Do You Have the Skills to Succeed in the Online Learning Industry?
In this article, I discuss the online learning job market and then provide a detailed description of the knowledge, skills, and qualifications required to succeed in the job market.
A brief overview of the elearning job market
A lot of companies hire people for training/online learning projects; some of the most popular applications are in aviation and transportation, pharmaceutical and health care, finance and insurance, government services, K-12 and higher education, and software tech businesses that provide training to their customers. Besides these industries, medium- to large-sized businesses also hire training specialists for human resources-related employee training and development.
To meet the demand for training employees quickly and effectively during business transitions, specialized online learning services are also on the rise. These businesses offer online learning development services and expertise to other industries and businesses mentioned already. Specialized online training firms employ a team of multidisciplinary professionals. These streamlined services can help their clients roll out training programs faster and generally cost less compared with in-house development.
A look at popular job titles
Instructional designer is the most commonly used title in the field. Still, you will notice other job titles, such as online learning/online class developer, training/education specialist, educational technologist, learning experience designer, or even technical writer. A medium- to large-sized corporation may hire a dedicated resource, an LMS administrator, to manage its learning management system. As I already explained, when it comes to employee development, the job title training/learning and development specialist is used more widely.
The abilities, knowledge, and qualifications you need
A college degree in education is required along with knowledge about learning theories, instructional systems, learning models, and adult learning principles, sometimes referred to as andragogy. The ADDIE model is the most widely used model in the training industry. (ADDIE stands for analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.) When you look for employment in this field, you need to be able to answer questions about various models and principles related to training development.
Besides academic training, an employer would expect an excellent candidate to have a set of skills needed for success in this field. This corresponds to the original part in the ADDIE model, and that’s when storyboarding/scenario creation comes into play. Your job is to transform technical information into professionally written, engaging instruction.
Key tasks may encompass developing learning objectives, effective instructional text, interactions, audio/video scripts, quizzes, and production notes for the subsequent training content development. Microsoft PowerPoint is widely used to write storyboards. Still, it depends on how the training team functions in a specific corporation; you may utilize Word or Excel to write storyboards. Just be prepared to address various options.
No matter how well you explain the creation phase or how detailed your storyboard is written, you need to bring it to the development phase, and that’s when your class will achieve that “wow” factor from your end-users and approval from your clients. Production requires turning that static deck of PowerPoints into something interactive for the users. You need to achieve the learning goals without losing momentum.
If you work in a big training department in which everyone has a clearly defined role, you may not be required to touch the tools used during the development phase; however, most businesses will expect you to have some level of experience in multimedia development.
Graphic editing resources
You will need some graphic editing skills, and that’s where Photoshop editing skills come in handy. If you are hesitant about using Photoshop, you can try Snag-it, a screen capture tool with additional editing features, such as adding callouts, cutting out, blur, or filling in colors. It is a simple tool to learn.
Audio editing resources
Adobe Audition is used more often, but free, open-source software called Audacity is sufficient for online learning development. It’s easy to learn, and you will become functional quickly.
Video editing resources
Same logic as above. Professionals utilize Adobe Premiere Pro, but Camtasia is more than sufficient for online learning development. The most popular features you will utilize are adding callouts, removing noises, and adjusting the video speed.
Online learning development resources
It is hard to say what proficiency you need to reach before getting into the online learning industry. You need to know what features are available and what user interactions can be programmed for course creation. To give you a few examples, a basic drag-and-drop interaction, mouse click and reveal action, or a timeline interaction can be developed quickly using Articulate Storyline. You will need to know these features to utilize them effectively to explain training topics or ideas.
I am more into using Articulate products than Captivate, simply because to achieve the same level of interactivity, Storyline takes less time. It saves your team tons of time for future class maintenance and updates, especially if you utilize PowerPoints as your storyboards. Captivate has its advantages, and the new Virtual Reality feature adds value. The biggest drawback of Captivate is its size because to use it, your device needs to have lots of RAM. If you are blessed to have a device with very large memory, you can, of course, go for it.
Enough talking about class development, let’s move on. For any given class, there will be a few rounds of quality assurance review. I won’t get into this phase because this varies depending on your clients and project timeline. Once your class is complete and approved by the stakeholders, then we will move on to the publishing.
What you need to know about LMSs
For online learning content, you will need a learning management system (LMS) for both class management and user management. Thanks to the growing market of online learning, the market of LMSs has also grown. There are around 500 quality LMS developers from big and costly players like SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone, SABA to smaller and affordable players, such as Absorb, SAP Litmos to free open-source systems, like Moodle.
With the training classes published as SCORM packages using rapid online learning tools, you can bring them to host on the LMS. As mentioned previously, the two essential things you must manage are classes and users. You will work on how to organize classes and which group users to assign to which classes. Quite often, we group a series of classes in curriculum format and then use smart class registration to enroll a group of users in a specific curriculum. Another essential usage of an LMS is tracking and reporting to track completion, ROI, and learning analytics. You can utilize built-in assessment tools, such as quizzes or questionnaires for learners who have completed online classes to gather feedback for future improvement.
You will become an experienced instructional designer after you have completed a couple of online learning projects. If you are willing to take on additional responsibilities, you can progress into leading course development or managing online learning projects. To effectively manage online learning projects, you would need to perfect your project management skills.
The past year has seen rapid development in tech businesses, especially in the software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning industry. All these businesses are willing to hire online learning specialists to come on board for their product training. Knowledge of agile scrum methodology and JIRA tools will give you an advantage when working with software development teams. If you have these computer programming skills and can comprehend software development methodologies, you will stand out in the candidates’ pool, which will eventually land you a position faster or earn you a major payday.
After reading this article, do you think you have the skills to work in the online learning industry? Do you have any additional tips, techniques, or strategies that you would like to share with our readers? If so, leave them in the comment section below.