Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How it All Began

Since I intend this blog to be on my experience with e-learning, let me start from the beginning. How did I get into e-learning?

It was the June of 2002 when I passed out of college. It was also the period of an IT slowdown- the dotcom bubble had burst and there were not many jobs for fresh out-of-college kids like me.

I wanted a job in the high-flying software industry, but nothing was quite working out. And the only ones that seemed available were the call-center ones and the marketing executive ones. In one, I’d have to answer calls from mostly irate customers all night and in the other I’d have to sell things even I wouldn’t buy. I decided both were not for me and so continued waiting for my dream job to come along.

Then one day, I came to know about an e-learning company that was looking for Technical Writers. I was excited. I wasn't completely sure what e-learning was but it seemed like a perfect stop-gap arrangement (I was still dreaming of a software developer job). I'd always loved writing (I’d be at the top of my English class almost throughout school...in fact, my English teacher wanted me to take up writing as a career, but that was never seriously considered.) And here was an opportunity that looked like it would also involve some technical know-how. It seemed to be the perfect combination.

I went for the test and interview and was offered the job the same day. I joined the next day. Turned out that the term “technical writer” was not entirely accurate. I was more of an Instructional writer, writing storyboards for software and other IT-training courses. That, to me, was even better! I could work with different, new software all the time!

As I started learning and understanding what e-learning and instructional design was all about, I felt I’d found what I’d been looking for. I’d found something that appealed to several different sides of me, the writer, the thinker, the techie…it was no longer a stop-gap arrangement.

The best part was that I was there at the right time working with the right people. I got to learn a lot and fast. My interest drove me to learn more and consequently achieve more at work. I didn’t have much of the theoretical knowledge (Maybe I still don’t). Although, I did go through some formal training at work, most of what I know has been picked up on the job. I frequently found that the ID practices I’d been using had their basis in some theories I didn’t know about. And I believe to some extent that is the best way to learn. Unless you know to apply them, theories hold little value. And that is true for whatever you want to learn, whatever you want to teach.

Now, I’ve spent close to 5 years in this field and have moved to projects other than IT and with that has come the other revelation, it it not so much about IT anymore...it is about writing, about learning, about ID... it is all about e-learning.