The changing skills of digital learning freelancers

The changing skills of digital learning freelancers

The digital learning landscape is going through a time of transformation. And this isn’t just due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The onset of the digital revolution was already bringing about changes long before March 2020. And these changes in the wider L&D space bring with them a demand for new, different skills from digital learning freelancers. 
So what are these new skills? And how can freelancers go about developing them? Here are the three characteristics and skills that we’re seeing the most demand for from our clients. And how we think freelancers can best develop these:

A holistic approach to learning design

Until recently, digital learning design was made up of many different roles. Each team member focussed on their area of expertise and that alone. The graphic designer wouldn’t worry about the instructional design. The instructional designer wouldn’t worry about the ‘how’ of the content development, and so on. But now, this has changed. We’re seeing more and more clients wanting freelancers who look at the bigger picture of digital learning development. 
This is a pivotal moment, as organisations are moving away from traditional digital learning roles. and introducing ‘learning experience designers’ to their organisations. This is not to say it’s time to abandon the traditional skill set of L&D professionals. Instead, L&D professionals need to evolve their skills and think of the entire learning journey, rather than an independent learning experience. 
In addition to considering the wider learning experience, organisations are also seeking individuals that can design and build learning content. They want someone who can create an impactful storyboard, and bring that to life with responsive eLearning development tools. It’s no adequate to design for laptop-first, and making it adapt to smaller screen sizes. Instead, organisations are demanding truly responsive learning design.
In a recent webinar, John Hinchliffe used the analogy of the existence of the supermarket. Before the supermarket came to life, people would go to a range of different shops to get all of their groceries – a fruit & veg shop, a butchers, a pharmacy and so on. Now, the supermarket caters to all of those needs, and the shopper needs to go to just one shop (saving heaps of time, we’d expect!) This is the approach we’re seeing our clients demand from their freelancers, as they seek digital learning freelancers that are skilled and capable to serve all of their needs. 


How to curate the best content 

Alongside the rise in demand for a more holistic approach to learning creation, more organisations are looking for help curating content. Instead of creating digital learning content from scratch, they know there are eLearning libraries, user generated content and existing materials that suit their needs. However, they need someone with an exceptional understanding of learning, their aims and their objectives to curate this content – translating it into impactful and effective learning programmes. 
In recent years there has been a surge in learning libraries, such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and Degreed to name just a few. These platforms provide an abundance of high-quality learning content. But with this wealth of knowledge readily available, organisations need learning professionals who can curate this content into a format that suits their exact needs. 
Filtered have developed the below 6 step process for curating quality content: 
  1. Understand: Who are your learners? What do they need? What is the challenge the organisation is trying to overcome?
  2. Source: Do you have a library of content available? Is there any existing internal content that should be used? 
  3. Evaluate: Is the content you have right and relevant? Does it meet the needs of the organisation?
  4. Publish: Unleash your curated content to your learners!
  5. Maintain: It’s important to continually check your content for relevancy, accuracy – and mostly to make sure it’s still working! 
  6. Analyse: Like with all learning, you must analyse and review your content for effectiveness. Look for feedback, look at data, is it hitting the organisation’s and learner’s needs?
Using this six step process, combined with your knowledge and understanding of the digital learning space (and what works, and what doesn’t) will enable you to effectively curate content that creates real impact.

The power to influence

Another skill our clients want our digital learning freelancers to have is influence. Digital learning is no longer just competing with our learner’s day jobs. Instead, we’re now competing with a whole host of social, streaming and messaging platforms (and much more). So organisations need digital learning experts that know how to cut through the noise, and influence their learners at each stage of the learning journey. 
With this, many L&D professionals are being asked to foster the skills typically found in a marketing team rather than L&D. For example, we’re seeing a huge spike in demand for copywriters. People who know their craft so well that they can use the right words and phrases to influence our learners – to embark on the learning in the first instance, and then to make the behavioural changes needed. In fact, we’re seeing a lot of organisations using professional copywriters as instructional designers with huge impact. 
To enhance your own copywriting skills, we recommend using the Inverted Writing Pyramid. Starting with the ‘lead’, the most important information, then going onto the ‘body’ the crucial details and finally tailing off to the ‘nice to know’ information. Check out this article for more information on putting The Inverted Writing Pyramid into action.
Aside from copywriting, there are many other areas in which organisations are asking their digital learning freelancers to adopt skills from our friends in marketing. We’d recommend checking out Bianca Baumann’s “Little Black Book of Marketing and L&D” and MAAS Marketing’s “6 high-value hacks L&D can learn from marketers” to learn more. 

Developing these in-demand skills

Developing some of these skills, particularly those that we associate with other organisational departments, might seem daunting at first. But it needn’t be. Here at Jam Pan, we know the best digital learning freelancers inherently have these skills. And rather than developing them from scratch – we need to work to bring those skills to the surface and make you stand out in the L&D marketplace. 
That’s why we’re on a mission to help you enhance these skills, starting with easy-to-use, highly demanded authoring tools. Moving away from the ‘big two’ authoring tools of days gone by – we’re seeing organisations specifically request eLearning developed in newer, responsive, highly-customisable tools, such as IzEasy, Evolve and Elucidat. So, we’ve developed a ‘learning journey’ of our own for you, to upskill you on these tools. To learn how to take part – check out on our on-demand webinar now.

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