E-Learning & Instructional Design

What it is

The need for training and learning is ubiquitous across most organizations and fields. As the world moves towards online presentation of information, the ability to design and deliver effective and engaging online and mobile learning experiences becomes increasingly pervasive in all sectors. In addition to colleges and universities, an astonishing variety of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies need people who can make technology work to convey complex content successfully for learners of all kinds.

Starting points

Because this career path is so new, starter positions are often not conveniently labeled with the words “E-Learning” or “Instructional Design.” Any job that includes a component of designing online learning experiences for others can be a good entry point. Clever use of less-obvious search terms such as “content,” “training,” “learning,” “hybrid learning,” “delivery,” “development” and “curriculum”
can help surface such positions.


The good news about the diversity, even diffuseness, of this field is that there is an equal diversity of directions you can take once you get started. Those inclined towards management can rise towards positions like Chief Learning Officer. Those who enjoy the instructional design process can focus on developing instructional content and teaching, pursue additional certifications and become thought leaders in the field. Those who enjoy the learning technologies themselves can move in a more technical direction, getting involved in the creation and development of online learning platforms.


There is room for all disciplines in this field, as no subject is off limits to online learning. More important than your academic discipline is your enjoyment and understanding of learning technologies and how people learn.

Personality and outlook

Love to teach but don’t necessarily need to do it in a classroom, or even necessarily to teach academic subjects per se? Interested in using technology to engage learners? Enjoy a project-based, deadline-driven environment? This is a good career for you.


Become a consumer of online learning programs: take a MOOC or an online class, and seek out online learning experiences outside higher education. Get an overview of the prevalent e-learning platforms, content management systems and basic principles of instructional design. Teach an online class yourself. Download a free trial version of content authoring software. This is one career where things you’re already good at– studying, learning and teaching – can really pay off!

Real Life Examples