If you like working with technology to create learning experiences then e-learning development might be just the thing you are looking for. In this article, I’ll give you a real world view on how to become an E-learning Developer based on my many years of experience.
For information on a variety of learning and development roles, check out I Want To Be in L&D: Getting Started in Learning and Development.
What is an E-Learning Developer?
In the strictest sense, an e-learning developer (or e-learning designer, or e-learning specialist) focuses on the creation of e-learning using a variety of software tools. They may also be responsible for the instructional design, but not necessarily. There are companies and projects where the e-learning developer is only doing that – the building/creating of the e-learning. i.e. someone else (an instructional designer) creates the outline, objectives, storyboards, etc… and then hands that over to the e-learning developer who then builds it in whatever tool.
I think it’s important to understand that being an e-learning developer isn’t necessarily the same as being an instructional designer. I mention this because I see people posting about wanting to get into “instructional design” when what they really want to do is focus on e-learning and building courses in something like Storyline or Captivate. There is nothing wrong with that (wanting to build and create in these and other software products). To be honest, my favorite part of an e-learning project is getting into the software and creating. So, if that is what you truly want to focus on and not worry about all of the pesky up front analysis stuff that an instructional designer does, then I’d be looking more at “e-learning developer” type jobs.
Having said that, my personal experience has been that I have had to do both the instructional design and the e-learning development when creating e-learning, even when my title wasn’t specifically “Instructional Designer”. As I mentioned in my ID Spotlight article, it gets really confusing as to what roles are responsible for what as there is a lot of cross over depending on where you work. These articles are a good starting place to figure out the kind of work you want to do. And then, rather than getting hung up on a particular job title, look at the job descriptions as you search and use that as your guide for whether or not you want to apply for that job.