So, what do you do (for a living)?

Feb 27, 2011

Hi all!

As I go through posts and see all of the wonderful work people do, and experimentation to better that work, I got to thinking...what does everyone do?

I am interested to know how many of you have jobs where this type of fun work is truly part of your day to day activities (I want to know what those jobs are, mostly, haha)  and how many of us are trying to squeeze it in between other initiatives.

In my case, I'm constantly trying to squeeze it in to better my skill and perhaps find something that will be compatible with what my company currently uses. I am the online developer for all e-learning, using (primarily) only the following tools (disclaimer: the company is rather green in e-learning technology, and very difficult to sway, so as I've said many times before, I apologize that I cannot yet add Articulate to this list!):

- SkillSoft Dialogue

- Adobe Captitvate

- Adobe PhotoShop (where I have very limited skill)

- Adobe Flash (where I also have very limited skill)

- PowerPoint 2003

- Anything free

Needless to say, being the only developer means I often have to be quick (which has led in the past to very sad courses and content) and that I also don't have a lot of time to research ways to be better while being quick.

I am improving all the time, and getting a glimpse of all the different worlds here in the e-learning community has definitely been both an inspiration and a stepping stone for my abilities and design mentality. It is convincing me more every day to find a way to make this kind of thing a permanent part of my professional learning life.

But with that said, what do you all do?

25 Replies
Randy Borum

I am principally what many eLearning developers might regard as a SME (Subject Matter Expert).  I'm a Professor at University of South Florida in Tampa.  I spend a major part of my time doing research, but I also design, develop, and teach academic courses related to terrorism, intelligence and security.  I use eLearning tools to help create more interesting and engaging learning experiences for my students ... and because I enjoy the creative outlet.  It also allows me to be a bit of a "boundary spanner" between academic content providers and instructional designers. 

Chantelle N

That's great Randy! I hope to have a similar job later in my life - I love teaching but I am only interested in at the college level

I do think it's very good that you have a value for creativity as for college students, it certainly makes a difference (for those who care). I feel there are so many missed opportunities and I am always a presenter's worst critic, feeling that if they have the expertise to present a topic they should also know how to deliver it effectively. Maybe that's just my books talking to me .

I also think I should clarify for others since I wasn't very explicit that although I coined myself as an online "developer", it would be more accurate to say I am the project manager for all online learning. So, more specifically, I am one of those "one person" e-learning departments as a whole.

I look forward to hearing more!

Megan Maguire

Right now I wear many "hats."  Primarily, I act as training manager of a global company.  I develop and facilitate leadership classes as well as a myriad of others.  I help coordinate brining in other types of training as needed (or directing others to programs offered locally).  In the past year I have begun to develop e-learning courses.  I started with topics that relate to our Orientation process and am just starting to step out to "meatier" topics.  It's been fun, but frustrating at times as well since it is not my primary function.

Patrick OGrady


I'm an eL mercenary for hire.

I began developing online course components about 7 years ago to compliment my classroom courses...English of all things!  It wasn't a huge jump, because I've always experimented with using media, especially ppt in my courses.  By default I became the Blackboard and online course "expert" and soon found myself developing complete online courses and eventually working for the online division of a local college.  (when I look back now, those courses must have been brutal for the learners!)

When I discovered Articulate, the meld of my ppt background and the Rapid Development ideas was awesome.  My flash abilities are a complete joke, so I was really drawn to the use of QM as a reinforcement and learner engagement tool.  I've been fortunate to work for some open and progressive learning environments that have allowed that creativity to grow, experiment and fail.  Along the way I've worn every hat in the development process, which I count more as a rich experience than burden.  Although being the PM and sole developer on a project that is three weeks behind it's a great feeling while going through it   But, it eventually led me to realize...I can do this on my own.

The last two years, I've stayed busy with contracts from all three enterprises:  (education, corporate, government).  One of the best experiences I've had was working with a group of "new" developers creating their first course.  They had fantastic ideas, but didn't know how to make them work, process...etc.  In the end we were able to create a great product, they gained HUGE amounts of confidence and clout in their business and I rediscovered how much fun learning and teaching are.

In a more practical aspect I make the time to spend one hour every single day improving my skills.  For me that means one of three things:  reading the blog posts and actually making my own demo too; staying on top of industry trends, changes, tools, etc; experimenting with the tools I have.  I know this seems trite, especially #3 since most of the time that hour produces normally produces a pile, but I've found my confidence and abilities have increased greatly just by investing an hour in myself everyday.

Happy Building.

Chantelle N

@ Megan, I'm glad to see that this is somewhat new for you and that you are excited and hungry to learn more. I can identify with that!

@ Patrick, I loved hearing the transformation and description of the whole road that led you to where you are now. I especially like your anecdote about the new developer group - if only we had more resources (/experiences) like that as budding developers, I can imagine how much more constructive our world would be in the corporate world!

I also think you give some immensely valuable advice in spending time on yourself. I have also found that just putting my head in the sand and really just learning something I want to learn on my own time often gives back to my confidence as well even if I don't come out of the session as an expert.

Great contributions, I would love to get some other stories too!

Jon DeMartino

Hi Chantelle- I, too, am a one-man show when it comes to the creation of e-learning for my group. I work for Iowa's public health lab, as a writer and creator of training modules, mostly for lab staff in hospitals and also for those in public health labs. I've even done a couple for elementary school students. I was a hospital lab technician for many years before taking this job and my background makes it relatively easy for me to grasp the concepts and facts the lab scientists want me to put into the courses. All public health labs, including ours, have a Training Coordinator but I don't think any of them would ever have time to learn the software and to do what I do. Mine is, I believe, a rather unique position in the field of public health. I work with the Training Coordinator here, the Lab Administrators and Lab Scientists and put together e-learning that fits their needs. I do some five-minute Captivate modules that we post on our website so lab techs in hospitals can do them at work and keep up with things they need to know.

This is the best and most enjoyable job I've ever had.  I've loaded the software I use, Captivate, PowerPoint and now, Articulate, on my home pc as well as the one in my office (Kiosk) at the lab, so I can work from home most of the time.  This is great for a night-owl like me who prefers working at odd hours.

Thanks for asking-


Bruce Graham

I may be a one-man band, but I create a great tune

I work for corporates, directly, and sub-contracted, helping companies get the benefits of "one message consumed many times".

I use AP'09 exclusively, and work globally, (currently working for Global company, US company, Belgian company, UK company and doing voiceovers for whoever likes the sound I create!

I came out of the corporate fold - having training/ID/eLearning responsibilities at Oracle, and a couple of Telco companies. Got invited to take an an immediate and active role in a cost-cutting exercise 3+ years ago, and just carried on doing what I had always done.

Loving it :)


Mark Bowden

Hi Chantelle.

I've only been writing rapid e-learning for the past year having been a nightclub owner forever.

I now supply the on-line Personal Licence Course here in the UK directly to customers and to other re-sellers. I am writing more training courses for the alcohol industry for direct sale on-line.

Its taken a while, my design skills were and still are very limited, but the Articulate communities have been and invaluble to me with ideas.

Keep up the good work


Lauren Milstid

Hi Chantelle. Nice to meet you.

I've been in the eLearning industry for about 2 years now, after completing my M.S. in Instructional Technology. I absolutely love my job! Once a course is assigned to me, I develop every aspect of the course. I research the topic, write the script, build ppt. slides and activities, record narration, and package it all in Articulate Presenter.

Since I mainly work independently, I, too, have realized that when needing some inspiration, I look to the eLearning community to gain insight on best practices, tutorials, examples, etc. What would we do without each other?

Best of luck with your initiative to "squeeze in" bettering your skills!


Joe Deegan

Hi Chantelle,

Thanks for posting this question.  It's great to hear the stories.  I got into eLearning back when I was a corporate training facilitator doing lot's of traveling to facilitate face to face classes.  I came to realize that I could reach a lot more people and reduce my workload if I could get this eLearning thing to work out.  I started small by posting a few of what I called interactive power points on the companies intranet. The power points sucked but they definitely helped me see "the light" and realize the potential of eLearning.  After working towards my Masters in Ed Tech and reading lots of blogs, tweets, and books these sucky power points got a lot better and I brought Moodle into the picture so we could track scores and have a better home for what has now become a library of eLearning classes.  I started out just testing eLearning out and it has now become my full time job and career focus.  I am still a one man eLearning band for my organization but I have begun taking on freelance projects on the side and have been loving it.  When I grow up I want to be my own boss developing and consulting on eLearning projects.

Chantelle N

@ John, I really think being an "expert" in the field while also being able to work the magic on the actual delivery is one of the most rewarding experiences. I've always wanted to teach and I think doing what you do simultaneously with e-learning greatly facilitates that! I also can't wait until I get my new computer, and then the extra money to load any and everything I can think of to author, create assets, etc. on it!

@ Bruce, I find your situation interesting since you came (partially) out of the corporate arena. Especially with regard to contracting yourself out, I've been wondering how a person goes about doing such kind of a thing (rather than working directly under a corporation). I would love to simply be that person that people trust to do the magic rather than being "constrained" by what they think they "need" to keep in line with organizational rules!

Which leads me to Lauren - I love the whole pipeline you described to your job and I wish I had that front end part that you do where you get to research the topic as well! One thing I feel less confident about in my job is actually having any idea what they are really trying to teach, and it's harder to get someone else to research their topic well for you (especially when their training is secondary...although I always find it funny how angry they would get if you don't get it done, haha). But I completely agree with you, these kinds of communities and the wonderful people in them are what keep us going!

I'll ask a similar question to those of you who have done work like that independently (like Joe as well) and ask how you got started doing that kind of thing? How did you advertise? What kinds of companies or general clients look for that kind of independent training work? I've always been kind of gray in that area and unsure about how likely it is to just that for a living!

Mark, I think you can add a very unique perspective to all of this being a nightclub owner and the nature of the stuff you are doing. Definitely different than what I'm used to seeing e-learning be used for!

And finally Joe... I really connect with you and how you got inspired to make things better, eventually leading to e-learning. If you couldn't tell or if you haven't read it 10x in various posts already, I would like to be my own boss too...well, or work for one who lets me be my own as well . I can just see us all now, all hooked up to our computers Facebook style, plugging away at our courses, taking over the worl....

Bruce Graham

@ Bruce, I find your situation interesting since you came (partially) out of the corporate arena. Especially with regard to contracting yourself out, I've been wondering how a person goes about doing such kind of a thing (rather than working directly under a corporation). I would love to simply be that person that people trust to do the magic rather than being "constrained" by what they think they "need" to keep in line with organizational rules!

@Chantelle - I was lucky, in that I was approached by a company just over a year ago. They found my details on LinkedIn I believe, where they spotted AP'09 Suite. That has provided me with a great opportunity, and I have been working for them ever since. I have made other contacts throught this forum, via a network of colleagues, and through and, sites that I rate highly.

Do not assume that you are not "constrained" - you still work for corporates, just not within them, (although I always try and act as though I am a member of every company I work for, as adopting the culture assists in the production IMHO).

In some ways it can be more frustrating knowing what CAN be achieved, and having to produce within existing framework.


Chris Fletcher

I create internal eLearning for a translation company, and used to do it for O2 Telefonica Uk prior to that.

I've used Articulate since I started being an eLearning Specialist some time around 2006, but there's always new things to learn. I've taught myself how to use Flash and program AS3 which has helped to build a lot more dynamic eLearning, but I still have a lot to learn and think that sometimes I lack the technical knowledge which really slows me down when I'm trying to be creative.

Recently i feel my elearning has been getting somewhat stale, and I needed a boost to get my enthusiasm back. This forum and the community has really helped to do that, giving me new ideas and approaches to make the learning i create more effective and fun.

Oh, I also use Captivate quite extensivelym, but i have to say I absolutely hate it. I recently trialed Camtasia and found it a much more enjoyable experience. I think Captivate is too big and complex for its own good. It makes cumbersom, clunky learning at best, so i am constantly looking for alternatives. Here's a list of my skills:

Articulate (the whole kit and kaboodle!)

Flash CS4 (Fair knowledge of AS3, and can do some AS2 when I need to - which is quite often when I think about it!)

Captivate (yuck!)

PowerPoint (There's not a lot I can't do with this baby!!)

Photoshop (Well I can do the basics at least!!)

DreamWeaver (comes in handy when I'm building web pages, or editing Articulate XML files!!)

I pick up most things pretty easily too. Blimey, this is starting to sound like a resume!! I'll shut up now!!


Joe Deegan

"I'll ask a similar question to those of you who have done work like that independently (like Joe as well) and ask how you got started doing that kind of thing?"

Being that I have a full time job I really wasn't looking for freelance work but have always found the idea of it intriguing so when it fell into my lap I jumped all over it.  The only advertising I have done is by posting on forums like this and on LinkedIn, writing my blog, and making connections on Twitter.  As my web presence has grew I began receiving inquiries about freelance work and jumped on a few opportunities to make some extra money.  I think one of the best ways to advertise is to post sample courses online and possibly enter them into contests like Articulates guru awards.  Nice connecting with you.

Chantelle N

Chris, I really like that you listed your abilities here. I do the same thing as far as "qualifying" myself with what I really can and cannot do. I am in the process of teaching myself flash, which I'm actually quite proud of some of the basic motion tweens and things I've done to integrate into my courses! In terms of PhotoShop, I enjoyed seeing that someone else is in the same boat as me with that, haha.

But to circle back with Joe, I agree that marketing your samples is a good idea. I've got a personal website (although it's not very good since it was created using basic HTML for a class I did once for my undergrad degree) and it's got a portfolio on it that I am hoping to eventually expand to include some e-Learning courses. Only thing with that is I will either have to get permission from my current employer to post some of my completed work, or find that evil thing "time" again to do my own personal work.

Jim Kitzmiller

I'm coming out of retirement.

My experience includes many years as a computer software consultant.

I consider myself to be a self-help subject matter expert.

So far I've used word processors, text editors, Gliffy, OpenOffice Impress, PowerPoint, Debut Video Capture, and Camtasia to create content. Most recently I've been using Flypaper.

I've used XSitePro, WordPress, YouTube, Payloadz, and WiZiQ webinars to get my work out to the world.

In addition to getting my own work out into the world, I'll be contracting my services to help others do the same.


Linda Lorenzetti

Hi Chantelle!

I've been working as a Graphic Designer at a health & safety association for teachers/healthcare workers & municipal employees for the past 5 years.  I found Articulate because one of our clients didn't like the fact that he had to get up in front of his employees to present one of our safety PowerPoints.  It has become my passion.  I'm constantly reading about learning & presentation methods and would love to create only elearning courses as my full-time job.

Anyone who is just starting to use Articulate and wants to improve their skills should take advantage of the experts and samples that you can connect with here, on Twitter and Screenr.  I like to rebuild courses based on the great samples that I find in this community.  You'll end up learning so much.  Also enter the guru awards and LINGOs.


Heather Wolfe-Hall

Hello Everyone!

I'll second and third the thanks to Chantelle for starting this thread.  It's really great to see the range of experience that we all bring to the community - and the range of roles/responsibiilties we each fill.  Myself, I began my instructional career as a high school teacher, and moved into the corporate training arena 10 years ago - designing classroom training, synchronous online, and self-paced courses.  I am currently working as an Instructional Designer/Multi Media Developer for a global financial software firm, focussing on a breadth of eLearning mediums.  I am the LMS administrator and main client education support as well. 

As many others have mentioned, when working with corporations, we are often "constrained."  As you can imagine, my hands are tied six ways to Sunday between authoring tool specification and brand design requirements, but we still find ways to make our courses fun and effective - even if we are teaching software to bankers! 

We are required to use a FLASH wrapper to deliver our courses to the LMS, and the wrapper only supports Captivate files.  :(   As others have mentioned, it's not the easiest to use for rapid interactive development.  We do find ways around things, using Articulate and other tools to develop the content and delivering only the assessment (which is the only piece the LMS really cares about) in the Captivate/FLASH wrapper. 

Like others above, it seems we all become Jacks of All Trades...soaking up new technologies like a spunge, always eager to try something new or add a new tool to the toolbox. 

Bill McNamara

I realize this was posted a little while back, I loved reading what everyone is doing.  Neat idea!

Personally, I manage training for a state gov't agency....we handle some very specific regulations.  This involves classroom and web-based training.  We tend to work with regulation writers that are the SMEs.  I'd love to spend even more time developing our web-based training.  We first developed our courses about 10 years in the Aspen LMS.  We are now updating them and making them more interactive using Articulate.  We use Moodle as our LMS.  The blogs have been a great help!

Leah Hemeon

I also missed this post the first time round and echo Bill's thoughts. What a neat idea to connect to the community!

I manage eLearning for a natural gas company. I've been doing eLearning for quite awhile but came to this company about a year ago. They were just starting on their journey into eLearning, had an LMS with two courses from vendors. They asked me to come on board to grow the offerings and put processes in place. I have one person working with me and we still use vendors quite a bit. We have been focusing on health and safety training for the most part but will be branching into HR courses soon.

We use both Articulate and Captivate for our courses. I love the Articulate forums. Can't find anything as helpful on the Captivate side.

Sophia Xu

Hi Chantelle and everyone, thanks for starting the post. It's a great way to know each other. I am an instructional designer working for a state agency. I have been in this field almost 2 years. I design both f2f and online training for our internal clients. Our office is pretty open. We are encouraged to be creative and thinking out of the box! We use Articulate and Captive both. Lucky compared to some other offices.

Our group use GeoLearning as our LMS.

Glad to meet everybody.

James Brown

Hi Chantelle,

Currently I'm a software support analyst / corporate trainer /  Firearms Safety Instructor / E-learning developer/relational database guru / web developer. I'm currently trying to break into the field of education technology at a college and or be a technology coordinator / applications instructor for a school district.  My office is pretty small and I'm the only person in our ranks who has formal instructional design / multimedia background which places me in the position of developing new training while also performing all my other jobs. Anyway I've been having a nice time meeting others with my same interests and I enjoy the stimulating conversations that arise in these forums.

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