Friday, October 10, 2008

How To Get Started in E-learning- The Big Question

The ASTD Big Question this month is what advice would you give to someone new to the field. Where do you start?

Well, here are some of my ideas:

  • Create a “to-learn list” for yourself. What do you think you need to learn before you can confidently say you’re ready to enter the field as a practitioner? Prioritize the list. Go at it one by one. Trying to do too much at a time can lead to information overload and pretty much ineffective. If possible, get your list whetted by an expert to weed out stuff you don’t really need to know (like maybe the technology behind an LMS or high-end graphic editing) and emphasize the stuff you should know (like which tools should be used for what).

  • Learn to use at least 2 or 3 different tools on your own. Hands-on learning is the best. Use whatever tools you have to create a small module on any topic. Start with describing and storyboarding your design in Word, move on to PowerPoint, and then use trial versions of other rapid-authoring tools like Captivate and Articulate to develop the entire module including screencasts, audio, etc. Use different tools to design and create the same topic. This will help you explore their features and enhance your module as you go along.

  • Create modules for different subjects. It will help you develop a variety of skills.

  • Find resources on the Web. Look for articles, blogs, and videos that can help you with each tool. The Rapid e-learning blog is a good starting point with lots of good ideas and tips.
    Subscribe to bloggers who regularly blog about the items on your “to-learn” list. Contact the ones that inspire you most. Ask them questions, comment on their posts. You can learn a lot from just interacting with the experts.

  • Create a Linked-in profile. You can get in touch with other professionals in the field apart from opening up job opportunities. Several organizations now look at Linked-In for potential recruits.

  • Blog about your experiences. It helps you get things into perspective and invite thoughts and comments from others. Plus it’s a good addition to your online profile.

  • Join an online network or community for e-learning professionals. Share your work with them and get their feedback. It will help you establish your presence and enhance your skills at the same time. You can put up your work on sites like SlideShare and YouTube.

  • Attend online learning workshops and webinars. For example, a good online workshop that’s happening right now is Work Literacy. It has some great resources and activities that can help you develop some neat Web 2.0 skills. You can use these skills to build your network or just get a hang of the tools that you can later use in your courseware development.

There are some good lists out there with more things you can do to become a better e-learning professional. A few I particularly like are:
Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes To Be a More Successful e-learning Professional
Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful E-learning Professional
12 Step Plan to getting started with Social Media

Finally, there’s only one thing that can really help you understand and apply all the theory you may have learned – a real, live project. That is the best way to learn. Get a job that will help you learn and grow at the same time. Easier said than done? Maybe. But, nothing works better than applying yourself to a real-world situation to actually understand how near or far you are from becoming an e-learning professional.


  1. Thanks for the link to my blog post - glad you find my list helpful.

  2. Thanks for the link to my blog post - glad you find my list helpful.