If you are just getting started in instructional design, you may be a little confused as to how to get started and refine your skills. Whenever I am asked this question, I generally give two recommendations:

  1. Hire into a large consulting firm
  2. Do pro bono work

I understand that suggestion #1 may be easier said than done, but if you put all your energy into first securing a position with a large firm, then you’ll be able to focus on your craft afterwards.

The large organizations secure elearning development projects for you, which allows you to focus just on your skills and learning new technologies. If you do end up with one of these firms, then you’ll have more work than you can handle, so there really isn’t a need for #2.

If you are trying to make a gradual career transition, or perhaps if you are still in school, then doing pro bono work is a great way to refine your skills. Non-profit organizations are always looking for savvy individuals to volunteer their expertise.

In the beginning you are bound to make some mistakes (and that’s okay). The more practice you get, and the more projects you do, the more refined your skills will become.

To get a general idea of the common elearning development mistakes, have a look at the graphic below created by SHIFT ELearning. It will give you a general idea of what to look out for as you create your courses.

From my experience, many of the items detailed in this graphic represent the mistakes I most often have seen from individuals who are just getting into elearning development. The good news is, all of these are easy to fix – and once you know what to look for, you’ll avoid them altogether.


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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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Nice flowchart image, Justin. Can you provide any related links that connect to consulting firms that freelancers can tap into? Also, any other recommended links or books on Instructional Design that address good design technique/principles, especially for maximizing LearnDash’s capabilities?

Great blog posts! Keep it up.

Avatar Mike

This is an excellent flowchart. It is a roadmap to avoid mistakes

Avatar Damas Mushi

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