Christmas is on the way, therefore, it is a great opportunity for us to compile a full list of all those online learning tools, resources, and courses we’re thankful for. Let’s take a closer look: 1. Personal Learning Networks We can’t stop talking about the power of . We’re thankful for the people and resources that allow us to learn so much so casually. Essentially, a PLN is the people you surround yourself with to make yourself better. personal learning networks or PLNs An individual’s personal learning network can be described as an informal and personally curated community of professionals, industry thought-leaders or organizations that consistently create and/or share valuable information with the goal of educating their community. It’s a casual approach to meaningful . professional development The 3 main pillars of a great PLN are: A Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Or else, PLEs are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. They often live on social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Linkedin. Industry Thought Leaders Thought leaders are the well-informed opinion leaders of any given industry. They can be found hanging out in various PLEs across the web. Some eLearning, online learning, or education thought leaders we’re thankful for are: Peter Schroeder Christopher Pappas Jeff Cobb David Kelly Melissa A. Venable Simon McIntyre Steve Cornwell The Community And Its Wealth Of Resources A PLN cannot survive without active members who feed their networks with informed and relevant content. Some publications or blogs that consistently serve up fresh content in our industry are: 2. Tools And Sites That Simplify Design For Educators Turning your online courses into an inspiring work of art isn’t as difficult as it seems. With the right tools and a little know-how, you can take your project from sloppy to shiny in no time. Check out the design tools and sites we’re thankful for this holiday season: Images Need some beautiful, royalty-free images to spruce up the look and feel of your online school? Look no further than: Death to the Stock Photo The Stocks Unsplash Pexels Graphic River Color Choosing the right color is a crucial part of designing a great school. Humans instinctively react to colors differently, so selecting a color palette that reinforces your message while appealing to a broad audience is no easy feat. With that said, these tools will help you get the job done: COLOURlovers Adobe’s Kuler ColorZilla Infographics According to the Sage Handbook of Political Communication, the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes the brain to decode text. So, get your infographic on with these great (and free) tools: Piktochart Easel.ly Charted 3. Tools And Sites That Improve Learner Engagement should be at the top of your priority list, seeing as engaged learners give rave reviews and boost word-of-mouth marketing for your course. Check out our list of engagement tools we’re thankful to have: Learner engagement Upload an educational slide presentation and then embed it into a course activity. This is especially easy if you’re using . Slideshare SchoolKeep Storify is a great way for you and your students to tell compelling stories about any topic by finding, collecting and sharing what people say all over the web. Storify Disqus is a comment hosting service for websites and online communities that uses a networked platform. Some online learning platforms integrate with Disqus, enabling educators to include discussion and collaboration on specific course activities. Disqus Need to live stream a lesson or host interactive conversations with students around the world? Hangouts on air make it easy! Hangouts On Air Two words: video analytics. We’re big fans of data here at , and that’s why we’re super thankful for Wistia’s hosting service. By hosting videos with Wistia, educators can see exactly which parts of a video lesson a viewer watched, skipped, and rewatched. Wistia SchoolKeep 4. Tools And Sites To Distribute Online Courses For educators in the business of both creating and promoting online courses, distribution and marketing are two very important arenas. Check out the list of tools below to make raising awareness and attracting students easy: Course talk is an online course library that pulls courses from platforms across the web. Students visit their site to find and purchase courses in various subject areas. As an educator, getting your courses listed in a library like Course Talk could result in several hundred enrollments. Course Talk Attract students to your course by uploading teasers to Youtube. Teasers can take the form of a few brief tutorial videos ending in a call-to-action that drives students to your course page or catalog. Youtube MailChimp allows companies to create and manage a training newsletter. Newsletters can be used to promote new courses, provide prospecting students with discounts, coupons, and incentives, as well as keep your community/workforce up to date. MailChimp or Both Buffer and Hootsuite are a social media management system for brand management across popular social networking sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Google+. The easy-to-navigate user interface takes the form of a dashboard, which gives you immediate visibility into all of your accounts. Buffer Hootsuite Many online educators begin the process of marketing by building an email list with a landing page. These are targeted pages that break down what your online school teaches and how potential students will benefit. Landing pages include a form, which consists of fields such as name, email, phone number, etc. Having a beautiful landing page will help you attract a long list of student and leads. Unbounce helps coding-deficient marketers create these beautiful landing pages for free. Unbounce 5. A Bright Future For Us All To finish this list of thanks, we wanted to wrap up by pointing out just how thankful we are for being a part of an innovative industry with such a bright future! According to market research, the online learning market will reach . That’s astounding! A growing market means new technology and better solutions to the eLearning problems of the past. That’s what we’re working on at , and we’re very thankful to be a part of it all. $325 billion by 2025 SchoolKeep Happy holidays! Originally published at elearningindustry.com on December 18, 2017.