The eLearning industry in currently experiencing a large amount of growth. Almost every major company, from Apple to Amazon, is looking to hire individuals who have skills in eLearning development. At the same time, there are more and more professionals who are choosing a career in eLearning development hoping to take advantage of the new opportunities that are available. In this blog post, I’ll discuss 4 ways to improve your eLearning skills so that you can set yourself apart from the other candidates.
It’s More than Just Knowing How to Use the Tools
If someone asked you, “What makes a good chef?”, would you say, “They should know how to use a knife”. You probably wouldn’t say this, because it’s already expected that any good chef can properly handle a knife. What makes a great chef is his ability to properly combine his ingredients into an amazing dish, his ability to present his food so that is looks appetizing, and his ability to come up with creative menu items. His knife skills are just one of the tools he used to cook his masterpiece. Along the same lines, if you were to ask someone, “What quality makes a good eLearning developer?”, chances are the response would be, “Someone who is awesome at Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline (or any other eLearning tool)”. While I would agree that having a mastery of eLearning development software is key, just as any good chef at minimum should have master knife skills, a good eLearning developer should at minimum be expected to have a strong grasp of his tools (regardless of what tool he or she chooses). It’s the eLearning developer who combines his/her expertise of tools along with additional skills and knowledge that will stand apart from the crowd. Below are 4 things that you can do to improve your overall eLearning skills along with some useful links:
1.) Learn Basic Programming Skills
2.) Learn Visual Design
Now more than ever, appearance counts. Your learners have become accustomed to interacting with top quality websites and apps, so they expect a good user experience. Gone are the days of being able to simply use old PowerPoint templates and clip art (or even worse, screen beans!) to build out your course. In my opinion, certain people are just born with an eye for design, (Just like certain people are born better singers or as great painters). You can still however learn to use tools like Photoshop or Illustrator to make basic graphics. You can also learn the basics of design and color theory. This will go a long way in helping you design layouts and templates for your projects that improve the learning experience in your projects.
- Color Theory for Designers Part 1
- Color Theory for Designers Part 2
- Beginners Adobe Photoshop
- User Experience Basics
3.) Learn Instructional Design
There are a large number of people who work in the profession of eLearning who don’t have a background in Instructional Design. Even if your current role doesn’t require you to develop any instructional content (for example, if you are paired with an Instructional Designer and your job is to develop the content that he/she provides you with), you should still be familiar with how to properly structure objectives and create evaluations. This knowledge can also potentially help you to properly structure your course within your tools. Finally, it will help you to learn the differences between developing eLearning as opposed to instructor-led training, and will also give you insight into different learning styles.
- Instructional Design on Wikipedia
- ASTD Instructional Design for eLearning Certificate Class
- Certificate of eLearning Instructional Design from the University of California Irvine
- Overview of Learning Styles
4.) Improve Your Writing Skills
In my opinion, good writing skills are one of the most underrated skills (in general) to have, but they will help you in many aspects of your eLearning career. It (combined with your Instructional Design skills) can help you to properly structure and chunk the content in your courses. In addition, strong writing skills will help you to craft narration for your eLearning projects that flows well and will engage your learners. You will also find that good writing skills will also come in handy in your everyday communication between your clients, subject matter experts and teammates.
- Essentials of Writing Effective eLearning Scripts ASTD Online Class
- 30 Bite Sized Tips for Better eLearning Content
- 50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills
- Storytelling In ELearning: The Why and How
Learn New Skills to Make Your eLearning Great
There are other skills that you can add to your toolbox (and I’d love to hear what additional skills you think are important, so please feel free to comment below!) that can help you to become an overall better eLearning professional in addition those that I have listed above. Take the time to brush up on a few of these skills, and I’m sure that not only will you find that your eLearning projects will improve, but you will also become a much sought after resource in the eLearning talent pool. Don’t just strive to be a tool expert, be an eLearning expert!