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:

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