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I’m new to eLearning – Where do I start? November 18, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I held a Breakfast Byte session at DevLearn for people new to the eLearning field. Here are some miscellaneous tips and tricks I provided during this session to help get people started off on the right foot:

  • Know that the term “eLearning” has an ambiguous definition. Personally, I consider eLearning to be the intersection of learning and technology, where we help people do their jobs more effectively and more efficiently. But you’ll probably hear at least 25 other definitions floating around out on the web. 🙂
  • The best thing you can do at conferences (like DevLearn) is meet people and exchange contact information. Make an effort to meet experts and meet newbies. Stay in touch with these people after the conference. Learn about them and learn from them.
  • Don’t be intimidated. There are hundreds of other people that are brand new to eLearning.
  • Assemble a list of eLearning blogs. Read them often. Just ask around for suggestions. Get set up with an RSS reader, like Google Reader, and begin to read blogs on a regular basis. Our field has an incredibly active blogging community, which can also serve as a support group for you (see the next tip).
  • Start a blog about your eLearning adventures. Use blogger.com or wordpress.com to sign up for a free blog. Write blog posts on a daily or weekly basis. Talk about the successes (and roadblocks) you encounter. Trust me, you’ll see the value after a few short weeks. Blogging helps in several ways: First, it helps you reflect on your experiences and organize your thoughts. Second, you are putting your thoughts on display for other professionals to see (and they will chime in to give you feedback).
  • Become familiar with the eLearning Guild’s Research reports. You can find these on eLearningGuild.com. They are fantastic. Skim them to find what you need; you don’t need to read them in detail.
  • Always try eLearning tools before purchasing them. This applies to authoring tools, simulation tools, Learning Management Systems (LMSs), etc. Don’t be pressured into buying something unless you want it.
  • You can take several different paths in the world of eLearning. The main paths that stand out to me are: Media, Writing, and Programming. Select the path you prefer, and then surround yourself with individuals that offer the skills you do not have.
  • Contact me. I will do my best to give you a hand! (Just leave a comment below.)

Helpful web sites and blogs:

Good luck!


1. Matt - November 18, 2008

great post, I will share this with my organization

2. Joe Deegan - November 19, 2008

Great points, especially trying the eLearning tool before buying. It’s amazing how much you can learn by making mistakes with a tool before purchasing.

Another point I would add is to start small. Start out with a project where it is okay if it doesn’t go well and doesn’t affect a large group of people. I was new to eLearning about 2 years ago and learned alot from the mistakes made in small pilot tests. Once I was sure that everything was working as planned then I had the confidence to take on larger scale projects. If you start with a big project and fail, then there will be a lot more resistance from the organization on future eLearning projects.

3. Brian S Friedlander - November 19, 2008

Great points- I teach graduate courses in assistive technology and use Blackboard extensively to deliver my course content. I teach hybrid courses and rely on both traditional classroom teaching and have digital assets on Blackboard. Over the years i have become more interested in eLearning and have begun to delve into this area more and more. This is the future for professional development from my perspective. I blog on this and more at http://assistivetek.blogspot.com

Brian S Friedlander

4. Gareth Murran - November 20, 2008

[…] I’m new to eLearning – Where do I start? « eLearning Weekly (tags: e-learning) Share and Enjoy: […]

5. Kenton White - November 27, 2008

Wanted to chime in on the try-before-you buy. I think that is absolutely necessary and pretty much de-rigeur in other areas. I honestly can’t imagine how a vendor can offer a tool for sale without having a demo available. Or better yet a time limited, full feature trial period. And by buying from organizations that let you trial first, you are supporting forward looking vendors and (hopefully) the old dinosaurs will die off.

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