How To Develop Your eLearning Expertise
Becoming an expert in anything takes a long time, with some research suggesting it can take 10,000 hours to reach expert level! While a precise timeframe is often debated, becoming an expert does require some effort and doing more than just the minimum. So where do you start? Here are 6 activities to develop your eLearning expertise.
When you think of someone who is good at what they do, there’s a good chance this has happened because they’ve practised. While you’ll improve your skills through doing your job, the type of practice I’m talking about is deliberate where you make time to experiment and try new ideas to develop your skills. It’ll involve making mistakes and things may not always go to plan (don’t worry it’s all part of learning), but it’s a good opportunity to find new methods or ways of doing things that you can then apply when developing eLearning for clients.
Practice can involve using your authoring tool, trying new design and layout ideas, writing or a combination of all these things. You’ll also be working outside of your usual constraints so you can be really creative!
2. Read Widely
Creating eLearning brings together several disciplines –learning theory, using an authoring tool and other software, visual design, graphic design, accessibility, writing, Instructional Design, user experience, working with stakeholders, project management– so it’s important to find out more about these areas.
Here’s some books to get you started:
- eLearning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer
- Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen
- The Accidental Instructional Designer by Cammy Bean
- Visual Design Solutions by Connie Malamed
If you like reading blogs, here’s some helpful ones:
- Rapid eLearning blog by Tom Kuhlmann
- Cathy Moore blog
- Ask. Learn. Share by Mike Taylor
- Will at Work Learning by Will Thalheimer
3. Look At Examples
In cognitive theory, learning can be improved by studying ‘worked examples’ or in this case completed modules or even samples of interactions. If you begin at the end and work backwards you’re not blindly trying to figure out how to create something. Blogs and YouTube videos that explain the steps or process are beneficial too.
However, the reality is that there’s not a lot of places where you can see eLearning examples openly. The place I go to see demos and samples is Articulate’s E-Learning Heroes community, especially the Downloads hub.
If you know of other places, please share in the comments section below.
4. Connect With Others In The Field
You can learn a lot from the experience of others and while conferences are good places to connect with other eLearning people social media makes it possible to connect with a diverse range of folks locally and from around the world. There’s lots of ways to do this – LinkedIn groups, Meetups, Twitter, Communities e.g. E-Learning Heroes and even this website!
The eLearning field is huge and there’s lots of folks out there who are willing to share advice, tips, research findings and lessons they’ve learning with the wider community.
5. Show Your Work
You may not feel comfortable doing this straight away and that’s ok. Showing your work to others doesn’t mean that you need to create a website to share what you’re working on (you could, though). Start by sharing your practice activities, samples, and discoveries with colleagues, family or friends. You can also show your work on social media e.g. write a LinkedIn article, share a link via a tweet or post a photo on a Pinterest board.
Jane Bozarth wrote a terrific book called ‘Show Your Work’ that has many examples of people showing not only what they did but also how they did it. by sharing and being more open with what you’re working on or what you’ve done you could potentially help someone else in the eLearning field.
Whether you try one or all the above activities, take the time to reflect on what it is that you’ve learned and how you can incorporate these new skills and knowledge into your day-to-day work. Reflection is a powerful way embed what you are learning into your everyday practice.
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to developing expertise in anything, it’s an ongoing process that takes time and dedication. If you commit to continual learning and growth your eLearning expertise will steadily grow.
If you have other ideas on how to develop your eLearning expertise, please add to the comments below.