Anyone using E-learning / Instructional design to travel and work remotely?

Jan 02, 2017

This may be more of a lifestyle questions, but I'm curious how many people in the field are working remotely and/or how many create a lifestyle of travel and location flexibility because of the potential for a non b&m office setting. I'm an ESL coordinator for a school district and separately an online ESL instructor to kids in China. I would eventually like to quit my day job and live and work remote - teaching online and designing E-courses. I've never had a face to face conversation with an instructional designer so I figured I'd ask for your feedback. Oh and I am currently enrolled in a program for Instructional design / E- through my local University (waste of my time?) Any feedback  would be greatly appreciated!


24 Replies
Jeff Kortenbosch

Hey Andrew, I'm dong most of my work remotely. I work in a global role so I'm in contact with colleagues all over the globe. Whether I'm at home, in one of our offices or anywhere with wifi I'm always good to go! I love the flexibility and productivity boost it gives me but have to agree with Ashley, I tend to hop into the office at least once a week to meet some people.  

Jackie Van Nice

I have only worked remotely since starting my business in 2003. Having the option to work from anywhere in the world was always an attraction and the flexibility does come in handy.

However these days I find I do most work from home (or fly to client sites now and then), and use vacations for travel-travel as opposed to work-travel. As much as I love my work, I'm not going to take a project with me on vacation to Germany. Their beer deserves my full attention.

eLearning Development

I have done a bit of contract work remotely from home and find it quite enjoyable as a different approach.  My employer was a college in the US and I was working in Canada.  I found it amazing that things could work so smoothly remotely.  A lot had to do with a wonderful project supervisor that managed our group very well.

Enes Karahasanovic

It is all dependent on few factors. The biggest challenge for me to work from home is to deal with my 2years old daughter and work effectively at the same time, because every now and then I would have to play hide & seek, prepare breakfast or just change diapers.

If you don't have these challenges, than it comes down just to your personality.

Nancy Woinoski

I have worked remotely for the past 10 years. I mostly work out of my home-base in Toronto but do like to travel and will work from these remote locations on occasion. The initial plan was to do this more often but now I'm finding I prefer to work out of my home-base because I have a great internet connection and everything I need to be productive. So I will work long hours for a few months straight and then take a travel break. I also agree with Phil that working remotely can be very isolating and is not for everyone.

Andrew Hudson

Very interesting Nancy. I look at places  like Medellin Colombia, places with a budding entrepreneurial spirit with many freelancers and remote workers. Seems there would be ways to meet people and create a friendship base, or work in co-working spaces. I guess I've been in the same spot for a few years and feel ready to slow-travel. Sometimes a week or weekend somewhere doesn't scratch the itch for me.  Would be cool to bounce back and forth between two places at least. Maybe have a couple go-to locations/home bases. Thanks for your input. I also imagine Toronto is a pretty cool place to call a home base anyway!

Nancy Woinoski

Today Toronto is a freezing place to call home :)   Your plan sounds pretty cool. If I were in your shoes I would focus on building my business first - get some experience in the field under my built and line up a few regular clients who don't really care where you reside - then you can move your base anywhere there is a reliable internet connection. 

Dianne  Hope

I've been working from home as a freelancer for more than 18 months now. I love the fact that I control how much work I do and when I do it. I tend to work crazy hours on projects intermittently, then purposely (or sometimes not) take a break. 

There are lots of positives - although it can be very isolating and as I run my own business, I still feel slightly guilty if I'm not in front of my computer creating awesome e-Learning for clients, or building or promoting my business.

With plans to live abroad in 2018 for a few months, I initially thought I would take my work with me, but as Jackie has pointed out above, I think it's wise to separate holidays from work - so this won't be happening now (the working abroad I mean, not the trip!). I think the hardest thing for me has been to balance this - but I do focus on celebrating achievements, like the end of a massive project - and rewarding myself with a little bit of time off to focus on things other than my business.

I find I can concentrate and produce better work from my own office at home and without the need to allow time for travel, have more time to either work, or enjoy life.

Yes, Skype and Dropbox are essential tools as most of my clients are located o/s - although I'm still trying to convince one local client that Dropbox is OK to use - they still insist I rock up with a USB to collect and deliver files...

Doug Keevers

Hi Andrew

I can appreciate your thoughts.  I currently work teaching in higher ed online and do course development online.  While I like working at home, in online learning we often speak about the concept of Social Presence.  While working at home provides for a lot of flexibility it is void of interactivity to an extent with others.  From a professional experience perspective, yes you can do design work remotely, many do but its also nice to work with and around others.  Its really a personal choice working remotely or on-premise.  Hope this helps somewhat LOL.

Sam Zimmer

Hi Andrew, 
I am currently living abroad and working remotely. I am completing an ID Master's online and do an array of editing/proofing/research freelance projects while I transition into elearning. In the past I have supplemented my online work with in-person ESL teaching, though I've just moved to my first location where I am 100% online. 

While I haven't lived in digital nomad hubs (where I imagine things might be a bit easier). I've found it absolutely crucial to make a big effort in reaching out to local social networks. Whether it is a class, volunteering, poking around to find other people you can co-work with, it makes a big difference. I've also found that the time difference poses a bit of a challenge as it can be easy to be offline during my client's entire workday. I have read online about a cohort of digital nomads who adopt a semi-nocturnal lifestyle so that their workday has significant overlap with their clients. 

I'd say that overall while there are certainly challenges, and the demands on self-discipline are very real, that if you have a passion for travel and exploration it is a great option with a lot of opportunity. I think that this sort of set up will continue to become more common. Hope this is helpful and best of luck with your studies!

Jenny McNiven

I am also looking to start working remotely soon since my family is going to be going through a big transition as my husband separates from the military and we make a big move somewhere with more career potential for me. I would love to live somewhere where I have the option to work in a real location, but can also fall back on remote freelance work if I can't get the kind of job I need to help support us through this time. Would be interested to know what location everyone would go to, if they could, for more opportunities in ID! 

Dana Smalley

I am currently working on a volunteer remote ID project to gain more experience and transition out of my current career as an administrative assistant.  I've worked in a central office environment in the public schools system for many years. Now I'm more than ready to start the process of working remotely because it allows me to have a more flexible schedule and an opportunity to travel. 

Dave Ferguson


In my experience the option to regularly work onsite means an area with a base of employers who already use the kind of skills you have to offer. When I was independent for a dozen years, I lived outside Washington DC. Mostly I worked as a sub- (or sub-sub-) contractor on federal agency projects, designing and developing various interventions [meaning, not just online learning]; it's a tough market to crack as an individual.

So: an industry center, an academic center, a public-sector center are good bets. That doesn't necessarily mean huge. I live in Victoria, BC; the metro population is around 370,000, but it's the provincial capital and has three universities.

As you're building your reputation, all things being equal, if you can relate your past business knowledge to the potential client's, that's highly useful.

This discussion is closed. You can start a new discussion or contact Articulate Support.