2018: Reflecting on a Year of Growth

We’ve reached the end of 2018—and what a year it’s been! From increasing the number of posts on the blog to presenting at conferences, it’s been a busy year for our team.

When we started Model eLearning, we decided to share content every other week. This year, we challenged ourselves to double that (yeah, we might have been a little crazy).

Your enthusiasm for the extra content lets us know we’re on the right track, though, so thank you for that! Over the year, we’ve met great people online and in person, and those conversations helped shape the topics and tone of Model eLearning. 

Let’s look at a few highlights from 2018.

Behind the Scenes at Model eLearning

As an industry, eLearning continues to grow—and we definitely see this growth at our university. Over the past four years, we had a 215 percent increase in online enrollment. (Which has been pretty nutty, to be honest). So, we’re dedicating a lot of time to streamlining processes and looking for ways to be more sustainable and scalable in how we design.

This process of analyzing our workflow encouraged us to set goals for professional development. In June, some of our team presented the e-Cornucopia conference, which renewed our passion for accessibility and universal design for learning (UDL).

We found our low-hanging fruit to apply these best practices in our GenEd Syllabus. After we converted it to a more accessible form, we shared our research and process at the Symposium on Universal Design for Instruction and Learning. Keep an eye on Model eLearning if you’re interested in our presentation—we’ll post our content from that conference in early 2019.

Improving eLearning Design and Course Content

As designers, we always look for ways to find inspiration and beat the dreaded design slump. We strive to make a course more interactive and remove barriers to learning.

You might have access to the best eLearning tools (lucky you!) or you might need cheaper options. It’s always worth exploring more cost-effective options. But don’t jump into a tool thinking you’ll learn it on the fly—be deliberate and find efficient ways to master it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re moonlighting as an instructional designer or acting as an eLearning team of one or many, you can create good habits to help you make it through a deadline. Remember, if you have problems working out the kinks of a project, it’s okay to abandon those dead end ideas to find better ones.

When you collaborate on a project, little bugs creep into shared documents (Ed note: I’m dealing with one on a syllabus right now. Grrrr…). But when you format your eLearning documents correctly, you ensure they’re accessible for all.

We couldn’t have quality content without our subject matter experts (SME). When you work with a SME, you need to build trust and avoid assumptions. Whether it’s helping your SME curate content to prevent information overload or helping them adopt open educational resources (OER) to reduce student costs, it’s important to consider practical ways to stay student-centered. Content may be king, but pedagogy paves the path to the throne.

Whether you teach or design (or both!), it’s important to make your eLearning more authentic. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) model allows instructors to create and maintain community within an online or face-to-face classroom. In addition, instructors build relationships with students to motivate them to engage with the subject.

Looking to the Future of Learning

It’s important to remember stories from eLearning’s past as we consider the future. We’re all in different places of expertise in the eLearning ecosystem, and we can lean on each other’s experiences to build our own.

When you start in a field, you don’t always know what you’ll discover. I found a few things I wished I’d known before becoming an instructional designer. In his first year on our eLearning team, Dave found some challenges and opportunities to being strategic about design and managing projects.

Not everyone who works in eLearning will stay, but that’s okay. Just as the skills you learned before working in the field help you with eLearning, so do the skills you learn in eLearning translate to your next career.

Technology continues to drive changes in society at an unprecedented pace. With the rise of smartphones, it’s only a matter of time before we see mobile learning, or mLearning, allowing us to create more adaptable, personalized learning. Understanding game design principles will help us deliver courses that challenge learners to engage with course materials.

The eLearning industry’s in a good place to keep learning out of an imaginative gridlock. Our skillsets continue to diverge, and we see a new divide of instructional design-related job duties and titles. But as forward thinkers with a design skillset, we can lead the way to the future.

Thank you for your support in 2018. Next year, we’ll bring you even more content: we’re planning a newsletter, templates, and if your very lucky, a podcast. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

What was your favorite post in 2018? What topics do you want to discuss in 2019? Let us know.

Author: Jessica Bishop, Instructional Designer

Jessica is a designer and writer focused on learnability, storytelling, sensemaking, wayfinding, and removing barriers to learning. A Michigan native, she likes crafting, reading, walking, and spending way too much time in the distant corners of the internet. You can also find her at JessicaMBishop.com.

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