Two Ways to Build an E-Learning Portfolio

e-learning portfolio

You want to build an e-learning portfolio, but not sure where to start?

At its core, the work portfolio represents your skills and expertise. For some people, the portfolio is their resume, and they build it to share what they know. And for others, the portfolio shows their projects as part of the journey that needs to be documented.

During the initial planning, decide if you want the portfolio to be static where you only do occasional maintenance and updates. Or if you want a site that’s more dynamic and continually updating?

Build a Static E-Learning Portfolio

For a static portfolio, the main goal is to show off the best of what you can do. It’s your business card. You build the portfolio and it’s not constantly being updated. It’s not something you spend a lot of time on. You only update it once or twice a year.

Here are a few considerations when building a static portfolio.

  • Represent diverse skills. Identify a few common course types such as interactive scenarios, compliance training, software simulations, etc.
  • Present the projects in a consistent framework: What was the goal? What role did you play? What did you build? What was the outcome?
  • Keep is simple. No need to show the entire course. Either show screenshots or small chunks of the module (like just the interactive parts). You could do a quick 30-second video trailer of the module. That’s also an effective way to get around uploading a real course when it is proprietary and you can’t share it.

Build a Dynamic E-Learning Portfolio

For a dynamic portfolio, the main goal is to show what you can do as an ongoing pursuit. It highlights your evolving skills. Many people show projects, share files, and discuss things they learned on the projects.

  • Determine a manageable schedule. Most people start aggressively and then peter out and the portfolio goes nowhere. You’re not a news site where you need to post every day. Start slow and be consistent.
  • Commit to a production process. What tends to be the most difficult is producing new ideas. That’s why I like the weekly challenges as a way to manage the portfolio. Commit to one per month. This gives you something to build and show as a routine.
  • Share your learning. Show what you built and then write about things you learned. They don’t need to be big thoughts or exhaustive. For example, you could say, “in this example, I wanted to play around with animation ideas…”
  • Be the expert. Share your source files and do quick tutorials. Read an industry book or blog posts and write your thoughts.

Whether you build a portfolio as an active job seeker or to document your learning, it’s a good practice to develop. Do you have a portfolio? If so, feel free to share a link and share your thoughts.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

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The Power of an E-Learning Portfolio

e-learning portfolio

At one point, I was hiring an e-learning course developer. I received hundreds of qualified applications; however I couldn’t screen them all, so I created a first filter based on their work portfolios. Most of the applicants tended to fall into one of two camps: they didn’t have an e-learning portfolio or the projects they worked on were proprietary so they couldn’t share them.

I know that many of you are in the same boat. And based on the tons of emails I get about finding work in this industry, I’d like to share some thoughts about why you need a portfolio and how it can help you get better at e-learning (even if you’re not looking for work).

Be at the Crossroads When Opportunity and Preparation Meet

Opportunities exist. However, when you’re not prepared, you don’t see them or bother looking. And if you do look, you don’t always know what to look for. If you have a portfolio ready-to-go, when you do hear of a potential job (or other opportunity), you can quickly jump on it. However, not having a portfolio might dissuade you from even attempting to pursue the opportunity.

In addition, because you maintain a portfolio of your skills, you’re more apt to think about the skills you need for the portfolio. It then becomes a motivator to learn more which will always help in your career.

Concerning my hiring experience, most of the people told me that they didn’t have portfolios and it would take them a week or so to pull them together.  Most opportunities have a limited shelf-life and a week (or sometimes a few days) might be too long. As an opportunity presents itself you need to be able to take advantage of it.

Control Your Own Destiny & How Your Skills Are Defined

Many e-learning developers face two common problems: all the work done is proprietary and can’t be shared with outsiders. And worst, the organization’s course expectations are lower than your skills.

A lot of people tell me they can’t share what they were working on. This makes sense for the organization, but not for you. Don’t allow their content to make your skills proprietary, as well. In the same sense, don’t let their lower expectations define your skills. This is not about being anti organization. Instead, it’s about being pro you.

Years ago, I worked for a small community healthcare organization. It was a wonderful place to work. However, they had no money, and I was forced to be creative with my projects.

This was a double-edged sword. On one hand, a lot of the tips and tricks I share today come from having to work with no money or resources. On the other hand, while I got points for creativity, the projects I produced weren’t the types of projects I could use to get a job elsewhere. I had to build and maintain a separate portfolio of skills that wasn’t defined by the organization’s constraints and limited expectations.

Here’s something that happens all the time and an important consideration: if you lose your job, you could be flushing a lot of your work down the drain. One day you’re happy at work and the next you’re out on the street with no access to your projects or the tools used to build them. For these reasons, it’s important to maintain a portfolio to document your skills and experience and maintain an archive of projects.

What Should Be in Your E-Learning Portfolio?

E-learning is a truly diverse industry. Some people work in one-person shops where they need to know a little of everything and others can focus on one thing like instructional design or course development. Personally, I think e-learning skills should be like a liberal arts education where you touch a little of everything.

Here is a list of skills you need and can highlight in your portfolio (and be able to speak to them in an interview):

  • Instructional design: Do you have examples of different approaches to learning and course design? I look at a lot of courses and most of them are usually linear and kind of all the same. Have some examples of how to engage your learners and how they can interact with the content.
  • Graphic design: While everyone talks about instructional design, an equal consideration is the visual design. In fact, what separated many of the candidates that I considered were their visual design skills. If all things are equal, I’ll take someone with a keen sense of visual design because it crosses into other areas like engagement, communication, and usability.
  • Present diverse projects: Don’t show twenty courses that all look the same. If that’s all you get to work on, then spend some time on your own and build out other examples. They don’t need to be complete courses. Build out an interaction or a scenario. Take one topic and try it three different ways. Do the weekly challenges for easy modules that work great for portfolio content.
  • Project management: You don’t need to be a project manager, but you should understand how to manage a project from start to finish. What is the production process for an e-learning course? How many hours does it take to build a course? What resources are required? What does it cost to produce a course? What types of assets are required? How will they be produced or procured?
  • Writing: I like to keep things simple. I look for two types of writing examples: technical and conversational. How well can you write to document procedures and provide the right level of guidance? On the other hand, some projects are not technical and require a more conversational tone.
  • Technology: You don’t need to be a software engineer, but you should know the essence of the technologies and how they work. In addition, the more tools you’re familiar with the better. The reality is that the more proficient you are with software, the more likely you’ll be a top candidate versus someone in the middle. And learn about building accessible e-learning. It’s no longer an excuse to not know.

How to Get Started with an E-Learning Portfolio

Here a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Build a simple case study for each project. It doesn’t need to be overly fancy. Describe the project objectives, what you did, and the results. If you have examples add them. If not, at least try to add some screenshots. Focus on a professional and interesting visual presentation of those projects.
  2. Start a blog to document your learning. Use it to capture what you’re doing and thoughts you have during the production process. If you need ideas to get started, do a weekly challenge, and then share what you did and write about your process. Share your files.
  3. Network with others. Experience is no good if you have no place to show it (portfolio) or share it (your network). The good thing with blogging and other social tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and the e-learning community is that you connect with others in the industry. You’ll learn a lot and others will get to know you and your skills. It’s a wonderful way to prepare for opportunities. In fact, many e-learning developers I know got their jobs through their portfolios and sharing their work with others.

If you want to stay in this industry and keep up with your skills, then having a portfolio is critical. You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control how you prepare for them.

What do you think is missing from the list?  What would you add?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

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Here’s a Free Tool to Build an E-Learning Portfolio

free portfolio

A guest post by Elizabeth Pawlicki, Training Program Manager, Articulate.

You need a portfolio! Even if you’re not currently looking for a new job, maintaining a portfolio is important as an archive to highlight your work and experience.

In previous posts, we covered what should be in your portfolio and how to build one (with links to some potential sites).

However, I continue to get questions on how to host and manage a portfolio.  That’s what I’ll cover today.

Free Portfolio Site

Recently I came across a free tool called SpreadSimple, which is really cool because it builds websites out of Google Sheets (something many of us already know how to use). You create columns of information, and it takes a single line on a Google Sheet and turns it into a “card” on the site.

free portfolio demo

Demo Portfolio

I really liked that I didn’t need to do any programming and by adding content to Google Sheets I was able to create a simple website. So, I created a portfolio to test how easy it is to use. You can see it below.

free portfolio

Click here to view the portfolio.

How to Build the Portfolio

Keep in mind, the SpreadSimple site uses Google Sheets to pull in the data for the site. However, it doesn’t host your media. So, you’ll need a place to host your courses and images. There are a number of options here, but I used Amazon S3.

I added the portfolio content to my Google Sheet, added links to courses on Amazon S3, and in no time at all, I had a modern, professional looking web-based portfolio.

I really didn’t need much on my sheet, so I started with my course title, a description, the link to where the course was being hosted in S3, and the link to the course thumbnail, also in S3.

Later, I realized that SpreadSimple allowed for filtering when viewing the completed site, so I added a “Tools” column to my Google Sheet and organized my courses by whether they were built in Storyline 360 or Rise 360.

To give you an idea of just how little you really need to build a site, here’s a behind the scenes look at my Google Sheet.

free portfolio google sheet

It’s really easy to build and manage a portfolio this way. Here’s a quick tutorial where you can watch me add a new course to my portfolio just by adding a new line to Google Sheets, filling in the cells, and refreshing the SpreadSimple page.

Click here to view the tutorial.

If you don’t already have a portfolio, give SpreadSimple a try. The service is free if you don’t need to use any of the integrations or set up a custom domain. I found it quick and intuitive.

What do you think?


Elizabeth Pawlicki


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

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