How did you get started in e-learning?

Jul 26, 2015

Hi friends,

I'm entering my 2nd year of grad school at UMBC for a masters in instructional design for distance education after 15 years of being a video producer in Washington, DC.  I'd love to hear your story of how you got started in e-learning?  Also, do you think game based learning with interactive video will be of value or popular in the future?  I'm looking for tips and inspiration.



P.S - My portfolio is at

34 Replies
Mike Bray

Hi Doug,

I was just cutting my chops in computer technology back in the early 90s -- working at an environmental cleanup firm and (though I didn't know what it was called) I was building predictive models for hydrocarbon scrubbing in, of all things, Lotus 1-2-3. I had just learned the fundamentals of building custom functions and macros and making them do cool things. One evening I was discussing these revelations with a friend who worked in the training department at a nearby refinery. She was trying to sell the concept of Computer Based Training to the refinery leaders. She asked me if I could help her build a proof of concept that she could sell to the muckety-mucks and one thing lead to another.

Twenty-five years later, I've bumbled into and out of various roles in training, ID, eLearning development, systems analysis, data management (and other IT-related roles) but always with a focus on interactivity, effectiveness and adherence to sound ID philosophy, process improvement, and "what's next". It's a fantastic and rewarding industry (and community) to be a part of.

Kevin Thorn

Hey Doug,

Always love hearing how others fell into this industry. Like Nicole said, it's always great to re-kindle this conversation. These are great stories! 

Like most, I fell into this industry on a whim. I was working in an IT department when the Training Manager approached me for a position. With no formal education he figured my operations experience, IT experience and creativeness, I'd be able to help him with his vision: convert a bookshelf of 3-ring binders to "an online learning website". Over the course of the next 15 years we implemented the companies first LMS and produced several hundred courses. I started freelancing in late 2010 and by early 2012 I decided to quit corporate life and start my gig as an independent contractor.

Hard work, sacrifice, and a desire to create is the recipe. From the look of your portfolio you're on the right path!

As for game-based learning, it's been on an upward trend for a few years and believe it will continue. And interactive video is gaining more popularity from last year and also believe that medium will continue to trend. 

Mashing the two together as "game-based interactive video learning." Now there's an interesting concept!




Carolina Fautsch

Video producer experience will help you quite a bit! I started off as an e-Learning Scriptwriter, so I've done a lot of script supervision and production assistant work in the e-Learning context. 

I'm not sure how popular interactive video is specifically. I've worked on three huge interactive video projects myself, but that was for the military. However, if you have a sense for how to tell a story visually, that's an advantage. Huge projects like simulations are hard to come by, but smaller modules that incorporate elements of game, video and scenario seem highly prized.


Carolina Fautsch

Can't think of one with all three off the top of my head, but here are some good examples of each:

For games, there the zombie survival game The Remaining.

For video, there is the famous Broken Coworker, which is as good as its reputation suggests.

For complex scenarios, there is The Professionalism Game, which features realistic and sensitively written storylines. 

You can find more in the Articulate Community showcase. 

David Tait

Hi Doug,

I studied Newspaper, Magazine and Infographic design, graduating in 2000. At the end of the course our lecturer left teaching to start up an eLearning development company that would specialise in online CPD for doctors.

I was one of a small number of students from the college that were offered jobs at the new company.

I worked for this company until late 2007 when they were taken over by a larger eLearning development firm in London. I stayed with the new company until 2009 when I left and co-founded 4pt Limited.

There are a good few of the original employees from all those years ago that are still working in the industry (several probably on these forums). I consider myself very fortunate to have enjoyed most of my career in eLearning.

David Tait

Hi Doug,

It's been really good so far. There is a lot of hard work and some pretty long hours at times but I wouldn't swap it.

When I worked for someone else I really cared about what I was doing and always gave my all but during the evenings and weekends I was able to switch off. Now that I work for myself the effort I put in remains but it's a lot harder to switch off in my spare time!

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