34 Replies
David Jordan

I have the same problem as a lot of other people with my work being confidential and subject to trade secrets. 

How do hiring managers feel about portfolios with mock work? for example: If i were to create a module on any subject and make it for "Pseudo Corp. International" or some made up company. A full module on any particular subject for this made up company, maybe several.

Would this be an acceptable portfolio? Would it hold as much weight despite not being made under the pressure of SME restrictions or deadline pressure?

I would think it doest as it is ultimately "easier". 

How understanding are yall as hiring mangers when it comes to the inability to showcase actual work produced?



Linda Lorenzetti

I'm not a hiring manager, but I am involved in hiring interviews.  If the branding/wording was made up for an interaction, but it was a great idea and well executed, I would recommend hiring the applicant.  What it says is less important to me than what they created and how they accomplished it.

Natalia Mueller

I have no problem at all with fake, generic or even Lorem Ipsum content in a demo or sample. I also don't need several full courses. I'm looking for overall design aesthetic, course structure/flow, and interactive elements. I do look for where interaction is included. Is there intentional design or is it just clicky-clicky bling bling. (That's a technical description, obv)

I can't tell by looking at a course what your process was under pressure or how you worked around SME restrictions anyway. Those are things I'd be interested in talking about in the interview though and a great opportunity for you to share some details about your experience.

Steve Flowers

Small bits of work, mockups, and prototypes are fair game in my book. And I don't think it's easier to do something for yourself than it is to do it for someone else. In a lot of ways, it's more difficult to get something done when the time pressure is off.

Being able to talk to the demonstration and enthusiastically sell the reasons for choices made is what makes the difference. Having something to demonstrate is just one more piece of that conversation. Without something to show, the conversation will be missing a critical piece.

The cherry on top, for me, is when someone is able to demonstrate and talk about tooling and process. Bringing something to the table that shows how well an applicant navigates challenges and invents or modifies processes to solve problems is the kind of person I want to work with. So a portfolio isn't just about assembled work product in the traditional sense of "a course". It's about the tools someone brings to bear on challenges they encounter.

Mark Shepherd

One way I am working around the scenario you describe, David, is to make the building prototypes of specific-functionality content that is relatively generic, part of my job, and, by extension, part of my portfolio.

I have about a half-dozen or so working prototypes that do basic, very focused things, and even those simple examples demonstrate that I know how to solve certain, very specific problems, not only from a design standpoint, but also, from an Articulate Storyline-specific execution standpoint.

B Merelle

It is interesting that everyone seems to be focused upon the whiz-bang of the look of a project rather than asking what is the most fundamental question - What were the project's learning objectives?

Thankfully my avatar doesn't show my age, but to let it out of the bag a bit, my first e-learning course was done through email alone. The web was only in its infancy and the interactions of Web 2.0 were little more than wish articles in computer magazines. As instructional designers, we designed instruction, not whiz-bang graphics. First and foremost we focused on the learning objectives for the course we were designing. We recognized that electronic, self-paced correspondence courses (which is so much of our industry's favorite output today) did not work when you want to truly alter behaviors (worker's or student's), and that real behavioral changes came about through the establishment of a mentoring/facilitator interaction between individuals. 

Several years ago I lost count of the number of courses I have designed, but it was over 1500 at that time. When I hire instructional designers today (some like to use other terms such as elearning developers), her/his graphic portfolio is less important to me than her/his ability to explain her/his design within the course to meet the established learning objectives and what learning principles s/he has incorporated within her/his work. If the instructional designer has pretty graphics, but cannot explain the basics of adult learning theory, then s/he is not an instructional designer - s/he is merely a graphic artist. And that is not the same. 


Steve Flowers

Hey B - 

I think you're seeing a focus on show over tell because of the "dev" in the title of the post ;)

"How important is a portfolio when hiring an e-learning dev?"

Certainly a bit different in ways than a course designer. While I agree with you on many points you make above, when we're talking about development, it's a package deal. Being able to talk to the design elements (instructional / performance, technical, visual) will vary depending on the job description. If it's exclusively instructional and performance, the ability to speak to choices in application and process is important. Effectiveness matters. What someone learned from the adventure matters. An approach and how well they interacted with clients, customers, subject matter experts... All of that stuff matters. In the case of an instructional design pro that never cracks a development tool, a visual representation of a portfolio might be helpful but not key. Writing samples, exhibits of work, etc. are still important.

If you're interviewing for a position with more tasks in the development realm, those development artifacts should manifest as a functional representation. I'm not looking for pretty stuff unless it's for a visual design position. Even then, if it's not meaningful and functional -- pretty doesn't matter quite as much in my eyes. Attractive will score some points but it's skin deep. Effectiveness wins. I still want to see the work.