Here’s a bold statement: Being an instructional designer or e-learning developer without a portfolio is pretty much an industry-related crime. At least it is if you want to position yourself well within your organization or within your industry market. There are a lot of developers out there competing for the roles you might hope to have (now or in the future). So it’s important to get your work out there, but you need to do so strategically.
An e-learning portfolio is essentially a container meant to house all of your most representative (or best) work. It should provide a visual guide related to what you can do within the industry and technologies that you work within. Additionally, your portfolio should be a representation of the work you would like to continue doing.
Having worked for organizations where there are many internal applicants, many of whom have checked the “more time at organization X” than I, having a portfolio available when I walked into interviews was critical. It gave me a leg up during the interview process, and likely made me a more desirable applicant than those who didn’t come as prepared.
There are many reasons people cite for why they don’t have a portfolio. My response to those reasons: “Thank you for your excuses. Now, suck it up and get it done!” Sure, there are non-disclosure agreements and controlled goods, but at the end of the day, it comes down to making things happen. You are your own destiny, and that phrase holds weight when it comes to building your portfolio. Just get it done.
How about looking at it this way: building your e-learning portfolio could be considered a direct correlation to a potential increase in your work-life happiness. Everyone strives to be happy (most of the time) when doing the one thing we spend most of our lives doing: working. So take initiative to do one simple thing that could enhance your work-life.
Another good reason for creating an e-learning portfolio: sharing! A portfolio, depending on how you design it, is essentially you working out loud. You’re showing off your work not only with hiring committees within your organization, but you also can show off your work to your peers. Working in higher education has shown me that people love to see what their peers are doing. We’re all a little nosey, and things you’re doing could stand to help a colleague who is feeling ‘stuck’ trying to figure out a template or interaction.
At the end of the day, I would consider a portfolio to be a cornerstone in the career of any instructional designer or e-learning developer. It amplifies your ability to choose your own adventure when it comes to your career, and it is my hope to spread the gospel of portfolio building and dissolve any related myths you may have heard.
Want to learn how to create your own portfolio? Join me September 10-11 for the ATD Core 4 Conference in Toronto.