What's in your tool belt?

Feb 04, 2015

Specifically what technical skills do you have in your tool belt?

 I have a professional background in Information Technology and recently acquired my Master's in Instructional Design. The Master's helped me out with Learning Theory and Models, but it didn't offer much opportunity to develop my technical skills to share in a portfolio.  I recently decided to start adding more technical skills to my belt.  Currently I doing refresher courses on HTML/CSS, and may attempt a few others.  I want a portfolio that is attractive to companies.   

I want to make a career change and move into the elearning field.  What technical skills would you prioritize?

  • Coding (HTML. CSS, javascript, php, etc.
  • video editing (software of choice)
  • graphic design (software of choice)
  • voice/sound recording (software of choice)
  • animation (software of choice)
  • rapid-learning software (Storyline, Captivate, etc.)
  • Screencasting (software of choice)
  • Presentation Design (software of choice)
  • LMS/CMS (Software of Choice)
6 Replies
Alexandros Anoyatis

It may sound like the easy way out of an answer, but to me it's "All of the above". You can't come in the field just as a "theorist", as you mentioned; you have to have some practical experience and some technical knowledge to add to your game. A subset would be fine, but I always respected those with a more rounded/complete skill set - although that won't necessarily land you more jobs.

Don't expect to learn everything at once though, much of this comes with experience and through the daily grind. Keep an open mind, and try to look for answers whenever you don't have them - that alone will take you half way over the hill.

I hope I didn't confuse you more.

Bruce Graham

For me, (as always I'm afraid), while all of these "technical" skills are useful, the most useful skill is an understanding of why businesses actually BUY what you are trying to sell, being able to sell yourself and what you do, and knowing how to form relationships that lead to repeat business. As Alex hints, you can always pick up, (or outsource) what you do not have in order to provide a service. I provide a "complete service", however I seldom, if ever, do it all on my own.

Chris Chagnon


"All of the above."  Wow, where do I start?

 I already have many technical skills,  it's just I find most of the jobs want extensive experience, work samples, lots of technical skills.  My experience has been limited when it comes to building actually elearning.  Currently I'm trying to build a website to showcase samples of work, but I don't have any actual work to showcase.

I figured if I had more skills in my belt (coding javascript, html/css, etc.) it might get my foot in the door.  As you suggest I can learn skills overtime, but it requires having elearning jobs, do gain that experience.  Honestly I think when I graduated with my Master's I should had an internship with an elearning design firm lined up.  I've reached out to a few people, but most people don't seem to want to take on an intern.  



Chris Chagnon


I hear what you're saying and I'm working on wrapping my head around the business side of elearning.  I recently picked up Cammy Bean's book "The Accidental Instructional Designer" and can't put it down.  I'm always looking at other elearning developers websites and reading blogs to keep me informed.  My biggest challenge it coming up with a solid plan to make the career shift. 

I've spent the past 10+ years working I.T.  I started as a technician working for a small company, basically running their I.T. department.  Then I progressed in higher education supporting faculty, students, and staff.  I gained extensive knowledge of computers, networking, software, etc.  Since then I've moved into managing all Instructional Technology for a local college (classrooms, conference rooms, lecture halls, digital signage, LMS, Lecture Capture, and much much more).  In addition I'm the support person for software training as well has online course development.  I've gained valuable customer service experience over the years and know my passion is helping other learn.  

As you can see I'm spending more time on managing projects, then developing elearning.  I want to transition full-time into elearning, which most likely means moving onto a new job.  My biggest weakness is I think I need to be an expert or a seasoned professional in elearning before I can make the leap.  I know I don't need to know everything nor can I, but I also don't feel like I can approach a client with my current knowledge.  

Alexandros Anoyatis

A question I should've asked sooner: Are you looking to freelance or are you looking to get hired? These are two very different things IMHO.

I based my answer on the assumption that you were planning on doing the former. So maybe I've been off topic there.

In any case, I would advise you to do the following. Find a topic you really like or know very well (for example IT Admin) and make a course out of it - the specifics are your choice.

Sit down with (or without) Storyline and start drafting a storyboard using the best model that fits your lesson (or none at all if you think it won't help). See how that works out for you. Once that's done: evaluate, make available for review of others, examine where you're good at and where not. Then rinse and repeat.

You could also head over to the e-learning challenges section of this forum and try to work of those, they can be of great assistance to someone who wants to build a portfolio.

That's my 2c,

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