In the Hot Seat . . Matt Guyan talks to Ruth McElhone
In this series of blog posts I’ll be chatting to the folks here at B Online Learning to find out more about how they work and I’ll be looking for some tips so that we can learn from the experience of others. In this post I caught up with our Learning Director, Ruth McElhone.
You’ve been working in the eLearning field for some time, what do you love about it?
I love that there is always something new to learn, some new technology or innovative ideas to provide memorable learning experiences. It’s an industry that is never dull and always changing. I love that I’ve been able to connect with experts in the industry on a global level and grow my personal network via social media such as Twitter. I love that my views and opinions are challenged by what we do and what technology we use. This keeps me on my toes and makes me always want to be better at what I do.
What are some things that you still find challenging?
The challenge for me is keeping myself up to date with new trends and new technologies. However keeping up to date is not enough. You need to allocate time to research these new trends and technologies and be able to decipher if they are just full of bells and whistles or are really going to have an impact the learning experience.
What would you say are the key skills required for someone involved in the eLearning field?
The ability to take risks, experiment and be adaptable are a must. In this type of industry, things can change at a rapid pace and you must be ready to change with them. Risk taking is another important skill. Sometimes we have to take risks with the learning experience we are creating and the technologies we are using. Sometimes these risks pay off and sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board.
The last but probably most important is understanding your learners and creating meaningful learning experiences for them. Regardless of what technology you use, this is paramount.
The eLearning field is constantly evolving, how do you keep up-to-date with everything that’s going on?
Good time management! I look at my week and where I can slot in some time to catch up on my reading/professional development. It could be your commute to work, sitting in the airport or picking up the kids from swimming. It could just only be 15 minutes a few times a week. I use Twitter, eLearning Heroes and some LinkedIn groups to keep up to date. If I read everything that came into my inbox, I wouldn’t get anything done. You have to be selective. I also usually have a topic of the month that I focus on e.g. gamification etc. I focus my reading around that area and then usually write a blog post or two based on my learning. This helps me analyse what I’m reading/researching on a deeper level.
What’s your advice for someone starting out as an eLearning developer?
My advice would be to look at your strengths and weakness in this field. If you don’t come from an education background then it’s worth upskilling yourself in creating effective learning strategies. If it’s the technology side, then it’s worth upskilling yourself in your chosen software etc.
Then get online. Keep up to date with trends in the industry.
Finally be real. By this I mean have the ability to think for yourself and not to get carried away by what people are saying online. Sometimes people just disagree with a new trend or theory just because they have a voice online……’haters gonna hate’! Instead, listen to your learners, listen to your stakeholders and most importantly, listen to yourself!
Thanks for your time Ruth, you’ve shared lots of good advice!
If you’d like to connect with Ruth she’s on twitter @ruthmcelhone and LinkedIn.