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Reflecting on my first year in the industry

They say time flies. And, coming up to the 1 year mark on my time as a Learning Designer at THRIVE already, it seems it does!

I moved to THRIVE as a graduate after university. I thought that my development as a writer was pretty much complete. How wrong I was! So now is as good a time as any to reflect on my first year in the elearning industry. Here are the top five things I’ve learned in the past year:

Why use 10 words when you can just use one?

Writing is a skill that you never stop adapting and honing. What was successful when writing essays really doesn’t work when you’re looking to engage and educate learners. The simplest words are the most effective. If what you’re telling the learner isn’t completely relevant to the topic, is it necessary? If you find yourself having to explain a lot, it’s worth going back to the drawing board. Keeping it concise and conversational is what’s going to keep learners interested.

A new creative outlook

Having worked in student media, I was aware of the importance of design to user engagement. Often, it was a case of matching the designs to the words as best as was possible. But with online training, it’s a much more collaborative process. When I write, thinking about how each section could be designed is second nature. A seamless script and design is only a good thing for user experience.

Pushing the boundaries

Like with any job, you need to master the basics before you can master everything else. But that doesn’t mean that once you do, you can rest on your laurels. Trying to push the boundaries and figure out new and exciting ways to engage our learners further is a key part of what we do at THRIVE. With the confidence of a year’s experience behind me, this pursuit of innovation is only going to get stronger.

‘What would I want?’ – asking the right questions

When you’re writing an essay at university, you’re often asking yourself what your professor would want. After all, they were the one marking your work. Now with elearning, it’s much more difficult to ask all your learners what it is that they want from a module. Instead, it’s about figuring about what I would want if I was the learner, and using techniques such as empathy mapping to relate to them. Going with your gut isn’t a bad thing.

Learning isn’t always a timed or measured process

It’s not about trying to cram all you can into a ten-minute piece of learning. The better thing to ask is how we can deliver the messages in a way that makes sure the learner takes the most useful information away. Or better yet, wants to come back for more! We let the content dictate the resources we create, rather than shoehorning into the same format time and time again.

Add these things together, and I think the most important lesson to take from the first year is that learning and development is an ongoing process. Whether it’s finding a new way to explain a concept to learner, or a new way to engage them, there’s never a time to rest on your laurels.

I’m excited to see what the next year holds!

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