From Articulate by Tom Kuhlmann
When I look back at my early work, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long. A lot of the courses I built years ago just weren’t very good. But that’s okay. I may not have built good courses to start, but I did do some things in the early years to build my elearning skills that helped me grow and learn to build better courses over time.
Here are a few of the things I did and what you can do, too.
Build Your E-Learning Skills by Debriefing Your E-Learning Projects
Get in the habit of regularly reviewing your projects. I worked on a team once where every Friday we reviewed what we built or what we were working on. We discussed what was going well, what didn’t, and how we could make improvements. Then we made adjustments and the next projects were a little better.
Remember, if you try hard and don’t succeed, it’s a great learning experience. You’ve discovered one way to not do things.
Build Your E-Learning Skills by Showing Your Work
Show you work and ask for honest feedback. I get a lot of questions about how to get started. I usually recommend participating in the weekly elearning challenges so you have something to work on and show. This lets you built what you want and not be tied down by proprietary content at work. Then ask for feedback on how what you built could be improved.
The weekly challenges are great because no one wants to review a big course. Something small and pointed is apt to generate more feedback for you.
Build Your E-Learning Skills with an Idea Folder
Keep an idea folder that you can review when starting new projects. I routinely look for multimedia examples. You can find a lot at news sites and graphic artist communities. I look for interesting interactions, animations, and visual design.
I also like to deconstruct some of the elearning examples I see and figure out how they did what they did and then noodle on how to build on it. Sometimes when I’m stuck I’ll look through the folder for inspiration.
Build Your E-Learning Skills with an Informal Learning Plan
Develop a personal informal learning process. Today there are all sorts of free resources to learn about course design and construction. The key is to create a way to collect and regularly review that information. Choose a tool like Pinterest, Diigo, or Evernote to collect and organize important content.
Stay engaged in what’s going on and what people are talking about. If possible, start a blog to document what you’re learning and reflect on what others think. In any case, don’t depend on the occasional conference or workshop. Instead, create your own plan and then act on it.
Build Your E-Learning Skills through Practice
Set some time aside to practice new ideas or techniques. Having a folder of inspirational ideas is great. But at some point you have to make some time to practice applying those ideas. You won’t get time to practice while working on a real course, so you need to find time in between.
As you do this, you’ll build the proficiency with your elearning software and you’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Then you can apply the ideas to your real projects later.
Build Your E-Learning Skills by Getting Connected
Get connected. When I started in the industry, getting connected meant going to ATD chapter meetings and subscribing to listservs. Today it’s so much easier with social media services like Twitter and LinkedIn. You can connect with all sorts of experts and learn from each other. I love those who are active participants in the Elearning Heroes Community. They share so many tips and tricks. And it’s been fun to see many of the careers of the community’s active participants take off the past few years.
There’s a lot more you can do to build your skills. The key is having a plan and then moving forward. What are some things you do to build your skills?