2017: My eLearning Year in Review


For my first year getting serious about instructional design and eLearning, it was jam-packed with struggle and success. Inspired by Melissa Milloway's annual practice of reflecting on her journey as a learning experience designer, this post follows suit. Here are this year's accomplishments and challenges, as well as some teasers for what's coming next:

I hand-coded my portfolio website from scratch

For me, this was my biggest win of 2017. I so desperately wanted to move away from my limited Wix portfolio, so I took the plunge into coding (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, oh my!) and launched my year-to-date masterpiece. After so many times staying up until 3 AM trying to make a SINGLE feature work before going to sleep, I feel much more competent with web dev (although I know I am still at the foot of the mountain).
Here's to completing the Front End Development Certificate on Free Code Camp in 2018 and continuing to improve my website.

I started my Master's in Instructional Systems

Stayin' true to my alma mater, I couldn't resist Florida State University's Master's program in Instructional Systems & Learning Technologies. I don't love Tallahassee (itching to move to a bigger city...), but I love what this program has to offer. While I'm exploring all of the tech on my own time, these classes bring me deep into learning theories and instructional systems design. I'm also so excited to graduate in summer and hopefully move out to Seattle!

I became one with Articulate Storyline

This tool became my bread and butter for creating digital learning experiences. I spent hundreds of hours in Storyline, using it for class assignments, ELH challenges, personal projects, and, after getting great with the program, even clients (yay)! I was even able to help out a few of my classmates who were new to the tool. In 2018, I hope to share some Storyline tutorials and screencasts to spread the love.

I learned a ton of new tech

Oh, beautiful technology. If there's anything that drew me to this field, it's that I get to constantly learn fun new tech. This year I aimed to conquer the fundamentals. I spent the most time with Illustrator, Adobe Animate, Construct 3 game creator, Storyline, Camtasia, and Snag-it, but I also took on After Effects, Premiere, Photoshop, and a few LMS's. I plan to keep delving into the Adobe Suite and learn the advanced features of Adobe Captivate (in the name of being well-rounded).

Side note: even though it's one of the simplest tools I've used, I absolutely love Snag-it. It changes the screenshot-taking game forever and speeds up my tutorial-making workflow by a ton.

I put new systems in place at VSolvit

It has been an excellent feeling to put what I'm learning from my Master's into place at my part-time job. Since being promoted to the training team lead last year, I have gained a little more power to make change. Together with my team, we have instituted a feedback compliance process (what good is feedback if we're not using it to make our courses better?) and are in the process of moving from Google Slides authoring (good ole' budget limitations) to the open-source Adapt authoring tool. Point for interactivity!

I landed some serious eLearning contracts

Besides my website redesign, this has been the year's biggest accomplishment. I started off on Upwork with small eLearning jobs, but after launching my new website, posting new pieces, and building my LinkedIn network, I began to hear from potential clients about much bigger projects. I've landed several of these and am in conversations about several more starting next quarter. Even though most of these projects are in the healthcare industry, I love that I can jump across industries through contracting.

The interest in my work is like a breath of fresh air. After all of the skill-building and networking, it is super motivating to get noticed by people who need eLearning or instructional design expertise. Because of this, I'm so excited to make my services official with the launch of eLearning Extraordinaire LLC on January 1st!

In all, 2017 was an amazing year to kick off my career as a learning experience designer. I know that 2018 will be just as filled with learning new tools and getting frustrated when my code doesn't work, but it will also mark the move from Master's student into full-time instructional designer or eLearning developer.