With an increasing number of learners turning to the Internet for educational content each year, the need for e-Learning professionals is likely to only grow. We asked e-Learning leads at several leading organizations for their predictions about what the career market would look like in 2021. All felt that the need for e-Learning was only growing, which bodes well for the profession.

What are the most important skills sets you look for in an e-Learning designer?

Respondents felt that the following skills were particularly important for e-Learning designers, no matter their experience level:

An understanding of how people learn best. Respondents recommended that e-Learning designers have a grounding in the way people learn, whether that’s a specialty in adult learning, a background in teaching or training, or a sense for the “big picture” of learning goals. Understanding how and why people learn most effectively can help e-Learning designers craft effective and impactful experiences that actually help learners absorb the material. 

Familiarity with e-Learning platforms and software. While different organizations use different platforms and tools, respondents recommended that e-Learning designers have a basic grounding in learning technology. Since most designers will also be working with a developer who brings more technical expertise, they should be able to articulate how a particular learning experience should function on a particular platform or piece of software.

Adaptability across projects, audiences, and topics. All respondents noted that a degree of flexibility and adaptability was critical for e-Learning roles. This was particularly important when working across different topics and instructional styles, from narrated presentations to video to interactive assessments, all of which require different approaches and strategies. 

What advice would you give to e-Learning designers looking for their first role?

For e-Learning professionals who are early in their career, respondents offered several pointers, which include:

Understand blended learning. An increasingly popular trend, blended learning incorporates elements like interactive content, gamification, and in-person instruction into a cohesive whole. Knowing which pieces of content fit where is important for a beginning designer working in the blended learning space.

Consider the “big picture.” When putting together an e-Learning module, respondents recommended first-time designers always consider the “why” and “how” behind the learning. Why does this content matter to students? How are they best going to learn this material? Keeping these questions in mind can help create more effective learning opportunities. 

Be able to discuss your process. When you land that first interview, be able to discuss why you made particular design choices in your e-Learning work. As one respondent noted, it’s important to explore all the steps of the journey rather than the end result alone. For example, what were some of the difficult decisions you had to make along the way and how did they influence the outcome?

What trends are you seeing in the e-Learning field for next year and beyond?

Respondents noted a variety of emerging trends in e-Learning that will impact the field in 2021 and beyond, which include:

  • Increasingly, e-Learning needs to be produced quickly and in collaboration with many different teams. 
  • Blended learning will continue to be a popular and growing trend. 
  • E-Learning platforms will gradually move towards measuring student outcomes, rather than simply their activity on a platform. 
  • Remote and self-paced learning will become more popular during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

E-Learning is a fast-growing and fast-moving profession. Following some of the tips above can help you take advantage of emerging opportunities in 2021 and the years ahead.