3 Things Non-eLearning Designers Oughta Know About eLearning

Whether I’m at a conference or work, online or in a classroom, I regularly interact with various types of non-eLearning designers. They might be instructional designers, subject matter experts, or classroom trainers. Regardless of the situation, I often find many of these individuals very curious about what I do as an eLearning designer.

Although I love the curiosity invoked by my profession, more often than not, I also find that many of these folks have very inaccurate ideas about what eLearning is, what eLearning designers do, and what makes good eLearning.

Here are three things non-eLearning designers oughta know about eLearning.

eLearning Designers Do A Lot More Than Just Instructional Design

3 Things Non-eLearning Designers Oughta Know About eLearning Tim Slade

It’s easy for non-eLearning designers to assume that all we do is instructional design for digital content. While instructional design is an essential component of creating an effective eLearning course, as an eLearning designer, there’s a lot more that goes into it all.

A great digital learning experience doesn’t stop with instructional design; it requires visual design, user interface design, audio design, and a lot more. As an eLearning designer, we use a large variety of software applications and platforms to create, build, and implement digital learning content.

Beyond the tools we use to create eLearning content, we’re also masters at stakeholder and project management. We have to go the extra mile to help stakeholders understand (and respect) the complexity of what we do—we have to help them realize that we’re not just playing around in PowerPoint all day.

eLearning Designers Aren’t Trying To Destroy The Classroom

3 Things Non-eLearning Designers Oughta Know About eLearning Tim Slade

Over the last several years, I’ve been asked by non-eLearning designers whether or not eLearning will eventually replace the classroom. Every time I face this question, I find myself perplexed.

As an eLearning designer, I often have to remind myself how “new” the concept of eLearning is to non-eLearning designers. Modern eLearning has only been around for a short period of time as compared to the classroom, which has been around since who-knows-when.

The truth is, we’re not trying to destroy the classroom. Although we’ve found that there’s some content that’s easier, and sometimes more efficient, to deliver via eLearning, the classroom will always exist. In fact, not only are we not trying to destroy the classroom, we’re trying to compliment it.

eLearning is just one component of a larger ecosystem of learning. It’s a fallacy to think that learning is a binary choice between the classroom and the computer. The creation and delivery of learning should be represented and thought about as a spectrum, which includes the classroom, eLearning, job aids, on-the-job training, and much more.

eLearning Designers Work Really Hard To Be Good At What They Do

3 Things Non-eLearning Designers Oughta Know About eLearning Tim Slade

I mentioned earlier how, as eLearning designers, we have to go the extra mile to show non-eLearning designers that we aren’t just playing with PowerPoint all day. Although PowerPoint is one of the many tools we might use to create eLearning content, it’s not about the simplicity or complexity of the tools we use, but rather what we’re able to accomplish with those tools.

As eLearning designers, we work really hard to be good at we do, just as non-eLearning designers work hard to be good at whatever it is that they do. In many ways, great eLearning design is an art. We work hard to make the digital learning experience simple for the learner. This starts with the instructional design, but also extends to the graphics seen on the screen, the audio that comes through the speakers, and the content interacted with by the click of the mouse.

There’s a lot non-eLearning designers don’t know about what we do, and we can all be doing more to help them understand. What are some other things you wish non-eLearning designers knew about eLearning? Share them by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is a speaker, author, and award-winning freelance eLearning designer. Having spent the last decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content, Tim has been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim is a regular speaker at international eLearning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, author of The eLearning Designer’s Handbook and creator of The eLearning Designer's Academy.

2 Responses to “3 Things Non-eLearning Designers Oughta Know About eLearning

  • Amy Cotterill
    7 years ago

    Tim, I design in just about any area you want so I feel pretty comfortable saying that things don’t always translate the way we think they will. One thing I’ve found to be interesting is that elearning really has to be even more succinct than traditional classroom training for a couple of reasons. 1) You’re not there looking at the learners so you can’t do the “quick adjust” based on their response to get them engaged. 2) You don’t get multiple takes to get the learner involved, engaged, and vested in the learning. If you don’t grab their attention in the beginning, you’ve lost them. 3) If you build too much, or too little, you can easily blow your whole lesson.

    • Great comment, Amy! I totally agree with #1! With eLearning, you can’t adapt “on the fly,” like you might in the classroom.

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