Classroom to desktop
Transitioning from a traditional classroom teacher to the world of digital e-learning marked a significant shift in my career, something that is not too uncommon now, with people rarely sticking to just one career throughout their working life.
My teaching journey began after leaving Kingston University with a degree in Fashion, at the same time realising that the fashion industry wasn’t quite the fit for me.
Stepping into a cover role at a local high school, I soon realised the impact I could make in young peoples education and enjoyed the challenges of navigating a completely different day, every day!
I qualified with a PGCE specialising in Secondary Art and Design the following year and spent the next five years teaching Art, Photography, Graphics and Textiles.
Witnessing students growth and those lightbulb moments were truly highlights of my time in education, as well as striving to create a safe haven and a community for those who enjoyed Art, which later grew encompassing Drama and Music when I became Head of Faculty.
During my time teaching, I would encourage my own students to embrace experimentation and taking risks. These experiences lead to thinking outside of the box in order to problem solve. These are qualities that are essential in every field of work, and also qualities I needed to hone in on when lockdown struck in 2020 when almost overnight traditional teaching methods had to be adapted to suit online learning.
I soon discovered there was a whole world of e-learning out there, and it was already moving at great speed.
Embracing the change and the fact that engaging teenagers now looked very different whilst they were at home, I took to creating TikTok style instructional drawing videos filmed from the kitchen table with accompanying work booklets to send home.
Going back to classroom teaching after lockdown just didn’t feel the same and I began to explore the digital training industry further.
The saying you don’t know what you don’t know is true, and I was aware that I had gaps in my knowledge especially in processes and using authoring tools.
To start to close the gap, I signed up for a 22 week Diploma in Digital Learning Design with the Digital Learning Institute, containing 11 unique modules. I studied the end-to-end process and created a project covering:
- Design processes such as ADDIE and SAM
- Universal Design Principles
- Scriptwriting, Wireframing, Storyboarding
- Multimedia Design – including using authoring tools
- Programme roll out and user platforms
- Artificial Intelligence
The course equipped me with vital knowledge and I began to find my feet in the digital sector.
The project work was a great way to put my new knowledge into practice, and making a prototype gave me an opportunity to explore Articulate Storyline and combine my design skills into an end product.
I found that although I needed to up-skill in certain areas, my teaching background gave me a solid foundation, with a strong understanding of pedagogy and learning theories.
While adult and child learning have differences, the theories used to construct learning journeys are very similar. For example using frameworks like Blooms Taxonomy and SMART objectives for setting learning goals, chunking content to prevent cognitive overload and scaffolding information to help students build on prior knowledge are important for both adults and children.
However, I needed to get used to the setting change, no longer being able to read the room and adapt my strategies on the spot, it was important that I started to anticipate all challenges a learner may face and address them in the course structure to prevent disengagement.
Then came entering the world of e-learning!
In my teaching roll there was little need to network and attend events, so getting out of the classroom and into a new sector was an entirely new experience for me. Knowing that I’d need a helping hand I sought my Dads guidance and after a lifetime career in the oil and gas industry himself, it turned out he had some connections that I was very grateful for.
Kevin (Executive Chair at EEEGR) who currently works within the energy sector, had previously worked in e-learning and was a massive help answering questions and giving advice and he also put me in contact with Ian (Founder of Reuzer). Ian was kind enough to answer my questions, give me guidance and also offer me a project to work on – which is how I find myself here writing this article.
It’s ironic that when I was little my Dad would encourage me to consider a career in this sector to which I kindly declined, but I guess kids have to learn for themselves and thankfully my Dad was kind enough to not say I told you so!
Whilst I have been working with Ian and the Reuzer team, I feel my biggest learning curve has been becoming comfortable with not being the subject matter expert. For the projects I’ve worked on, the client provides the content, a scriptwriter creates the narration and then the instructional designer puts it into a multimedia package, collaborating with animators and videographers throughout the production process.
Over these last few months, I’ve learnt how important user experience is, ensuring the script is constructed in an active voice and linking visuals to illustrate the narrative helps the user feel part of the learning. There are also details to consider such as consistency within the design of multiple courses, but I was able to work within some prescribed grand guidelines which made this process simpler. Fonts, layouts and brand colours were all defined, and it was up to me to use them in the best way I could.
But most importantly, the final stage of getting a course over the line took me longer than I expected. For example, we had to check alignment of everything, close all of the timelines up, test the course and also implement any client feedback!
These small details make such a difference but knowing about them comes with experience, so I am grateful to be learning these tips and tricks from Ian and the Reuzer team.
My journey into instructional design has brought challenges and accomplishment, and I realise I have only just scratched the surface.
Each project brings a new learning curve, a chance to refine my skills, adapt and innovate. Both the energy industry and the e-learning industry is evolving, e-learning with advancements in technology, learning trends and AI, and the energy industry with the increased investment in the East of England and the global energy transition to renewables and carbon capture technology.
It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to progressing and evolving my skills within the industry as both a student and a creator to see where the adventure takes me!
Article kindly provided by Emily Denby.