An L&D Team's Journey from Cost Center to Revenue Generator
I feel lucky to have fallen into a field I love: instructional design. It’s a great mix of technical know-how and creativity. Almost two years ago, I joined one of the world's largest professional services networks as a senior instructional designer.
My job is to take our in-house subject matter experts’ (SME) content and convert that into engaging and insightful elearning for our employees. To me, instructional design is about translating content in the best possible way for each learner. Our aim is to help our peers to continue their industry education in-house, develop new skills, improve their performance... all in a worthwhile way that fits with their busy schedules.
By creating this level of training internally, we discovered our team could even contract out our services inside the company—turning our department from a cost center to a revenue generator.
Engage & Train a Diverse Workforce with a Modern Approach
When my colleague and I came on board as senior instructional designers, we wanted to make an impact. My company's elearning at the time was more linear—geared toward regulation, compliance, and behavioral themes. There was a lot of narration, and the material felt a little dry. This is often the norm at global accounting firms like ours.
To ensure our employees were getting the best education to grow in their roles, we wanted to make the module content shorter and punchier. More digestible content would ensure greater engagement. We also wanted our modules to be more modern and responsive. With a growing number of our employees wanting to use their own devices, we needed a system that could work anywhere. We did some market research, tried out a handful of options using free trials, and discussed what would be best for our needs. With all of the different elearning solutions that we tried out, was the clear winner.
We created a few courses in Elucidat just to see the response, and we got some great feedback. Every new hire in the company would receive onboarding training modules, so we thought that would be a great way place to start. We revamped old modules into Elucidat, and they now have a much fresher feel. The younger demographic of many of our new hires is very comfortable using an interface that mimics a website—navigating the menu, scrolling, and other normal digital behavior.
The speed of authoring definitely set Elucidat apart. While I was more familiar with an open-source software called Adapt, it was a little more complex to build a page compared to how simple it was in Elucidat. We can add elements, delete them, and move them around. The software is very user-friendly. This ability to easily build modules is great because it allows me to build whatever is in my mind, but it’s also crucial to help us move quickly as a two-person team.
Create a Nimble Process
With only two of us producing elearning course content, we needed to put a repeatable process in place for our small team.
Each week, we meet for an hour to understand our pipeline of requested content. We’ll then divide up the work based on our availability. These planning meetings are absolutely essential.
Once we have our plan laid out, we meet with the SMEs. This is where my experience comes into play. Our SMEs know their content, but we know how people learn. We’ll sit down with them to understand their objectives and get their source content (mainly PowerPoint presentations or user manuals). If they struggle to visualize the final product, we’ll create a mockup of a few pages to help them get a better understanding of how it will look and flow. We use that information to create a module map for how the course should run and what content should be where.