Expand Your eLearning Career by Expanding Your eLearning Toolbox

If I’ve learned anything during my eLearning career, it’s that there’s always more to learn. Being a talented and marketable eLearning designer doesn’t stop at being proficient with a particular authoring tool. That’s why my “eLearning toolbox” is full of a variety of gadgets that I use together to author content—all of which have helped me to elevate my eLearning career.

If you’re new to eLearning or simply looking to enhance your value to internal or external customers, here are some suggestions about what to include in your “eLearning toolbox.”

Graphic Design Programs

eLearning career

Because eLearning is a form of visual communications, graphics play a significant role in its effectiveness. Although most of today’s popular eLearning authoring tools offer a wide variety of graphic design functions, it can benefit you to expand your reach with other tools.

Often, clients will use vector graphics or photos that have been created by their marketing department. These may include logos, branding materials, and other proprietary graphics created in a professional graphic design program. Your ability to receive and edit these graphics will save your customers time and allow you to tailor these graphics for your particular project.

Tools to consider include:

Audio Recording & Editing Programs

eLearning career

The most effective eLearning courses use a variety of multimedia elements to communicate the learning content. Besides graphics, audio narration is perhaps the next most common type of media used. Whether you’re receiving the audio from a professional narrator or recording it yourself, it can save you (and your customers) a lot of extra time if you’re able to record, edit, and enhance your own audio files.

Most eLearning authoring tools let you perform simple tasks like recording and cropping your audio. However, these features often aren’t enough when you want to enhance your audio and make it sound better (for example, noise reduction).

Tools to consider include:

eLearning Authoring Programs

eLearning career

This one may come as a bit of surprise, as you may already be proficient with one or more eLearning authoring tools. However, I suggest learning more than one tool because you never know when you’ll be asked to use an authoring tool outside of your current skillset.

If you are an eLearning freelancer, knowing more tools can mean getting more clients. For internal practitioners, it can mean staying relevant in case your organization (or your job search) shifts focus. For both groups, it means you can always use the right tool for the job, rather than just use the tool you know. This is not to say you have to be an expert in every tool, but it’s good to have a minimum proficiency in a variety of the more popular eLearning authoring tools available on the market.

When determining what additional tools to consider, take a look at what’s in demand. What other tools are your customers (or competition) using? What tools would be the quickest for you to learn? For example, if you’re a heavy Articulate Studio user, perhaps it makes sense for you to explore Articulate Storyline.

On the other hand, you can also consider exploring specialized eLearning authoring tools. For example with Camtasia or Replay, you can create eLearning content based on screen-recordings.

At the end of the day, learning any new tool can be a significant financial and time investment. However, if you’re smart about what tools you choose to add to your eLearning toolbox, this investment can quickly pay for itself and help you expand your eLearning career. Whether you’re working with internal or external clients, you’ll provide more value—and have more job security—if you can become a one-stop shop.

What other tools or programs have you put in your eLearning toolbox that has helped you expand your eLearning career? Share them by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Hi, I’m Tim Slade, and I’m a speaker, author, and award-winning eLearning designer. I’ve spent nearly a decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content. I’ve been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for my creative and innovative design aesthetics. I also speak regularly at national eLearning conferences, and I’m a recognized Articulate Super Hero and co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

4 Responses to “Expand Your eLearning Career by Expanding Your eLearning Toolbox

  • Adobe Captivate!

  • Nice article and an important message for folks in our profession, as I do find that many, if not the majority, seem to stick to a single cookie-cutter approach/tool, and any deviation becomes a problem.

    The other commenter mentioned Captivate, which is my tool of choice (primarily since Storyline is not a viable mobile solution). I would also highly recommend just basic web development skills such as:

    a. HTML
    b. CSS
    c. FTP
    d. Basic database admin (create a simple db, be able to read, write, and update records)

    I have taken on a number of freelance contracts on the side over the years, many being very large $ contracts, where the competitive bids are usually never from instructional designers or e-learning agencies but from web development shops/agencies. And they’re sharp – you mention “Storyline” or “Captivate” (and there’s no way around it – they will educate the client to demand knowing the technology stack being used) and those competitors will immediately put in the clients ear the need for “responsive” etc. Typical e-learning designer/dev will not get far, at least not at the good contract rates, unless they have at least basic web dev skills.

    Just my 2 cents.

    mark
    http://www.elearninglive.com

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark! It always depends. Personally, I’ve had great success freelancing without any coding knowledge whatsoever…and only using Storyline as a development tool. It depends on the types of clients you’re trying to attract. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

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