Instructional designers often have an opportunity to work on a variety of projects, it is part of what makes the profession so compelling.
One project may include new employee courses, another for change management, and another still for leadership training.
As instructional designers we have to quickly come up-to-speed with a variety of technologies, business processes, theories, and organizational cultures. There is never a dull moment.
Each one of these projects is a feather in the cap of an instructional designer. The more projects you work the more equipped you are for the next one. I have seen many in the profession add their experience to their resumes, but not nearly as many create a portfolio oft he work they have done.
There could be a few reasons for this but probably the most obvious is that often these kinds of projects involve sensitive information that cannot be publicly shared. Creating a portfolio doesn’t just mean uploading your projects to a website. You could, but you risk a lawsuit.
You have to take care to remove all company references and sensitive data from the course content. This can take a lot of time. In my opinion it is the main reason people in our field don’t bother with creating a portfolio. After spending countless hours creating the content it seems overwhelming to undo all that work.
It is because of this that instructional designers should focus on having just a few (up to five) examples of their work with each example highlighting a different skill set. You don’t have to rework the entire course – just focus on a small portion.
When you consider what to add to your portfolio, try to include examples that demonstrate:
- Courses relating to software training (great for positioning yourself for higher pay)
- User Interaction points (great for adding a ‘wow’ factor)
- Minimum 3 different ways of presenting course content (great for proving your media expertise)
- Instructor-led training example (great for proving your design diversity)
From my experience these are the most effective examples you can include in your elearning portfolio. These examples clearly show that you are technically savvy, can present content in a variety of ways, know how to generate learner engagement, and aren’t confined to just elearning but can also create live training events.
One final note: make sure you are constantly keeping your examples current. Trends in this industry come and go so you will want to make sure your portfolio doesn’t look “dated”. That can do you more harm than not having a portfolio at all.