Top Blog Posts of 2018

First off, I cannot believe that it is mid-December already. I know everyone says this, but wowee! 2018 blew by!

I’m always asked for better categorization of my posts, and I really want to do that (honestly, I’ve wanted to overhaul my site for YEARS now), but I haven’t yet perfected cloning technology, found someone that I trust to overhaul the site for me, or discovered a way of increasing the amount of time in a day…I know. Excuses.

In lieu of overhauling the site, I’ve opted to curate a list of my most popular blog posts of 2018, and I’ll attempt to categorize them as much as possible. Enjoy!

Screencasts:

E-Learning/Instructional Design/Freelance Advice:

Portfolio:

Conferences:

Random:

Top 3 Instructional Design Interview Tips

You’ve been hunting for an Instructional Design gig and have finally secured an interview – congratulations! Here are some of my top Instructional Design interview tips – I hope they help, and be sure to comment below if you have any other questions.

Note: I’ve been a panel member on hiring committees for many Instructional Designers throughout my career, so these tips come based on things I’ve learned from interviewing others as well as interviewing for positions myself.

1.Be Able to Talk the Talk (and back it up)

Having a formal background in education (e.g., Bachelor of Education, Masters of Education, or diploma/certificate related to Instructional Design) doesn’t hurt and will definitely provide you with a leg up on other applicants who are without such education, but it’s not necessary. Many Instructional Designers are accidental and have become successful in their roles through on-the-job training. If that’s you’re situation, don’t let that deter you from applying to positions!

The key here, regardless of your education, is to be able to talk the talk, and back it up. What do I mean by that? Most Instructional Design interviews I’ve been a part of ask questions related to learning theories, Instructional Design processes, and instructional strategies. These are things that as an Instructional Designer you will use daily, but likely subconsciously, so before you head into an interview, brush up on things like:

  • Blooms Taxonomy
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Behaviourism/Cognitivism/Constructivism
  • Rapid Prototyping/Storyboarding
  • How you work through Instructional Design projects (step-by-step)

If you’re new to Instructional Design or need to brush up on the theory, check out Essentials of Instructional Design, a 10-module comprehensive course covering the end-to-end process of Instructional Design.

2.Have a Portfolio

I’ve been beating a dead horse for YEARS about the necessity of having a portfolio. Even if you don’t do much in terms of development, you can showcase different elements of your Instructional Design career, such as storyboards, graphics, etc. If you do development, showcase samples of projects you’ve built out. Very few interviewees I’ve encountered have had a prepared portfolio ready to go, and most roles I’ve encountered now request one.

A portfolio will definitely boost your chances of securing a gig, because you’re not just talking about things you’ve done, you’re showing them! You’re providing proof that you’re an exceptional Instructional Designer, and that you’re not just fluffing yourself up.

I won’t drone on about portfolios, but if you want to learn more, check out some of my previous posts:

2.Do Some Research!

This could be research related to Instructional Design or just the organization or institution you’re interviewing at. I’ve been floored by interviewees you can’t answer basic questions (or even muster trying to answer the questions) about the organization/institution or why they want to work for the organization/institution. Coming in for any role unprepared really doesn’t do yourself any favours. Some applicants will be able to answer these questions (to the best of their abilities) and it will make them look more desirable than those who come unprepared.

In terms of Instructional Design, I would recommend also researching some recent studies or industry articles so that you’re familiar with things that are going on in the industry and/or are more familiar with current terminology (especially important if you’re applying for your next Instructional Design role after working within the same role for many years).

E-Learning Advice: Where to Find Work

Outside of “How do I get started?”, the next most populous question I receive is “Where can I find work/jobs/contracts?”, and I’ve written a couple of posts on this in the past:

  1. Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs
  2. Update: Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs

Both of these posts are certainly worth the review though, because I’m going to regurgitate some of the information in this post (and offer some other resources). However, before you can look for work, you need a portfolio of some sort because the potential clients…they’re going to ask you for one!

If you don’t yet have a portfolio, I’ve talked a lot about building them, and even have a free course: Build Your E-Learning Portfolio – check it out! It’s updated periodically, so if you’re enrolled, you’ll get an email blast whenever something’s been added or changed.

Word to the wise: If you want an Instructional Design or E-Learning job, you need to have something to show potential clients you’re capable of doing. So, stop making excuses for your lack of portfolio and just take the time to get something together! When you look prepared, you also look more professional/marketable.

Okay. Enough preaching, Ashley. On with the post!

Referrals

Referrals are still where I find most of my work lately, and I’m still flattered by each and every referral. Once you’ve established yourself within Instructional Design/E-Learning communities, and you begin promoting the work of others while also promoting your own work, the referrals will begin to trickle in. But the key to these referrals is participation within communities, on social media, etc. You need to make yourself known in order for people to know you’re available for work.

And don’t be selfish! Referrals are cyclical, so ensure you’re referring to others when you’re swamped and unable to accept work.

Job Boards

For Instructional Design or E-Learning gigs, I find the most relevant job boards to be:

Outside of these job boards, you can sift through craigslist.org for work, which can yield good results, but is a bit more tedious.

Your Website

Next to referrals, most of my inquiries funnel through this website. This is great, especially if you’re busy working on contracts and don’t have admin time to dedicate to hustling for more contracts. There are a few keys here:

  1. Build a website, and if you don’t know how to do so, hire it out. While an initial cost, it will pay for itself.
  2. Include some sort of portfolio on your website (even if it’s not the most up to date).
  3. Include a contact section. THIS is critical. Prospective clients won’t contact you if they don’t know how to do so.

Social Media

If you’re an Instructional Designer or E-Learning professional (or hope to be one someday), you’re looking for work, and you’re not active on either Twitter or LinkedIn, get on both of those platforms.

A lot of work-related inquiries will happen on both of these social media platforms, but unless you’re active and have a relevant profile, they will not be of much value.

Another ‘social media’ type of community I would recommend is the Instructional Design Sub-Reddit; there’s a lot of great advice in that community, but there are also occasional job postings. Be present on many platforms and you’ll increase your ability to be seen and/or hired.

Bid Sites

Lastly, I will include bid sites. I now consider these sites a last resort, only because I believe there is a lot of effort involved for little pay off. Now, this is where I got my start, but not where I felt the most valued. Of all the bid sites, the one that I would consider most worthwhile, and where I believe you will be compensated fairly (in most cases) is: UpWork.

But even on this site, you’ll need to put in your dues. A lot of employers will specify a percentile of quality that they want in their applicants, and to achieve these quality ratings, you need prior work through the site with employers who may not be offering your goal compensation. Often times you’ll need to work some of these smaller contracts in order to increase your profile clout to succeed in winning larger contracts.

E-Learning Advice: How to Get Started

There are a lot of questions I get about Instructional Design, E-Learning, Development – they’re all over the place, but the questions I get the most are:

  1. How do I get started (in Instructional Design or E-Learning)?
  2. How do I find work?

So I thought I would take some time to discuss each of these questions, starting with “How do I get started?”

There are a lot of ways of answering this question, and I’ve written about my origin story before. However, I’ll give you the short version of my story here:

I didn’t know Instructional Design was a profession, and I studied Psychology and Linguistics in school, hoping to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. A friend I knew worked as an Instructional Designer, referred me to apply at the company for which she worked, and I fell in love with the role. My start was an unconventional start.

Some folks fall into Instructional Design with backgrounds in Human Resources or Training Coordination, some Instructional Designers are former teachers, or have teaching backgrounds, and some take a more direct approach (and those methods certainly don’t encompass all means of becoming an Instructional Designer).

First Things First – Research

Are you even interested in Instructional Design or E-Learning? My first piece of advice is to do your research. There are a ton of places to do this research, but my top two would be:

  1. Talking to someone who is already working within the role, and asking them questions about their day-to-day.
  2. The Instructional Design subreddit – there are tons of helpful nuggets in there.

Other places you might want to look:

Education (Paid)

I would say that the most direct approach would to complete higher education degrees or diplomas within the field of Instructional Design, E-Learning, or Education. While I don’t believe this education is 100% necessary to become an Instructional Designer, it certainly helps. Some great programs are offered through OLC and ATD, and there are many options available at universities and colleges. I did eventually obtain my Masters of Education (Post-Secondary Studies), and it has helped me acquire Instructional Designer roles in higher education. However, for corporate/private sector, I don’t believe such credentials will make or break your chances.

There are also some great MOOCs available that let you get a feel for the principles behind Instructional Design/E-Learning Development:

Education (Free or Low-Cost)

Lynda has a great Become an Instructional Designer learning path, and there are so many great Instructional Design/Education books available: