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5 Free Learning Resources that Add Value to your Business Bottom Line

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By: Sarah A Scala, M. Ed & OD
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A client once asked me what the best learning resources were to support their competencies. The Human Resources department had a high level of requests for outside training courses, conferences, books, and resources, and HR was overwhelmed trying to decide which resources would add the most value, be most appropriate, and cost effective. We designed a guidebook listing the top resources for each competency so that HR and managers would have a source to be used both during development planning and annual reviews, as well as for when employees asked for more learning and development.  

Some resources that you may want to consider offering to support your Learning and Development needs:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): These are courses online that are different from traditional e-learning. There are often 1000’s of people enrolled, and users can move at their own pace with assignments due weekly. Some courses involve group projects. Lectures are online, and students can access them when it is convenient. Having competed over 20 MOOC courses since starting my company five years ago, I recommend Coursera and EdX. These courses can be available for free or a low price from some of the top universities in the world.  

Coursera includes courses from universities such as Stanford, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and Penn. They have an app for Android and iOS, in addition to being available on the Internet. A Stanford class I took a few years ago through Coursera put me on a global project team with students who were employees of Google and Facebook. Together, we proposed solutions for learning design in third world countries. EdX has courses from MIT, Harvard, and Georgetown, to name a few. Most of their courses are free, and if you would like a Verified Certificate of Completion, these are available for a low cost. I was exposed to top faculty at major colleges and universities through MOOCs, and enjoy their flexibility.

TED Talks: Another excellent resource for supporting competencies and enhancing learning, they are 8-15-minute presentations on a specific topic and are free. These are accessible on the Internet or via an Android or iOS app. You could incorporate a TED Talk before your class or after, include some TED Talks in a guidebook of current learning resources or a company newsletter.      

Top Business Books: With so many bestselling business books available, you may not have physical space in your corporate library for all of them. I recommend Overdrive as a corporate library resource. This provides 24/7 access to books and audio books that can be read online, downloaded in Amazon Kindle Format, or on the Overdrive App to listen to audio books. I check out audio books via Overdrive often, especially when traveling, so that I can keep my learning sharp.

On The Job projects: A great way to support learning transfer after a course or as part of a development plan, these often have no cost and the experiential approach makes them very effective.  A resource I often use when suggesting competency development is For Your Improvement by Korn Ferry. This book details In Place Assignment suggestions to strengthen many competencies.

Mentor Programs: Having a strong mentor program and culture will help employees at any stage of their career.  To learn more about our approach to mentoring, check out my Case Study or Blog on Mentor Programs with Positive ROI.

Business Bottom Line: Free, quality learning impacts the bottom line because employees can develop needed skills and close gaps.  These resources help with the development of competencies, and are flexible to accommodate different schedules and styles of preferred learning. Millennials, Gen X, and Baby-Boomers all appreciate flexibility! With these resources available for free, employees can learn at any time without having to request permission to spend money in the budget. These are especially helpful for entrepreneurs and those who are self-employed and may not have a large Training budget.       

How are you supporting continuous learning at your company or organization? Leave a Comment to Share.

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