The Rapid Elearning Blog

A few weeks ago I announced a job opening.  I got about 1000 inquiries and ended up looking at over 200 portfolios.  I could have looked at more but I got a lot of emails from people who didn’t have portfolios.  They tended to fall into one of two camps.  They either didn’t have a portfolio or the projects they worked on were proprietary so they couldn’t share them.

I know that many of you are in the same boat.  And based on the tons of emails I get about finding work in this industry, I’d like to share some thoughts about why you need a portfolio and how it can help you get better at elearning.

Be at the Crossroads When Opportunity and Preparation Meet.

oprah1

Opportunities exist.  However, when you’re not prepared, you don’t bother looking; and if you do look, you don’t always know what to look for.  If you have a portfolio ready to go, when you do hear of a potential job (or other opportunity) you can quickly jump on it.  However, not having a portfolio might dissuade you from even attempting to apply for the job.  In addition, because you maintain a portfolio of your skills, you’re more apt to think about the skills you need for the portfolio.  It then becomes a motivator to learn more.

About 50 people told me that they didn’t have portfolios and it would take them a week or so to pull them together.  Most opportunities have a limited shelf-life and a week (or sometimes a few days) might be too long. As an opportunity presents itself you need to be able to take advantage of it.  

Control Your Own Destiny

Many elearning developers face two common problems.  All the work you do is proprietary so you can’t share it with outsiders.  Or the organization’s expectations are lower than your skills.

Too many people told me that they couldn’t share what they were working on.  This makes sense for the organization, but not for you.  Don’t allow their content to make your skills proprietary, as well.  In the same sense, don’t let their lower expectations define your skills. 

Years ago I worked for a small community hospital.  It was a great place to work.  However they had no money and I was forced to be creative with my projects.  This was a double-edged sword.  On one hand, a lot of the tips and tricks I share today come from having to work with no money or resources.  On the other hand, while I got points for creativity, the projects I was producing weren’t the types of projects I could use to get a job elsewhere.  So I had to build and maintain a separate portfolio of skills.

Here’s another consideration in this economy.  If you lose your job, you could be flushing a lot of your work down the drain.  One day you’re happy at work and the next you’re out on the street with no access to your projects or the tools used to build them.  For these reasons, it’s important to maintain a portfolio.

What Should Be in Your Portfolio?

Elearning is a very diverse industry.  Some people work in one-person shops where they need to know a little of everything and others can focus on one thing like writing. 

Personally, I think your skills should be like a liberal arts educations where you touch on a little of everything.  So here is a list of skills I think you should be able to highlight in your portfolio and be able to speak to them in an interview.

  • Instructional design: Do you have examples of different approaches to learning and course design.  I look at a lot of courses and most of them are usually linear.  Have some examples of how to engage your learners and how they can interact with the content.
  • Graphic design: While everyone talks about instructional design, I think an equal consideration is the visual design.  In fact, what separated many of the candidates that I considered were their visual design skills.  If all things are equal, I’ll take someone with a strong sense of visual design because it crosses into other areas like engagement, communication, and usability.
  • Present diverse projects: Don’t show me 400 courses that all look the same.  If that’s all you get to work on, then spend some time on your own and build out other examples.  They don’t need to be complete courses.  Build out an interaction or a scenario.  Take one topic and try it three different ways.
  • Project management: You don’t need to be a project manager, but you should understand how to manage a project from start to finish.  What is the production process for an elearning course?  How many hours does it take you to build a course?  What resources do you need?  What does it cost to produce a course?
  • Writing: I like to keep things simple.  So for me there’s two types of writing: technical and conversational.  How well can you write to document procedures and provide the right level of guidance?  On the other hand, some projects are not technical and require a more conversational tone.  As Cathy Moore would ask, “Can you dump the drone?
  • Technology: You don’t need to be a software engineer, but you should know the essence of the technologies and how they work.  In addition, the more tools you’re familiar with the better.  The reality is that the more proficient you are with software, the more likely you’ll be a top candidate versus someone in the middle.

Getting Started

Here a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Build a case study for each project.  It doesn’t need to be overly fancy.  Describe the project objectives, what you did, and the results. If you have examples add them.  If not, at least try to add some screenshots. 
  2. Create a blog to document your learning.  Use it to capture what you’re doing and thoughts you have during the production process.  If you need ideas to get started, look at some of the demos in this blog.  Take one of the ideas and play around with it. 
  3. Network with others.  A portfolio’s no good if you have no place to show it(your blog) or share it (your network).  The good thing with blogging and other social tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is that you connect with others in the industry.  You’ll learn a lot and others will get to know you and your skills.  It’s a great way to prepare for opportunities.  Just ask Cammy.

If you want to stay in this industry and keep up with your skills, then having a portfolio is critical.  You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control how you prepare for them.

What do you think is missing from the list?  What would you add?  Click on the comments link to share your thoughts.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


80 responses to “Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio”

Thanks so much for this great and timely post. Like many others you mention, I found myself quickly jobless without an elearning portfolio. I either didn’t have samples available to me of the projects I worked on, or the ones that I did have were below my skill level.

Your post is very helpful in defining the types of items I need to pull together to present a full picture of what I am able to do.

Luckily I have a new job lined up next month. While I didn’t have as full of a portfolio as I wanted, I was able to quickly develop some items to show to a client who I had worked with previously. Not only did they have my past experience with them, but they were able to see a sample of what I had learned since working with them.

I plan on maintaining samples of the work that I will do to keep my collection updated and to finally put it all online.

thanks-
Claudine
(follow me on Twitter: @bearclau)

Include course design plans, needs assessments, and evaluations in your portfolio. Especially evaluations, not only to show you can evaluate a course, but hopefully it’s results show the effectiveness of you course.

I keep my portfolio on a flash drive and can present it at anytime. If not f2f, I have it available online too.

[...] Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio | The Rapid eLearning Blog | Tom Kuhlmann | 16 June 2009 [...]

This is a great article / tip. You need to have a good portfolio of your work available on the web all the time. If you meet someone or see a posting for a job, you should be able to send one link with an email explaining yourself and let the portfolio do all the hard work.
I used to have one that did exactly that. I let it fall into disrepair a while back. This article has inspired me to get it back up and running.
Great job!

For an e-portfolio site try http://www.teachertube.com. You get to put your stuff up and check out what others have done. Everyone wins.

My question then is if my work is proprietary to my employer, can I show anything about it at all? A case study may still be seen as sharing information about a project that is proprietary. So does this mean I have to try to do outside projects that I can generate a portfolio for? Well, I also signed an agreement not to work for competitors on the side. I would really appreciate the clarification on what I can use to demonstrate my skills and show a real portfolio since my eLearning is all proprietary material. Please advise. Thank you.

June 16th, 2009

Hi Tom.

I was one of those people who didn’t have a portfolio ready when you announced the position and I spent 5-6 hours a night for 5 nights getting one ready so that I could apply for the position. Though I didn’t get the position, it lit a fire under my butt to finally follow through on a very important item on my to-do list: create an e-portfolio. I was happy to finally get something together and am now prepared for the next great opportunity. And I can continue to develop it as I grow and the task of developing it is not so daunting.

I had an issue with the platform that we use to deliver our courses. I was not able to export any of my courses to use as samples in my e-portfolio. Instead, I took screen captures of a few of the pages and pasted them into a PowerPoint. I explained the restriction and that it was just a sample and also included explanations about any interactivity that was included on a specific sample page. This might also be used for proprietary courses – simply by selecting pages that don’t have any proprietary content on them to us as samples.

June 16th, 2009

Tom,

What a very good blog! You’re are 100% right on the money with this one. This is what has kept me employed for years. As an Instructional Designer, what I typically try to do with my portfolio is have projects that match ADDIE. I have samples of Needs Assessments, Design Docs, Developments an Implementation schedule and Evaluation. This process served very well and employers find this very impressive. On another the note, not sharing proprietary information. What works is to block out important company information with an image. I’ve done this Captivate, PPT and Articulate projects. It’s easy to do. You only need to show about 5 to 10 slides of course information anyway.

The ultimate key is to have the ability to explain how you completed your projects. I’ve sat in many interviews and found that job seekers show nice projects; however they can not walk me through what they done to reach completion. Which is just as important as showing the portfolio.

Again, thanks for the blog.

Kathie

This is an incredibly helpful and thoughtful post.

I felt stuck about the proprietary content issue, but you provided some fantastic and constructive alternatives and also reminded me the importance of having a portfolio.

Also, I’ve been feeling lately like my skills and project are too diverse and sometimes lack depth. Although I get very interesting projects, one day I’m buried in Articulate and another day I’m managing a big meeting. You reassured me that “touching on a little of everything” is actually quite right.

Thank you for taking the time.

Great blog!! I fell into the very category you talked about. The job opening motivated me to develop a portfolio. As part of that process you showed me a great product, Dropbox, where I could store and share my work.
The job description also made me see what my deficiencies are, just as you mentioned.

Thanks again!

Doug

ps…how did I stack up? :-)

The proprietary issue can be a real pain in the a**. Some suggestions:

Keep a blog and write in general terms about the challenges you’re facing with projects as you go along. You can point a prospective employer to your blog to show them how you approach things and how you solve problems.

Scrub your screen shots. Blur out client logos and take shots that don’t include anything too specific. Your case study can talk in more depth, but the screens ‘prove’ you’re not just making it up.

Don’t freak out too much about trying to include everything. Your future employer wants to get a sense about how your work and how you think. You can hit this from many angles, including actual conversation.

Kudos, Tom

Very timely and very needed today. While much is focused on the written word (studies, papers, dissertations) there is nothing like presenting a graphical representation of one work as well. Good eye candy! Someone once coined that graphics are the fifth symbol. Nicely said.

I was fortunate enough to have an all seeing pushy professor in my past that made it a requirement to create a portfolio for a grade. Cringe, grit, pout, hmmm. But today my fellow classmates and me can only sing praises of this poor soul who had to deal with such inexperience fledglings.

Again, very timely AND very good advice…Thxs.

Yes, it is a fair cop. I’ve been collecting programme examples and case studies to put into a portfolio for sometine but never really got around to doing anything with it really. Ok I’m fired up and ready to go for it and will spend some of the following evenings getting the project underway. I do have one thing to admit, I know nothing about gettign this stuff online – any suggestions of books or guides please. David

Hi Tom,
Having an on-line portfolio is essential for any profession/industry, but most tend to look like on-line resume’s. When you posted the opportunity for the job I had a ‘portfolio’ but not one that highlighted my elearning skills. That gave me an idea to revamp some things and a suggestion your readers might find useful is to create an actual elearning course about yourself: “In this course you will learn about Me!” Then do some creative course structure that walks viewers through as if they’re taking a course and the added benefit of the portfolio being an actual course can demonstrate instructional design, graphic design, and writing at a minimum plus it’s easy to expand and maintain. I didn’t at the time but plan on adding an assessment :)

I keep copies of my best work. Like has been previously stated, you can always “scrub” out identifying information. While having an online portfolio is preferable, don’t let it keep you from getting started. I also keep a binder with printed examples of various projects, awards, comments from clients, etc. I take my binder and a CD with several example courses, graphics, posters, etc. to an interview. As I speak with the interviewer I also ask questions and get a sense of what they are looking for. Then I pull out my CD and we go through the samples that I feel would be most appropriate for their situation. I include before and after versions of my courses to show how I have taken what I have received from the SME and made into an e-learning course.
This process got me my current job–so it works.

I agree with Jeff Goldman’s comment about including course design plans and needs assessment. In fact, I didn’t have much choice other than including my graduate coursework as an integral part of my online portfolio (since this field was new to me).

Another thing I had to depend on was what I believe to be the key:

Think about what you have accomplished in the past and how it can be related to an instructional design job. For instance, my previous career was in Public Communications. Most of my work consisted of writing and communicating clear and concise messages as well as designing publications. When the time came for my first ID interview, I made sure to show the connections with the two fields: create and deliver robust content to a variety of end users.

Even though I have a nice client list, all that work was proprietary (mostly pharmaceutical, signed NDA). I was able to create a portfolio of non-profit work and wrote about my approach to training. I don’t have a blog yet and am not sure I can maintain one adequately. (work 50+ hours a week, work/life balance) At a minimum, I think elearning folks looking for work should have a web site where they present themselves and apply basic brand marketing concepts. I would welcome feedback on my website and portfolio.
http://www.catepoole.com

Tom, the first thought I had was not addressed in any of the comments, yet. Especially now, non-profits are struggling. I recommend that an elearning professional volunteer to create some elearning courses for a cause they care about.

I suppose you might pick something that is not over-the-top controversial so that does not become an issue. And let them know that you’ll be including this in a portfolio so they don’t feel it is proprietary to them. My guess is they will be delighted that is has a larger life.

Document the entire process as you suggest. You might even be able to get your current employer to allow you to use their software to create it…and even a bit of the work day to do so. That is a stretch but ask.

You can end up doing good while creating a portfolio that shows your stuff without the constraints of your work job. Win-win!

IDEAS:
An eCourse on CPR for your local volunteer fire department to put on their website
An eCourse on how to start a community garden
An eCourse for your local school on anything of interest
An eCourse on paddling skills if you are into kayaking to share with your local kayaking club
An eCourse on active listening skills to add to the local Crisis Clinics training

Anything you are interest in at all has a group that is promoting it.

Great article on the importance of portfolios. It is also useful to write some reflective pieces on the items in the portfolio to demonstrate your thinking about them and further your learning and development. I even wrote a little piece about this on my own website earlier this month.

Great ideas. As someone who used to help select instructional designers and writers, I’d vote for making sure your portfolio includes writing or design samples that haven’t been edited by someone else. I cared most about what kind of work applicants naturally did themselves, not what a publication or client did to their work when they published it. Samples that came straight from the applicant gave me a sense of how much work I would have to do to their work. In your portfolio, you could present it as, “Here’s what I gave the client.”

Tom, great issue, it is inspiring and factual.

Tom, thanks for all your insight to help people learn.

Thank you for this excellent article. Great, practical ideas. You are a class act.

This was a fantastic post and so very relevant.

Tom,

Another great post!

One thing I’d like to add to all of the great comments above is regarding samples of a course created in a tool you no longer use… and that clients are not asking you to use.

My portfolio of e-learning samples and my blog are fairly current. However, I realized there’s a tool I may not use ever again. What do I do with those work samples?

I’m going to re-develop them in Articulate!

To reiterate what Tom has said, blogs are a great place to talk about your instructional design approaches, and prospective clients/employers do read them if they’re interested in you.

It’s been true for me, and both the portfolio and the blog have helped me land some good work. For 2009, I’m planning a redesign of the look and feel of both, and it’s wonderful to see what others in our field have done. Very creative people!

http://www.RidgeViewMedia.com/blog

http://www.RidgeViewMedia.com/portfolio.html

@jenisecook

A very interesting piece of advice.

I think you have touched on all aspects, except the audio part. It is as essential, but I suppose you will include that under writing part?

Yes, ID is a very important part of designing the whole lesson. What should you mention there – what kind of approaches one uses, or is familiar with?

People like me, who are ID/ content writers, do not generally come in contact with how my storyboard is converted into an online lesson. Then what can you mention about the technology in one’s portfolio?

Thanks for sharing. This is a very timely email and one that adds extraordinary value!

This whole “I can’t show anything because everything I do is proprietary” is bull. I’ve interviewed many instructional designers and invariably, out of a crop of 10, there will be 1 that shows up prepared to the interview and with a portfolio of their work. And myself and the other interviewers never said to them, “Gee. This is proprietary! How dare you show it to us!”

If you’re a competent elearning designer/developer you should at least be able to slap a substitute image or delete the branding on any course. What else is so “proprietary” that it would cause a former/current employer to sue you? Nothing. Some people just create imaginary boundaries for themselves, and they’re really just excuses with no basis in reality.

My rant is over : )
mark

June 16th, 2009

Here are a couple free sites to consider for posting an online portfolio:

Weebly — http://www.weebly.com
Free website and blog. Very easy-to-use interface and and actually includes some decent templates.

Carbonmade — http://www.carbonmade.com
Free online portfolio site.

SG – your portfolio can serve two purposes. First, to get you in the door for an interview. Then, once there, you would bring a laptop with your portfolio on it and you can describe your impact on the final deliverable. For example: why you chose a certain design strategy at particular points in the course, etc.

mark

June 16th, 2009

Thanks for the post. I am just about finished with my Master’s with a concentration in E-Learning. However, I don’t have much to show in a Portfolio at this time. I am in the middle of switching careers, coming from heavy technical side. I work in Gov’t and have only had the opportunity to do one e-learning project so far. So this was timely for me.

@Mark, I think you’re being unreasonable. I have interviewed many designers and I would take a really dim view of them if they were to showcase materials from their current employers without the right permission. This is simply because I wouldn’t go parading work that I do at my firm to someone else.

You’ve got to understand that most people go for interviews while still having a job. They can’t run the risk of being fired for IP infringement!

This said, I think its safe to take a generic section of the content – redo it without confidential/ proprietary material, and present it to an external audience. I’ve been doing a lot of that in the past. I think what’s most important is to maintain a blog. I for one like to know how someone thinks and communicates. The expertise you share on your blog can speak volumes for your ability.

In reply to Mark’s rant about proprietary work and self-created boundaries, I would beg to differ. My employer has clearly stated in the employee handbook that no work that I have created while employed at the company can be removed from the premises. In fact the last three employers I worked for had similar polices, which leads me to believe this is a fairly common business practice. If an ID is currently employed I don’t think they would want to risk their jobs to make a public portfolio. I certainly don’t think my employer would be okay if I posted screen shots (scrubbed or not)on my public web site. That said, when I was laid off once, I asked the employer if I could take some materials to use in my portfolio. They happily agreed. (Guilt)

Before suggesting that people grab screen shots and alter them,or take any materials from their employer I would highly recommend people check company policies.
P.S. I work in compliance and ethics training if you couldn’t guess :)

Tom, Thanks for the post, it definitely gets me thinking. I have always kept CDs of my projects but never made a portfolio that I could send others. I have always brought my demos to the meeting to show without leaving a copy for them to keep. I can point people to the websites I have developed and maintained, but not any of the eLearning projects.

I can’t speak for the others here, but I don’t have personal versions of all of the software that I use at work available on my computer at home. I am also not an expert in all aspects of the project. How would you recommend that people in this situation create a portfolio that demonstrates their abilities?

Talking about portfolios reminds me of a person I helped interview several years ago. They brought in a demo of a project they worked on. The more they talked about the project, the more I began thinking that I really wanted to hire his team leader. The person I was interviewing was telling about the innovative design used on the project, but the ideas behind it came from his team leader. The lesson is to make sure you use your portfolio to sell your work and not just the work of another member of the project team.

June 16th, 2009

Thanks Tom for this informative post.

It is timely for me, since I am re-vamping my website and am considering purchasing a Flash portfolio template to link to from my website.

Any suggestions on portfolio templates, Flash or other?

Thanks again for your post!

-Elizabeth

All, proprietary rights have their place. I have had numerous interviews in my job search in the Boston area over the last six months, and although I had samples of non-proprietary work, no one asked to view them. Even when I offered to show them. Bottom line, have some samples with you, but work the interview, not the dog and pony. Tom

Thank you all for the wonderful comments, suggestions and discussion. Tom, I look forward to your post each and every week. It always inspires my thinking and I inevitably end up using one or more of your suggestions very soon after reading. I would particularly like to thank you and everyone in the discussion for the comments about proprietary work. I too work in an industry and for a company where EVERYTHING I work on (including some of the tools I use) is proprietary. Changing screenshots, or blanking out content just wouldn’t be acceptable and according to my employment agreement would get me fired and sued.

With that being said, the ideas shared will allow me to build a portfolio of my own work. I may need to create some courses from scratch on content unrelated to my work (maybe a hobby as someone else suggested). I even have an idea for a non-profit I may be able to work with.

I guess to sum up… I love the posts and appreciate all of the new ideas.

June 16th, 2009

GREAT post Tom. I really wish everyone followed these guidelines packaged up a quick ‘here’s my passion, skill, and potential’ marketing package. As a reviewer it’s really exciting to review great work. On the flip side, it’s a total drag when pouring over really poor or mediocre work.

I would add…

If you can, make your portfolio reflect your enthusiasm and dedication to the craft. If all you can offer is ‘sorry – all my work is proprietary’ then I have to assume that you put in your time at work grinding for the dollar and don’t put a second more into personal development. This results in professional stagnation and reflects a relationship with your work that’s a little too clinical. Personally, I want folks who come to work because they love it… not because it’s what they are stuck with to pay the mortgage.

Select only your best work. DO NOT show everything that you’ve done since you were a wee lad or lass. And don’t showcase things you feel are mediocre or reflect your progression in a new skillset. For example, if you’re learning Flash and have completed a heap of tutorials but the outcome is nothing more than the result of the recipe… then leave it out. But be prepared to talk about your journey in some way – extending what you know into what you want to do with it (’cause knowledge and skills are pretty worthless without some strategy for application).

June 16th, 2009

This is a timely topic, Tom!!!

Web sites like visual cv also allow individuals to showcase their portfolios.

http://www.visualcv.com

I’ve tried it and love it! You can control who sees your portfolio by sending out email invites.

~Annette

June 16th, 2009

Wow look at the response you got there Tom!
What I have done in the past, without reading any tips or ideas from folks here is create my own storyboard of a typical application. Until this year I had no idea how to narrate or write a good script so I now can add that thanks to Lynda.com and my efforts to learn. It can be done just make up something geez julia childs did it!

Thanks for a very timely and insightful post. I always learn from your posts but this one set me on a path of self-reflection.

In retrospect, I can see that I would be totally unprepared for an interview if I were to go today, not because I don’t have the experience but because it is not documented in a manner that is self explanatory or tangible/visible.

Your post has given me direction for two things:
The need to create a portfolio–preferably an online one
The direction for what I want to write in my blog

I have recently started a blog. But I was still hesitant about what I wanted to include in it. I do put down my thoughts or my responses to other bloggers, but something was missing.

The comments to the post and your post have now given me that missing link. I can capture my experiences and challenges, the solutions and suggestions provided and even short samples (pieces of work devoid of copyrighted content/create such pieces if none exist).

Thank you for a great post…and thanks to all for their comments that added to my learning…

June 16th, 2009

Thought provoking article said in diplomatic way.

Viswa
Twitter:kayoed

June 17th, 2009

Great article/tip. You need to have a good portfolio of your work available on the web all the time.

I am very reluctant to talk about current (or recent) clients on my blog. I don’t know that I’d do so even with their approval, since many are larger organizations and thus can have many people in the hey-what’s-this? chain.

So I do two things: one, I often fictionalize the client and the industry, so I can talk about some learning issue without betraying confidences. Second, when I’ve done something I’m particularly pleased with, I consider creating a fictionalized version as a demonstration of what I’ve done. (I linked to a simple example, a PowerPoint-based “interactive storyboard,” in a January blog post.)

That wouldn’t ever get me work as a graphic designer, but it has helped me demonstrate several different skills, including interacting with clients who were new to online learning.

June 17th, 2009

Great idea! Any chance anyone would like to share an example of a portfolio? I have never prepared one before and seeing an actual one would help immensely.

Thanks for all your wonderful insights.

Tom,

Do you or others have any opinions on using free online portfolios mentioned in replies above i.e., visualcv.com, carbonmade.com, weebly.com, and teachertube.com versus creating a portfolio from scratch with Dw or WordPress (partially scratch)?

For example Tom,

Is the contents of the portfolio all that matters? Of your 200 portfolios, were any of them created using the freebies? If so, would an applicant with exceptional content showcased in a freebie been able to hold their ground against an applicant with similar content showcased in Dw or alike?

Any thoughts?

–Dave

Tom,

Do you or others have any opinions on using free online portfolios mentioned in replies above i.e., visualcv.com, carbonmade.com, weebly.com, and teachertube.com versus creating a portfolio from scratch with Dw or WordPress?

For example Tom,

Is the contents of the portfolio all that matters? Of your 200 portfolios, were any of them created using the freebies? If so, would an applicant with exceptional content showcased in a freebie been able to hold their ground against an applicant with similar content showcased in Dw or alike?

Any thoughts?

–Dave

[...] Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio – The Rapid eLearning BlogBenefits of a portfolio plus tips on what to include and what to do if everything you do is proprietarytags: e-learning, instructionaldesign, portfolio, career [...]

Valerie, you can see my portfolio here.

[...] post from The Rapid eLearning Blog,

Greetings from South Africa.

Thank you for an amazing body of knowledge, share so freely.
I am a complete newbie living in a small picturesque but isolated rural town in the north Eastern Cape, at the foothills of the southern Drakensberg.

Last week I was elected onto the committee for the Department of Education in this district – a case of the blind leading the blind. I have authored multimedia courseware for international clients using not-so-rapid courseware – when I lived in Cape Town. Today I downloaded a trial version of the Articulate suite and look forward to getting to know it and the community members.

Anyone else in SA? Thanks again……… Denise

[...] 10 Minutes My Portfolio June 23, 2009 Tom Kuhlmann’s post from last week about why everyone should have an e-learning portfolio motivated me to put mine together. In the past, I’ve always emailed a few samples to [...]

Great comments and suggestions. Many good comment about covering course design and evaluation.

As far as portfolio sites, personally, I’d probably go with my own site. With some fo the free services you never know what ads pop up. There’s nothing worse than pushing a client to your portfolio at the same time your site helps them find hot and sexy singles in the area (unless you’re doing elearning for the hot and sexy industry). Although I do know some people who use the visualcv site and like it.

Whatever you use for a portfolio, you want to make it look good. Really think about the visual design and what it communicates. Also, remember what you’re selling. It’s not a vanity site.

Linda’s suggestion about non-profits is a good one. That’s what I did when I wanted to get into this industry. I volunteered to do projects wherever I could. Also create fake courses. Go to some how-to sites and then build a course around the content. I’d even offer the course to the site for free.

As far as proprietary content, I think you need to honor the client relationship. However, not being able to show proprietary content is no reason to not have a portfolio to demo your skills. I’ve found that many people use the “proprietary content” excuse as a way to not have a portfolio.

@Denise: welcome aboard. Also check out the Word of Mouth blog for some good tips, as well. Plus the Articulate user community is a great place to learn from other users.

When I hire someone, I’m not hiring them because of what they did at their last job. I’m hiring them because of what they are capable of doing for me. Employers put contraints on projects – you had to use their template, you had to incorprate the business owner’s wants even if you disagree, etc… Spend some personal time using your skils to create projects that showcase your talents. What can you do when no one is dictating your design to you? Fifteen years in this field, and I’ve only had one canidate do that for an interview. Of course, she got the job and still works for me today!

[...] 26/06/2009 by Susannah Brown article: Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio [...]

Wow, what a popular post. Great tips.

I have run into an issue that I don’t see mentioned above. I go all the way back to the pre-Windows days, and I have some interesting content that I can’t get to run on any modern machines.

I’d like to believe that the things I am doing today will run on a web site in five years, and I’m hopeful that it’s actually true, but past history is not encouraging.

Any thoughts as to how to protect against the staedy advance of technology and platforms?

Tom,

This is a great post and very timely too.

On the issue of IP – I would agree with what Sumeet and Cate mention above. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Best would be to get permission IF you can. Else just forget using stuff that ‘could’ possibly have an IP conflict. Fictionalizing clients and projects – as Dave mentions above –is the best way to showcase your skills and ensure you never get into IP issues.

Also I advise to not reuse any of your previous works at your new job. IF (though chances are usually low) it gets into a conflict it would become an issue between your current and previous employers and that could be really damaging. At the least it would affect your credibility.

If you could maintain a blog it would give a prospective employer much greater insight into how you think and work.

My 0.02 cents!

Amit

[...] to Tom Kuhlmann at the Rapid eLearning blog, a portfolio allows you to be flexible so that you can answer the door of opportunity when someone [...]

Thanks for that great article. WE do a lot of elearning voiceovers here in Berlin. It is just a you have said. Keep on posting.

[...] eportfolios are at the top of their agendas too. Coincidentally at the same time I received this post. I had applied for this position and was ready for it by instantly being able to send out my [...]

[...] your portfolio. In this industry, you need to be prepared for opportunities.  So many of us only work on proprietary content and don’t have a portfolio to share.  [...]

[...] With the way things are going, you never know when you’ll be looking for work.  So you want to be prepared, which I discussed in a previous post on why you need an elearning portfolio.  [...]

[...] Con il modo in cui stanno andando le cose, non sai mai quando sarai di nuovo in cerca di lavoro. E’ bene essere preparati, e in un precedente post ho parlato del perché avete bisogno di un eLearning Portfolio. [...]

[...] get started with building e-learning courses.  I’ve covered that a bit in previous posts on why you need to create a portfolio and simple ways to get started.  I’m also a big advocate of participating in your learning [...]

[...] if you’re wondering why you need a portfolio, read Tom Kuhlmann’s explanation. Portfolio by [...]

Hi Tom,

From all the learning that I have got from your website, I have created a wordpress blog for myself. Thank you for the portfolio idea, I was able to showcase this to many people.

http://cheryldias.wordpress.com/about/

Let me know your thoughts on the same.

Regards,
Cheryl

@Cheryl: glad to see you work on a portfolio. Your site brings up an interesting question. Should we have one portfolio as a personal sandbox to show off ideas and test things; and then another to show potential employers or customers?

[...] Tom Kuhlmann again posts a relevant and timely blog article on the importance of developing a personal elearning portfolio. [...]

[...] Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio » The Rapid eLearning Blog [...]

[...] Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio [...]

October 18th, 2011

The quote attributed to Oprah was first uttered by Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Philosopher, 4BC. Sorry Oprah.

@Victoria: I gave Seneca props in a subsequent post. :)

Sound man. This has been a life-line. e-Learking is still in its infancy here in the UK and nearly everybody is blind to its potential. Pedants from the teaching profession have also placed their mark on it so it is little more than online textbooks.

For my part, I graduated from a Masters program influenced by the US’s e-learning and that is almost a decade ahead of the UK. Consequently, not only is the work I’d have for showing devoid of the skills I picked up during my Masters, but it is unfortunately what people expect to see.

I want to do so much more than just webauthoring with a few Flash ‘interactions’. I outgrew that ten years ago in a former life.

[...] Here’s Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio » The Rapid eLearning Blog I could have looked at more but I got a lot of emails from people who didn’t have portfolios. They tended to fall into one of two camps. They either didn’t have a portfolio or the projects they worked on were proprietary so they couldn’t share them. [...]

[...] a personal portfolio. Some organizations will stifle your development. If that’s the case, then build a portfolio to practice different things. They don’t need to be big courses. For example, create ten [...]

Thanks TOM,
I agree there needs to be some showcase of your work that displays the quality of work one can do, it is not a conclusive evidence of ones capability but surely a discussion starter paving way for further exploration. and i think that s the spirit a recruiter needs to be aware of.

I may be about 3 years late with responding to this article, however, I just wanted to say that I concur totally with your suggestion and enjoyed reading the comments. E-learning portfolios continue to plague many training specialists. The first being satisfying the prospective employer’s needs. The second being the word “creativity”, what’s creative to the author may not be creative to the reviewer. Lastly there’s a segment of training professionals who excel at delivering live courses but may not have the “X” factor when it comes to designing and publishing an e-learning course, although they have the skills, but the design (bells/whistles and where to place them at may be lacking). As training professionals we are now expected to train as well as produce commercial top notch videos of our work. For some who do not have a creative gene in deciphering what colors and templates to create this would pose a great challenge. I personally would embody two suggestions, 1) take a graphic design course and 2) submit a very brief TNA to the prospective employer, this would at least help you gauge an idea of what’ they’re looking for and still tap into your creativity. I wrote the attached article for my website on this very topic. Hopefully some of the suggestions listed can help others as well! http://bit.ly/PHgvNv.

Thanks for this blog, it’s now officially part of my Bookmarks!

Remember the best thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you – B.B. King