Learning managers often ask us what skills they need in their elearning production teams, to make them a success. Whether you’re starting up or expanding your team, here’s a checklist of roles and skills to look out for. It will help you hire new people, contract-in or develop your current team’s capabilities.
4 key elearning team roles and the skills to look for
Below, we’ve listed four key roles you’re likely to need to create and manage successful, modern elearning for large audiences. You may find that you can hire someone who can cover more than one of these roles. For example, a Graphic Designer who is also an Authoring Tool Expert, and can build out content and layouts directly.
Equally, depending on the scale of the projects you’re producing, you may decide that you want to invest in your Authoring Tool Expert to enable them to become a great Learning Designer too.
A lot of exactly what you’re looking for will depend on the size and set up of your team. We’ve shared ideas on how to structure your elearning team here.
Read on for the skill profile of each core elearning production role. We’ve also shared some insight into the backgrounds and qualifications to look out for – some may surprise you!
1. Learning Designer
May also go by the name of: Script-writer, Instructional designer, Digital Learning Designer, Learning Consultant, Learning Content Designers, Learning Experience Designer
The role of a Learning Designer
Learning Designers investigate what’s needed to improve the desired performance of a target audience. They then design a meaningful, engaging solution to help solve that problem. Learning designers represent the end user throughout the design process – honing in on what will help, and filtering out ideas and content that won’t.
Experience and skills to look for in a Learning Designer:
- Need analysis – they can uncover the root of performance problems, via a consultative approach, and recognise what needs to be fixed
- Creative design– can design enticing, engaging experiences and are able to bring content to life, creatively, to engage end users
- Learning design – recognises how to structure and design experiences and content that engages end users and actively helps them to improve their performance in the target areas
- Content filtering – they can curate and smartly filter through content to identify what may be useful and what is not, to support the design and overall project goal
- User-centred – they can put themselves in the shoes of the learning audience, and understand what’s needed, the context in which they need it, and what makes them tick, so they can create solutions that engage and work for that audience (also see Design Thinking)
- Stakeholder management – they can proactively work with stakeholders and subject experts to elicit what’s needed to make the project a success, and gain buy-in to the design
- Content review and editing – with a keen eye for detail, Learning Designers carry a project over the line and ensure the quality is up to scratch.
You may find your Learning Designer has a particular leaning towards copywriting, visual thinking or logical content structuring. If your Learning Designer is strong on structuring and designing – but not writing – why not bring in a copywriter from outside, who can really make your copy hit home?
Bonus skills: able to use authoring platforms and design software, such as wireframing tools.
Could be making the leap from: marketing, training, coaching, multimedia production, communications.
2. Graphic Designer
May also go by the name of: Graphic Designer, Visual Designer, Animator, UX designer, Front-end Designer, Web Designer, Art Director
The role of a Graphic Designer
Using visual communication is a powerful way to engage learners, reduce word count, explain concepts and processes, and create memorable learning experiences. A Graphic Designer can work both on the content – creating visual assets to convey points to users – but also on the overall style, layouts, feel and usability of an experience.
Experience and skills to look for:
- Graphic design
- Image editing
- Working on brand – can design within brand guidelines
- Visualise complex ideas, simply – they can live up to the idea of a picture speaking a thousand words, and communicate complex ideas and processes clearly through visuals
- UX design – they can design layouts and digital experiences that are simple and easy to use, and apt for the audience
- Creative thinkers – can design enticing, apt, visually rich experiences and are able to bring content to life, creatively, to engage end users
- User-centred – they can put themselves in the shoes of the learning audience and understand what’s needed, the context in which they need it, and what makes them tick, so they can create visual solutions that engage and work for that audience (also see Design Thinking)
Bonus skills: Illustration/animation, video editing, Art Direction (setting the overall styling of an end-to-end experience)
Could be making the leap from: multimedia design, illustration, web design
3. elearning Project Manager
May also go by the name of: Project Manager, Project Coordinator, Producer, Digital Producer, Programme Manager, Account Manager
The role of an elearning Project Manager
Keeping an elearning production team running on time and on budget is a job in itself. An elearning Project Manager will guide the rest of the team through an efficient production process, taking responsibility for planning and resourcing, budget, schedule and stakeholder management.
Experience and skills to look for:
- Coordination of multi-skilled teams – they enable teams to work together smartly, and efficiently, to meet project goals
- Stakeholder management – proactively identifies and liaises with stakeholders to ensure they are involved and informed, as required throughout a project lifecycle
- Progress tracking and reporting – to stakeholders who need it
- Risk management – proactively uncovers risks and manages them, with the team, to keep projects on track
- Scheduling – can create schedules and take ownership of meeting deadlines
- Budget management – can assess likely budgets, set targets for teams, and take ownership of sticking to target costs
Bonus skills: Experience with Authoring and Learning Platforms, upload processes, and has some technical knowledge
Could be making the leap from: project management in other design or media oriented organizations, training leaders
4. Authoring Tool Expert
May also go by the name of: Content Developer, elearning Developer, elearning Author, Digital Learning Developer, elearning Producer, elearning Tool Expert
The role of Authoring Tool Expert
To build a mapped out learning design and content in an authoring platform of choice, making smart choices about how to do that quickly and effectively. Also brings their knowledge of authoring tools to the table and works with Learning and Graphics Designers (and others as needed) to advise on how the learning design ideas can be brought to life in the authoring platform(s).
Experience and skills to look for:
- In-depth authoring skills – they know a tool inside out and can build content and desired design outcomes efficiently and effectively
- Design-orientated – can offer solutions and input in the design process via their in-depth knowledge of authoring tools
- Business-minded – they can streamline authoring processes and consider how to set-up reusable elements and templates to speed up production
Bonus skills: Experience with Learning Platforms and upload processes, able to carry out basic edits to content, interested in design and learning design
Could be making the leap from: one authoring tool to another!
Make sure your authoring software isn’t holding your team back – are they experiencing these common authoring challenges?
Useful Qualifications and Backgrounds
The learning and development industry is full of people from all sorts of backgrounds. There’s certainly no hard and fast rules about what qualifications and backgrounds you should look for. However, you might find these of interest:
- Understanding how people learn
- Designing effective ‘habit-changing’ experiences
- Tone of voice
- Scenario writing and storytelling
- Making content appeal to specific audience groups
- Learning campaigns
- On-screen design
- Designing experiences that are easy to use and effective on different devices
- Quickly getting their head around different subject matters
- Communicating complex theories, simply
- Understanding different perspectives and viewpoints
Art / design
- Branding and professional looking digital learning
- Creative ways of bringing content to life
- Visualising key learning points
- Supporting written learning with memorable visuals
Got great people but need to grow key new capabilities within your elearning production team? Our Professional Services Team may be able to help you build capabilities in your team in a hands-on ways.