How to Get Involved in eLearning Design

Dr. Benjamin Washington
Dr. Benjamin Washington
High school assistant principal; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
Someone holding a tablet with ‘e-learning’ on the screen.

Education is a field that provides opportunities for students to learn in multiple ways. Additionally, for educators there are multiple ways for teachers and educational content developers to create learning platforms, deliver instruction, and facilitate the teaching and learning process. eLearning utilizes technology to deliver educational content, curriculum, and interactive tools to engage students. Getting involved in the eLearning design process can come in many forms. Although there is no set way an eLearning designer gains experience there are a few commonalities when it comes to a career pathway in eLearning and instructional design. While some instructional designers come from education and focus only on creating educational content, others may be those who have a background in training and development. In order to understand how to get involved in the eLearning design process, it is important to know what eLearning design encompasses and what are the main components to effective educational learning design.

What Does Modern eLearning Design Encompass?

For the modern student, education can come in the form of traditional design with brick and mortar schools or also through online instruction. As many students and parents saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, schools districts and other educational institutions had a blend of both traditional and online learning. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are an effective way to deliver content to students and teachers. Traditional learning design in K-12 schools involves facilitating curriculum and instruction through the use of textbooks, professional development on teaching strategies, literacy development and interdisciplinary curriculum design. Students are taught face to face, but also have access to online resources through Schoology, Google Classroom, and Canvas.

In higher education, content delivery comes from platforms such as Blackboard and Moodle. Whether it is K-12 or higher education, in the traditional format there is teaching and learning in a face to face environment and is enhanced by technology. With eLearning, online instruction is the primary source of content delivery, instructional strategies, and assessment. These various learning management systems are designed to deliver  instructional content that is specific to their audience and the needs of the students. An understanding of curriculum, instruction, and assessment will benefit the content developer in the eLearning design process. It is important to remember that eLearning encompasses instruction, but also managing content for training and professional development.  For prospective instructional designers and curriculum developers it is important to know where to begin. It is vital to know how to begin a professional and practical way to engage students and trainees in an online platform. Modern eLearning designers have a variety of ways to connect with their students. Knowing where to start and what resources are available for an eLearning designer will help in the decision making process.

How to Get Involved in eLearning Design

For potential eLearning designers and instructional designers there are different ways to begin a career path. One way is to obtain a degree or certificate specifically for instructional design, educational technology, or online learning. Examples of degrees that are obtainable are a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction or M.Ed in Educational Technology or M.Ed. Instructional Technology. If obtaining a doctorate degree is a goal then an Ed.D. in Educational Technology will provide the necessary skills and knowledge to make an impact in the area of instructional design. Those who want to be an effective content developer often choose to go into degree programs that enhance their skills in online instruction, technology in education, and how to facilitate learning in multiple environments.

Graduates of these programs become instructional leaders and technology advocates in school districts, businesses, and higher education. Furthermore, there are resources for those interested in getting involved in eLearning design. This includes informational blogs, websites that share knowledge on curriculum development, and also professional associations like the International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE). Whether you want to expand your expertise in the field of education or be a resource for training and professional development, becoming a eLearning designer is a career pathway that will allow for you to engage students and help others grow and develop.

Knowing if instructional design is right for you comes from understanding the process of content development, the audience who you want to contribute to and your overall goals and expectations for personal development. eLearning helps enhance the education experience of others and provides a platform to engage users, deliver instructional content via distance learning, and a network of multiple resources. When it comes to instructional designing, this can be either an enhancer to your career or the main source of how you help others learn and grow. It is important to realize the balance of traditional learning and eLearning can benefit the student or trainee if the designer uses proper resources, showcases knowledge for the user, and sets obtainable goals for the content users. Getting involved in eLearning can be a rewarding experience that creates opportunities for both the designer and the user as well. As education continues to grow and develop, so do the ways students and teachers interact with each other, share knowledge, and implement best practices.

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