend for anyone working in Workplace Learning. You can read a bit about why I chose each of these here.

Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna–How to Figure out Why People Aren’t Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It Robert Mager & Peter Pipe

Find it in a library | Amazon

Performance Consulting: A Strategic Process to Improve, Measure, and Sustain Organizational Results Dana Gaines Robinson, James Robinson, Jack Phillips Partricia Phillips & Dick Handshaw

Find it in a library | Amazon

E-learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning Ruth Clark & Richard Mayer

Find it in a library | Amazon

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It Steven Pressfield

Find it in a library | Amazon

Visual Design Solutions: Principles and Creative Inspiration for Learning Professionals Connie Malamed

Find it in a library | Amazon

Write and Organize for Deeper Learning: 28 evidence-based and easy-to-apply tactics that will make your instruction better for learning Patti Shank

If you´re still looking for more check out these recommendations from Connie Malamed (@elearningcoach)

and JD Dillon (@jd_dillon)

What others would you add to this list?

Social Media

Fortunately, social media provides us with a great opportunity to connect and learn along with a huge number of leaders in our field and others. If you have a favorite author, speaker, expert, etc take a few minutes to look them up online. Many times you can connect with and learn along with them without having to spend money on expensive conferences and without waiting for their next book to be published.


Twitter is one of my most valuable sources of learning because of the connections I have made there. I admit that when I first signed up for Twitter, I didn’t really know what to do with it. The light bulb finally went off after I discovered #lrnchat and the amazing conversations happening there among that wonderful group of people.

One good way to manage Twitter and avoid being overwhelmed by it all is to use lists. Lists allow you to put together a subset of people organized around a particular topic. For example, Luis Suarez (@elsua) has a nice list for Workplace Learning you can start with. Instead of manually finding and following a bunch of people, you can just pop over and follow his list. Bam! You´ve just plugged into an Instant workplace learning fountain of knowledge. If you´d like to build a list of your own here are ¨100 People Who Tweet About Workplace Learning” compiled by Jane Hart (@c4lpt)

If you’re interested in having conversations with other people interested in learning related topics you should try one of these twitter chats.

  • #lrnchat – This was the key for me to seeing the value in Twitter. Super smart people having interesting, relevant conversations in the learning space. Every Thursday night. Learn more at http://lrnchat.com/
  • #guildchat – This one is run by the good folks at the ElearningGuild. Mark & Bianca always run a good fun conversation. You can check out a recap of past editions at https://twist.elearningguild.net/tag/guildchat/

If you participate in others that you’d recommend, please leave a comment and let us know!


No matter what path you take, ultimately you’ll find the most valuable resources are the people behind the books, blogs, and tweets. Here are some of the people that I’ve found who have helped me the most over the years. I am very thankful for how much the people on this list and others have informed and influenced my thinking over the years.

Harold Jarche – Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is an important skill that every professional should have. http://www.jarche.com

Jane Hart – Modern Workplace Learning is a great resource for finding better, more holisitic ways to approach workplace learning. http://www.modernworkplacelearning.com

John Stepper – Working Out Loud is an easy to implement philosophy that benefits both you and your organization. www.workoutloud.com

Clive Shepherd is a valuable contributor to L&D thinking. Check out his book, the New Learning Architect http://www.cliveonlearning.com/

John Hagel is a top voice on 21st-century information-age institutional leadership and important concepts including accessing and working with knowledge flows. https://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/

Mark Britz – Organizational Design & Social Business are key components of getting results that are far too often overlooked. https://markbritz.com/

Patti Shank is a wealth of practical, research-backed knowledge presented in a very easy to understand way.  http://www.pattishank.com

Will Thalheimer scours learning-related research and interprets for the rest of us. http://www.worklearning.com

Mirjam Neelen & Paul Kirschner run a fabulous 3 Star Learning Experiences evidence informed blog for learning professionals. https://3starlearningexperiences.wordpress.com/

Jane Bozarth is in charge of research for the Elearning Guild. http://bozarthzone.blogspot.com/

So there you have it. I’m certain there are others who I’ve missed. The good thing is that by connecting with people like this and building your own personal network, you’ll find your way to others. Your network will be different than mine and that’s ok. Every one of us has unique interests and needs. The most important thing is just getting started. There are so many smart, generous and helpful people in the workplace learning field that you’d be crazy to not take advantage of the many great things they are sharing.

Who are the people that you’ve found most helpful?

Published by Mike Taylor

Born with a life-long passion for learning, I have the great fortune to work at the intersection of learning, design, technology & collaboration.

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