22.05.2017

Old trainer, new tricks – 7 steps to make the transition from facilitator to eLearning designer

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Continuing the theme of learning nuggets from our award-winning content team, Emma Parnell shares some insight about transitioning from being a classroom based trainer to an eLearning designer.

Having been a trainer for the best part of 20 years, a lot has changed in terms of how training can be delivered to the learner. Moreover the demand for instant, at your fingertips learning has grown beyond all expectation and I wanted to be part of the new way of doing things. So how did someone like me, an ageing facilitator with a phobia of technology, make the transition to eLearning designer?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and maybe sometimes that’s true. Let’s turn this on its head a bit by thinking about what you know and what you do well but just do it differently. I did this and I have identified 7 steps that show how you can transfer your existing skills to eLearning.

Here are my 7 steps to becoming a successful eLearning designer:

Step 1:

Imagine a computer is a classroom – eLearning design software is evolving rapidly and is becoming more interactive and responsive than ever. It’s now possible to create eLearning that interacts with the learner perhaps in a similar way to how you do as a facilitator. For example, you can ask the learner questions and they can respond by selecting answers or typing in a reply and this can link to feedback that can tell the learner how well they did.

Step 2:
Think like a learner – When deciding on what should be in a piece of eLearning, consider the sort of questions the learner might have. Even though you are not with them in a classroom you can incorporate potential questions into engaging training such as a case study or a scenario.

Step 3:
Less is more - You wouldn’t talk constantly for 2 or 3 hours in face-to-face training, so don’t make eLearning just one long piece of text. If the content makes for a long course, consider breaking it down into bite-size chunks of learning that makes it easier to digest and doesn’t require too long attention span.

Step 4:
Use your imagination – what kind of learning engages you and keeps your attention? The chances are that your learners will be just like you in that way, so think of creative ways to present your content.

Step 5:
Are words always necessary - Don’t be tempted to add lots of text to set a scene or describe a situation in place of the words you would use as a facilitator. Instead use animation and illustrations more. Too much text on a page is a turn-off for learners. They say a picture paints a thousand words and in eLearning this is good to remember.

Step 6:
Talking to the learner - I was concerned that I couldn’t communicate with a learner in eLearning. Actually you can still talk to the learner in an eLearning environment by adding audio to the course. If you combine audio with graphics/video then it becomes more show and tell, just like you would in a classroom environment. Audio and graphics together are as good a combination as fish and chips.

Step 7:
Finally, don’t be afraid to try things out - Many authoring products offer free trial periods and great instruction for use, so give something a go. I reckon you will be a better eLearning designer than you might think. Above all, have fun with it.


I took the leap and it works so please, give it a go, you never know where it will lead.

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