Finding Your (ELearning) Calling
Entering the elearning industry can sometimes be complicated as you will want to pursue an area that interests you the most. In fact, the entire industry is rather large. There are many different niches you can explore, each one with its own characteristics.
For example, if you are more technically inclined, you may find your calling working with the new Tin Can (Experience) API. This new API is how we understand what learning takes place, and where. It allows us to pull reports on users and to understand how the learning content is being used to improve the business bottom line.
If you enjoy design, then becoming an instructional designer may fit your tastes a bit more. You get to create engaging elearning programs, giving them a dynamic look and feel for your client. A great way to challenge your ability to blend pleasant visuals with effective message communication.
Perhaps you enjoy creating process maps and storyboards. If so, instructional design is also a good choice, but with a focus on program development and maintaining a project schedule. Various development models like ADDIE provide a structured framework for a project’s life-cycle. This role often engages with the client on a more regular basis – and it ultimately could lead to a role in management.
Naturally, these are only three different areas of the industry. You could get into the learning management space, become an LMS administrator, create and sell certification training, and more. But how do you pick?
Experiment First, Specialize Later
When I was first starting in the elearning world, I was very much confused on which direction to take. As such, I made sure to experience bits and pieces of each.
I was fortunate to work for a consulting firm that secured the elearning projects for us. Whenever possible, I advise others to also look for jobs at consulting shops where you can get a great deal of exposure to different projects and technologies.
If you’re not in position to make a career switch (or start your career) in consulting, then you may benefit from becoming a member of a formal elearning organization. Here you can rub-elbows with others in the industry, take courses on a variety of subject, and see which ones speak to you. Doing pro bono work is also a great way to hone your skills.
The most important thing to remember is that your elearning “calling” isn’t meant to be forever. We often make the mistake of believing we cannot try different things. If you need a change and want to shake things up, then do it! You may be surprised at the doors it could open for you down the line.