Friday, 30 June 2017

Digital Learning Design - from apprenticeship to permanent job

The whole purpose of the Digital Learning Design qualifications was to create and up-skill an eLearning workforce.  An overview of the apprenticeship I designed and ran is shown in this video from 2 minutes 23 seconds onwards and a brief overview of the qualifications are here.  Maybe not all apprentices pursued eLearning or learning technology careers afterwards, but this proves that these courses have ignited the apprentices creativity and been able to apply it into an educational context.

In my previous learning technologist role in further education that included line managing, teaching, assessing a small team of apprentices and leading on internal verification, which led to me winning the Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2016 and other internal and external awards that the team were recognised for.  Since I moved on I have kept in touch with some of the apprentices.  Some asked for references for when they applied for jobs and I also sent them jobs they could potentially apply for.  But as I managed the apprentices, apprenticeship and qualifications I am keen to see how they have progressed on in their early careers and how the apprenticeship has impacted on their careers and development.

I remember it well when I completed and moved on from my business and administration apprenticeship many years ago.  It's such a scary but exciting feeling that you're going into (usually) your first proper job.  The looming anxiety of working with new people, adapting to a new working environment and knowing how to approach your new seniors.  It's one of those early moments when you realise you're an independent young adult.

I have chosen Brad and Sarah as I know they have continued to work in the eLearning industry and I developed them from the first year we ran the courses from the Level 3 diploma.  They then progressed onto the Level 4 extended diploma for another year.  I interrupted their busy schedules to ask them the following questions and these were their responses.

Brad Brown Lang
Sarah Jones
What is the role you are doing now?  What kinds of tasks do you undertake?
As an instructional designer, it is my role to create engaging learning materials for online students, consisting of a range of multimedia such as graphics and videos, as well as interactive content.
Instructional Designer, I develop online learning resources for students completing online degrees using video and audio which I edit together to engage the learner as well as using other forms of media.
What was your biggest challenge going into the workplace?  Did you feel equipped and ready from the apprenticeship?  If so, what were these?  If not, what would have helped you to be equipped and ready?
The biggest challenge for me were not knowing how well I was going to adapt to the new environment and team. I felt as though the apprenticeship had given me all of the skills I needed. This included technical skills like using programs such as the Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Captivate and Moodle. However, these also included personal skills such as being able to work more effectively as part of a team, improving my time management, and presentation skills.
I'd say the biggest challenge was moving into a bigger office than previous. I felt ready from the apprenticeship as I could use my knowledge and skills straightaway from what I had learnt and I barely needed any training.
How have you used the knowledge and skills gained from your L3 and L4 apprenticeship?  Was there any particular parts of the apprenticeship that enabled you to use them instantly?
Although I am currently using different programs from what I used during my apprenticeships, they were very similar to each other, which meant that I was able to familiarise myself with the programs pretty quickly, along with a few pointers from my colleagues along the way. Also, the fact that I am already very familiar with 'chunking' is extremely useful, as in my current role I need to break down large chunks of content into smaller and more useful parts. Both of these I feel helped give me a nice smooth start in my role.
I use my video editing skills everyday which I learnt on the course as well as what I learnt about how to keep learners engaged in the content I am producing by using a wide range of media. 
Are there any choices you have changed since doing the L3 and L4 apprenticeship?  Has it met your aspirations or not?
I feel that both of the apprenticeships I completed did meet my aspirations. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent working with my colleagues, as well as learning all of the valuable variety of skills along the way. I feel that without taking part in those apprenticeships, I would not be where I would be now.
When I first started the apprenticeship I wanted to be a Graphic Designer but since doing the apprenticeship and since starting the full time job I definitely want to carry on being an instructional designer.
What future plans do you have for your career?  Is it still in eLearning?  Is there a particular role you are aspiring to do?  Any areas within the company?
I hope to continue being an instructional designer for the next few years at least, however if at some point in the future any jobs arise that would allow me to progress further into the industry such as managing a team of designers, I may give that a try.
I want to carry on doing e-Learning design and instructional design and hopefully move higher up by being a head of learning technology in a company. 
What successes have you had in your job roles since starting them?  Any recognition or feedback from your colleagues and your manager?
One success that I have had since starting my new job is that I have been able to quickly produce content of suitable quality fairly quickly, this was due to the knowledge and skills I had learned during the apprenticeships previously. My new manager has mentioned to me in a meeting about how relieved he was with the quality of my first couple of projects.
My current manager and some colleagues often give me great feedback on my work. I would say a great success for me was passing my 6 month probation.

The qualifications have proved to be well-aligned and valuable for instructional design and have supported the apprentices well in securing a full-time permanent job doing it.  The qualifications have also equipped them with creative, technical, communicative and organisational skills as required for this type of role.  The range of software and instructional design techniques I introduced have also proved useful to them by allowing them to hit the ground from the start and demonstrate their worth.  The qualifications have opened up career pathways and allowed them to aspire into senior roles in the eLearning and learning technology industry.  I'm very pleased to see they want to continue in this industry and direction.

Seeing these positive comments about the quality of their work just makes me feel very proud of them.  Knowing how they both started off on the Level 3 course on a career pathway that was new to them, to the young independent adults they are now.  Just marvellous!  They've reached what we hope of all our learners which is independence in life and a prosperous career.  They're now confident and making their own informed choices towards building their futures.

I'm very proud to have been a part of their journey and developed them as I have. I quickly evaluated, monitored and coordinated their abilities so that I could facilitate their strengths and transform their weaknesses.  However, they had their own unique ambitions, motivations and determination to succeed in this multi-skilled job role that is instructional design.  When I supplied Sarah and Brad's reference for their current job, it was nice to hear feedback from their now manager telling me how employable they are and that it is a credit to myself.  I feel like this is nice recognition for the efforts I did to ensure they were industry ready.  I'm looking forward to see how the rest of their careers shape up in the future.


In December 2019, I received this comment from Steven Turner, who spent some placement time in Elephant Learning Designs (the internal company the apprentices were based in).  He went onto working in an eLearning company.

"Without your advice and guidance to kick start career at Elephant Learning Designs, I wouldn't be in the position I am today."