When I started working at Cinécraft, I was totally new to eLearning. I had no experience writing courses or using eLearning-specific development tools. However, I had a background in multimedia and writing, and a strong desire to learn, so I knew I could be successful. Now, a year later, I can build courses with both Storyline and Captivate, and I’m thriving as an instructional designer.
Here are eight recommendations, based on my experience as a new eLearning professional at a national eLearning vendor.
- Learn the process. The creation of any type of content requires a process. For most eLearning companies, it’s ADDIE. However, every company is different, so the ADDIE model often gets tweaked from place to place. Learn your company’s unique process by observing your co-workers, and asking questions.
- Get familiar with the tools. This is obvious if you’re working in development, but even if you won’t be using any of your company’s development tools, it’s important to get familiar with them so you can communicate more easily with the people who do use them. Watch a few tutorials (Lynda.com and the Articulate Community are great resources), or download a demo version and try it out. As in all things, ask your co-workers questions.
- Know your audience. Always keep your audience in the forefront of your mind when you’re designing or developing a course. Your audience includes your learners and your client, so the content you create needs to support both of their needs: learning objectives and business objectives. This can be tricky if you have little information about your audience, so it’s important to ask questions, and think about how the course supports their needs.
- Learn the language: The eLearning industry has lots of terms that you should know if you want to communicate effectively with co-workers and clients. Here’s a link to a list to get you started (FYI: this link takes you to Part 1 of 2). Also, remember that some terms, like module, may have slightly different meanings at different companies, so pay close attention to how these terms are used at your workplace.
- Get organized: Good organization is essential for staying on track with projects. It’s even more important if you need to share files with your co-workers. So create an organization system for yourself, and if there is a common organization structure among co-workers, follow it!
- Learn to communicate: A couple tips have already touched on communication, but it’s so important that it warrants its own place on the list. In the world of eLearning, clear communication is extra important because our job is to train people so they can improve their work and ultimately improve business for their company. To do our job right, we need to communicate effectively with co-workers, clients, and learners through multiple channels including written, visual and auditory media.
- Aim for great content: Always remember that the content you create is the most important part of your job. It’s your product. It’s what your clients are paying for, and what’s going to keep you in business. So do everything you can to make it awesome.
- Don’t stop learning: The world is always changing; learning is the best way to keep up. You don’t have to take any formal courses (unless you want to!), but reading articles and watching videos related to your field will keep you up-to-date. Some of my favorite people and places are Cathy Moore, eLearning Industry, and Training Magazine.
Keep these eight tips in mind, and you’ll be on the way to success as an eLearning professional!
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