Recently we hosted a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) event with Tom Kuhlmann, author of the Rapid E-Learning Blog. We’ve been curating his best advice in a three-part post. You can find part one here. And now, here’s part two!

Stephanie Schneider: If you could narrow being a successful instructional designer down to one factor, what would it be?

Tom Kuhlmann: Knowing how to distill content into meaningful learning, and making it look good. We may talk a lot about instructional design, but the person who gets the job is the one who makes things look good.

I think a lot of training people are good at packaging information. But learning is more than information. A good instructional designer knows how to craft a learning experience. I like the 3C model as a simple reminder: challenge, choice, and consequence. Challenge the learner’s understanding, give them choices, and the choices produce consequences.

Kurt Abe: Are there best practices for the length of e-learning?

Tom Kuhlmann: I think that small, bite-sized modules are trending. They’re easy to consume. I like to call them “coursels,” as in course morsels. With that the focus is on practical, just-in-time content. I think mobile will really drive that forward.

Ina Whitehead: I have just graduated from an ID program and I am interviewing for positions. I have a school portfolio, but are there specific types of samples you look for in a portfolio?

Tom Kuhlmann: Don’t show long courses. No one wants to look at those. Create a bunch of mini modules that focus on specific things: drag & drop interactions, interactive video, etc. 

The weekly challenges are great for portfolio fodder. Find six that you like and build out nice-looking mini modules. Do a search for some portfolio sites and see how people position themselves visually. You want a polished/pro look that says you’re experienced and capable.

Another thought: school projects tend to look like school projects. They also tell the person interviewing that you’re a student, which may introduce the bias that you don’t have enough experience.

Paula Brandon: Hi Tom - What’s the best way for e-learning designers to find work and build their portfolios?

Tom Kuhlmann: I mentioned above: get connected, show your work, and share. Again, I’ll plug the weekly challenges and how some of the participants leverage those.

It’s a great way to connect with others and solicit/offer feedback. It also lets you show what you can do and potential customers see that. Additionally, you can always add those to your portfolio.

Some of the participants do their own blog posts on what they did. That’s a great way to demonstrate your skills and get exposure.

I mentioned this on one of the other questions: I created a two-column list page. In one column I listed all of the skills job postings listed and in the other I matched to my skills/experience. Where I was lacking I pursued opportunities to build them. A lot of that came from volunteering and doing free projects.

We hope you enjoyed this second recap. Stay tuned for the final part in this series. You can always head on over to the discussion to have a closer look at all of the questions and answers.

If you have feedback or questions, we’d love to hear them in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest e-learning advice, tips, and tricks!

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