From Teachers to eLearning Designers

Two of my colleagues, Hannah Radant and Lindsay Garcia, have made the transition from k-12 classroom teacher to elearning developer with striking success. They recently spent some time talking with me about what they found transferable from their teaching roles to their current roles, and how they’ve been able to overcome challenges, including the lack of confidence in their ability to do this work.

Introduction 

Brian Washburn: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Train Like You Listen, a weekly podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, I’m your host. And I’m also the Co-founder of a company named Endurance Learning. Coincidentally, we also have two guests today who are also part of Endurance Learning. I’m joined today by Hannah Radant and Lindsay Garcia, two of my colleagues at Endurance Learning, both of whom were once teachers, and today they find themselves in the role of eLearning developers. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about their story and how that came to be.

But before we get into all of that, I do wanna let you know that today’s podcast is brought to you by Soapbox, which is an online tool that you can use for 5 or 10 minutes, and you can take care of 50 or 60% of the work when it comes to developing live, instructor-led training. So basically you go in, you tell the computer how long is your presentation? How many people are going to attend? Is it in-person? Is it virtual? What are your learning objectives? And then boom! Soapbox instantly generates a training plan for you with clusters of training activities that are designed to help you accomplish your learning objectives while engaging your learners. Don’t just listen to me babble on about it though. You should try it out for yourself for free and see how it works for you. Go ahead and visit www.soapboxify.com. Okay.

We have that outta the way. Hannah. Lindsay. Hello!

Hannah Radant: Hi.

Lindsay Garcia: Hi.

Brian Washburn: How are you today?

Hannah Radant: I’m good.

 (ALL CHUCKLING)

Hannah Radant: Sorry. I dunno if I’m supposed to be the one that speaks.

Lindsay Garcia: We don’t wanna talk over each other. So, I’ll just give you a signal, like you, me. 

Six-word Bio

Brian Washburn: Excellent. Perfect. And that works so well on radio. Just kind of nodding and smiling, which is great. I mentioned that you’re both part of Endurance Learning, but why don’t we have you all introduce yourselves with our customary six-word autobiographies first, and then we’ll get into your story a little bit more. But Lindsay, why don’t we start with you? How would you introduce yourself to everybody who is listening with exactly six words?

Lindsay Garcia: Coffee, Evelyn, visual design, read, sleep, repeat. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell.

Brian Washburn: It’s your list– your to-do list on a daily basis. And then repeat.

Lindsay Garcia: What I do from morning to night.

(CHUCKLING)

Brian Washburn: The life of a working parent. Yeah, absolutely. How about Hannah? How would you introduce yourself to the audience in exactly six words?

Hannah Radant: I was sticking with the theme of this podcast. So I said, “Educator to developers, still continuously learning.”

Brian Washburn: I love that because–, and I think that we’re all– when each of you joined the team, you brought a set of expertise that no one person really had. So I think that you may still be learning, and I think that the team is also learning from you and taking a look at some of the things you can create and saying, “Wow! I didn’t know we could do that.” And so we’re getting to put some other stuff into the eLearning, but you obviously didn’t study this in college, per se – you both had career ambitions to be in the world of K-12 education. So I’ll start with you Lindsay. I’d love to hear a little bit more about what brought you from the world of traditional classroom teaching to the world of eLearning.

Making the Transition from Classroom Teaching to eLearning Design

Lindsay Garcia: I was actually a teacher for seven years, elementary, so I got my degree in Elementary Ed. But a few years ago– I’ve always wanted to get my bachelor’s, my master’s, my doctorate- so I’ve always known I’m gonna continue education. So I decided to look within the field of education for my master’s and decided that I might not wanna stay in the classroom the rest of my life. So I looked through their degrees that they offered and instructional design and technology sounded really interesting. It sounded like it could broaden where I work, you know. I didn’t have to stay with the school district. So I actually got my master’s online in instructional design and technology, while I was pregnant and teaching, so I could further. So that’s kind of what opened my eyes to the option of eLearning or corporate learning.

Brian Washburn: Okay. So that’s kind of how you discovered it. How about you, Hannah? What brought you from this dream job of being an educator into this world of eLearning development?

Hannah Radant: I’ve been in education for about the past 15 years, so a little bit longer. And you know, the longer I was in it, the more I was thinking about other options and I knew I wasn’t gonna be in the classroom forever. But I still liked the field of education, so I was always kind of seeking what else was out there, what other things I could use my skills to do. And then when the pandemic hit, I felt like it offered a greater opportunity to look into more tech tools and look into more things that were out there. And so I joined an academy and kind of upscaled from there.

Brian Washburn: And so you took it on yourself. And Lindsay, it sounds like technology was a little bit of your master’s program, but it sounds like you both kind of took it on yourself. Because, Lindsay, you were also part of the academy and our friend, friend of the program, Alexander Salas, runs it.

Lindsay Garcia: Yes.

Brian Washburn: And this wasn’t actually a question that I had thrown out to you in advance, but I’m just kind of curious. What drove you to kind of take it on your own, at your own expense, and learn more about eLearning? I’ll stick with you Hannah for a second, and I’ll go over to Lindsay because I think that’s something that separates people who think, “Oh, I’d love to do that someday,” from people who are like, “I’m gonna make it happen.” And you both made it happen. What was it? Was there like a little voice inside your head that was like, “You gotta do this, it’s time to invest in yourself”? Or what was it that led you to making that investment in yourself?

Going Outside of the Field of Traditional Education to Learn a Different Skill Set

 I feel like I've always been a continuous learner.

Hannah Radant: Well, I feel like I’ve always been a continuous learner, you know, I never like to stay stagnant in what I’m doing. And sometimes there’s a ceiling or a limit to where you can go within the traditional education field, so I think I signed up based on somebody making the suggestion and really benefited from community learning too. That was gonna be my advice later on is to seek out that feedback in community because that’s really helpful when you’re starting out to, you know, have a sounding board and have community when you’re doing something like that.

Brian Washburn: Yeah. How about you, Lindsay? What kind of drove you on your own to learn a different skill set?

Lindsay Garcia: I’ve always been a planner. I knew that I wanted to get as high as I felt comfortable in my education before I started a family. So I actually enrolled, with my husband’s help, in the college before we decided to have a baby. So I was already getting my master’s, so I knew I wanted that so that I could then focus on a child and I’d have that in my pocket. So that was kind of my reasoning. I already knew it was something I wanted to do. It was just the timing was, “I wanna focus on me before I have to focus on a child.”

Brian Washburn: And why don’t we stay with you for a second, Lindsay, and I’d love just to hear a little bit more. You said that you were in the classroom for about seven years – what teaching skills did you find most helpful or most transferable as you transitioned into this world of corporate training? Which is different than elementary ed, right? And, eLearning development, which is different than even training or certainly classroom teaching.

What Teaching Skills Are Most Transferable to the World of Corporate Training?

There's a lot of "with-it-ness" that has to go into teaching, and being responsible and scheduling, and it's almost like project management to a degree.

Lindsay Garcia: It’s so funny because Alex asked me the same question, and at the time, I had just gotten into, you know, L&D and I said nothing. (LAUGHS) Because it was– it’s such a big change when it comes to the skills that you can transfer. But now that I’m really in it, I feel like, you know– teachers I feel like they get a bad rap sometimes. Like teachers there’s a lot of “with-it-ness” that has to go into teaching, and being responsible and scheduling, and it’s almost like project management to a degree – you’re managing all these little people. So I really feel like to be a teacher, you already have to have those strengths – that’s just something that keeps you in education because you’re able to do it and they call it like a “with-it-ness”. And so I feel like I try to bring that to this field now. And, you know, try to manage because, you know, at Endurance Learning, we have all these projects, we’re working on so many different things, and being able to work within a team. Same as in education, being able to work with others and work with children, but now we’re talking about clients. So it’s kind of like just the social aspect of it and just being able to wear a few different hats, I think is helpful from education.

Brian Washburn: Yeah. And Hannah, same question to you – what did you find most helpful or transferable from your skills and experiences in your 15 years of teaching that you were able to bring over into this world of training and eLearning development?

Hannah Radant: That’s funny that Lindsay said project management because I was kind of thinking the same thing. I spent my years in special education, so it’s dealing with students, but also like speech, OT, parents, all of these different stakeholders and tight deadlines, legal deadlines, and making sure that you’re not screwing anything up because it’s an important document. So attention to detail too. And when I was in the classroom, I really liked all the tech tools. Like I did weekly news with my students, so I was doing video editing and just different things like that kind of transfer over to eLearning as well.

Brian Washburn: I’m so fascinated by these answers. You know, I was never a traditional K-12 educator. I did spend some time teaching GED classes at a youth center, and then I did a little bit of student teaching and decided that the classroom actually wasn’t where I wanted to be. But the first thing that comes to my mind in terms of transferable skills is how do you write a lesson plan? And I know that eLearning development is a little bit different from writing lesson plans or you’re writing storyboards and things like that. But being able to figure out what are learning objectives, and how do we design something that goes straight to it? Is something that I found to be most helpful and most transferable for me. Then on the other side of that, there’s tons of challenges. So, Hannah, what were some of the biggest challenges that you faced when you were transitioning from teaching into this world of eLearning development? And then you had people coming to you and saying, “Hey, can you, create some eLearning for us?”

Starting something new is exciting, but also confidence-shaking because you don't know everything and there's all these new terms and things out there that you're trying to learn all at once, and sound like you know what you're doing.

Hannah Radant: For me, I would probably just say confidence in myself. You know, I was in education for a long time, and you get used to routines and you get used to structures and the relationships you’ve built. So it kind of felt like I was closing in on the top of my game there. And so it’s starting something new is exciting, but also confidence-shaking because you don’t know everything and there’s all these new terms and things out there that you’re trying to learn all at once, and sound like you know what you’re doing. So building it a step at a time took me a while, but that was challenging for me.

Brian Washburn: Do you find any satisfaction when you start playing around with something that you weren’t quite sure you knew how to do? Somebody gives you a storyboard that says, “Hey, do this cool interaction.” You’re like, “Ah, okay…” And then you actually get through it, and you’re like, “Wow, I actually did that.” And not only did you do it, but when– I know that when I take a look at what you do, I’m like, “Whoa! I had no idea that we’re able to do that.” Now it’s funny that you mentioned this idea of competence as being a struggle. What goes through your mind when you hear reactions from people being like, “Wow, that is that’s really cool”?

Hannah Radant: Yeah, I really like that part of it. It’s like solving a problem that I’m seeing on paper, like, “How should this look? How should this move the most intuitively for the learner?” So, yeah, it is. It’s nice to get that feedback when I’m like, “I’m not sure if this is working the way I want.” Or even if I’m getting feedback for improvement, I enjoy that part of the process too.

What are the Biggest Challenges When Transitioning from the Classroom to eLearning Development?

Brian Washburn: Lindsay, what did you find to be some of the most challenging pieces for you to make that transition? Especially from an elementary school kind of classroom into eLearning development? Now I know that in the last question I asked, you know, what was transferable and your initial reaction was – nothing. And then you were able to put some distance between you and your classroom experience and realized, “Oh, project management was actually really helpful.” What were some of the things that were the most challenging to you?

In the beginning, for me, a lot of the skills that were mentioned in all the jobs I was looking at, I didn't have them.

Lindsay Garcia: So in the beginning, the biggest challenge, and it does weigh on your confidence at least in the beginning, is you’re trying to apply for a job or find a job where your resume looks, like, really different. So in the beginning, for me, a lot of the skills that were mentioned in all the jobs I was looking at, I didn’t have them. And that’s really what drove me to the academy and got me learning some skills because that I felt was overwhelming, not to have what I needed to get into the field in the first place. And then, once I was in the field, you know, I was in the academy, something Alex did share, you know– he kept telling me, “Get out of your teacher head.” Because it’s true. Enterpri– like going back to your lesson planning and like learning objectives that you were comparing. Yes, education can be the same– there’s same aspects of education, whether you’re in corporate or elementary or anything like that. But there’s also, you know, you’re solving a problem normally in corporate, and to get out of that teacher brain was really hard for me because I would jump into like, “This solution,” and he’d be like, “That wouldn’t work in a corporate environment,” you know? So really just trying to disconnect from what you’re used to and what you’ve been doing for years, and trying to look at education in a different way was a challenge once I got into the field.

Brian Washburn: Yeah, that makes so much sense. It’s one of those things that’s so tempting to be like, “Oh, this is transferable, I guess everything’s transferable.” And if not, there are some things that are transferable and other things that are not. And just shameless plug, we’ve mentioned Alex a few times, we’ve mentioned the academy a few times. If you are listening and you’re interested and thinking, “Oh, that actually sounds pretty cool.” Go ahead and head over to www.LXDlaunch.com and you can find some more information on the academy that both Lindsay and Hannah are talking about. The final question that I have for both of you is what would be one piece of advice that you’d offer to other teachers who are thinking about transitioning into the world of corporate training or even eLearning development? And we’ll go back to you, Lindsay, to kick this one off.

Advice for Those Considering Moving from the Classroom into the Field of Learning & Development

I feel like having a toolbox of different skills is gonna get you pretty far.

Lindsay Garcia: It’s funny, I’ve been asked this question a few times. I still go with the same answer. I feel like having a toolbox of different skills is gonna get you pretty far. And that was what I went for when I joined the academy, I took every class I could. Didn’t matter if it was, you know, editing or enterprise instructional design. It was like, “Hey, I can do that,” or “I can learn that, I’ve taken a class on that.” And it just made a lot of people notice me more on LinkedIn because I was sharing all this different stuff – augmented reality – just saying that I can do some of these things, like I’m open.

Now that I’m, you know, in the field, I feel like it’s important. I’ve had some people come to me on LinkedIn asking my advice. I feel like it’s important to kind of look at eLearning development and what jobs are available because what I do is very different than what some other people do on our team. So some people don’t like development or visual design – that’s not their, you know, forte. Some people love to write. So it’s really knowing that there’s different positions within L&D, and whatever your passion is, you should look into those opportunities and not just assume, “Oh, I’m gonna be an instructional designer.” Because that’s what I thought. And I was– I’m not an instructional designer now, so. (CHUCKLES)

Brian Washburn: Yeah. I love what you have to say there though because a lot of times people take a look at a job description of a job they want and be like, “Oh, I can’t do that. Forget it.” And what I just heard you say, Lindsay, is I took a look at job descriptions and realized I didn’t have those skills and figured out: how could I get those skills? Which I think is a great way to approach it, especially if you’re making the transition from one field to the other. Hannah, how about you? What’s a piece of advice that you might offer to teachers who are looking to transition out of the classroom and into, like, a corporate training or an eLearning development job?

I would say try everything you can. There's so many free trials, so much information out on the internet. And then also, find your community.

Hannah Radant: I would say try everything you can. There’s like so many free trials, so much information out on the internet. And then also, like I said before, find your community, whether it’s in an academy on LinkedIn, just so that you have a sounding board and feedback when you’re making things and creating things or learning new things too.

Brian Washburn: I hope that people who are listening, and especially people who are thinking, “You know what? I think I might want to leave my role as a teacher, but remain in the world of education somehow.” Because I think that the perspective that both of you bring to this I think is gonna be really helpful.

Trivia Challenge

Now we are going to stop the conversation here. We’re going to transition over into a different version of Train Like You Listen trivia. Previously, we’ve just been having people go head-to-head, call their name out when they know the answer, and buzz in. But I was thinking today, we’ll change it up a little bit – we’re actually gonna play a round of Kahoot. For those who have never used Kahoot, you can go over to www.kahoot.it in order to go ahead and get started creating something there. But this is just gonna be a trivia game that we play. So, bear with us for a second as I launch this and then share my screen so that both Hannah and Lindsay can log in and get ready.

 All right. Are you able to see it?

Lindsay Garcia: Yes.

Hannah Radant: Mhm.

Brian Washburn: Perfect. So once you’re in, we’re gonna go ahead and get rolling here with five crazy, tough questions about training trivia.

Lindsay Garcia: Oh no…

Brian Washburn: Probably related to technology and eLearning, since that’s kind of the theme of our conversation here. Looks like Lindsay is in and Hannah is in as well. All right, here we go. Five questions to find out who amongst our eLearning developers is supreme when it comes to Kahoot and Brian’s silly questions. So we’re gonna start with the first question. Each of them you’ll have 10 seconds to answer.

The first question: what is the name of Articulate’s online community that offers all sorts of resources for eLearning developers. Is it eLearning Geek, eLearning Heroes, Articulate Avengers, or Storyline Superheroes?

It looks like we have two people that answered correctly. Let’s see how we did when it comes to scoring. We have a very close game right now. Hannah seemed to have scored that a little bit faster. For those who are listening and who don’t know how Kahoot works – with Kahoot, you get multiple choice questions, and everybody has a chance to answer, which I think is better than just having one person shout out their name and answering so that everybody has to answer. If you get the answer correct, you get points. The faster you answer, the more points you get. And so after this first question, both people got it correct. Hannah has 896 points, which means that she answered just slightly faster than Lindsay who has 882 points.

Onto our next question – there are four more questions. That final question will be worth double the points, so don’t despair, Lindsay. You can make up those 14 points somewhere. All right, next question. True or false: Research has shown that kinesthetic learners score higher in eLearnings that ask them to get out of their seat. Is that true? Or is it false? I am so glad that our team at Endurance Learning got this correct. The answer is false. There is no research that shows that if you actually focus on one particular learning style, that the outcomes will be any different. All right. We had, again, two people get that correct. And let’s take a look at the scores.

Lindsay Garcia: No!

Brian Washburn: Hannah is still on top answering just a little bit faster.

 (ALL CHUCKLING)

Brian Washburn: But on the bright side, everybody has gotten all of these answers correct so far. Our next question, question number three: What company created both SnagIt and Camtasia? Is it Articulate, Adobe, TextSmith, or Sysco? Wow. Our team is on fire.

Lindsay Garcia: I think my internet is slower than Hannah’s. Okay. Or your internet, Brian! (LAUGHING)

Brian Washburn: It might be my internet. You can go ahead and blame me cause my internet is awful. Oh. But we have – we’re three for three. Let’s see if the scores are changing. Lindsay–

Hannah Radant: Lindsay got the fire emoji.

Lindsay Garcia: I’m still not winning!

 (ALL CHUCKLING)

Brian Washburn: According to Kahoot, she has an answer streak of three, but don’t despair! We do have that question for double points, which will be after this one. This is a pen-ultimate question here. This question, question number four: Which of the following is actually the name of a Learning Management System? Is it That’s Amore, I’m Smarter Than You, It’s Learning? I think there’s a fourth one that apparently I didn’t put in there, but so you have a one outta three chance.

It’s Learning is actually the name of a Learning Management System.

Lindsay Garcia: I legit guessed.

Hannah Radant: Me too.

 (ALL CHUCKLING)

Lindsay Garcia: I was like, well, That’s Amore sounds kind of weird and it’s– I’m Smarter Than You is a bit rude, so.

Brian Washburn: It’s learning is actually the name of a Learning Management System. There are so many Learning Management Systems out there. There’s some popular ones, but I thought it would be kind of fun to bring in the name of a less-known Learning Management System. I don’t even know if it’s any good or what the reviews say, but a Google search shows that there is a Learning Management System out there called It’s Learning.

All right. Our final que– well, actually we’re gonna take a look at our scores. We have, oh my goodness!

Lindsay Garcia: Bam! Shabam!

Brian Washburn: We have a– although both people have gotten all four questions correct, Lindsay has now taken the lead at 3,494 points to Hannah’s 3,292. So Lindsay has a lead of 202 points, but no lead is safe on this final question, which will be worth double the points. It is another true/false question.

Here we go. The final question for double the points and the championship: The black Mr. Sketch marker smells like cinnamon. True or false?

It is false! We have a game in which everybody has answered correctly.

Lindsay Garcia: (LAUGHING) Cinnamon…

Brian Washburn: Let’s see how we did here with the final result.

Lindsay Garcia: It’s licorice, isn’t it?

Brian Washburn: On the podium– it is licorice.

(ALL CHUCKLING)

Brian Washburn: We didn’t have a third-place person. In second place, we have Hannah who comes in second.

Lindsay Garcia: So close, Hannah!

Hannah Radant: So close.

Brian Washburn: Lindsay comes in first by a margin of 140– 138 points.

Well, thank you, Lindsay. Thank you, Hannah, for humoring me on a game of Kahoot. And thank you everyone else for listening to today’s episode, which was about folks that are making the switch from teacher to eLearning developer. If you find somebody else who might find this conversation to be interesting or important, go ahead and forward a link of our podcast over to them. If you wanna make sure that you are notified every time there is a new podcast when it’s hot off the press, go ahead and subscribe at Apple or Spotify, wherever you listen to your podcast. Even better is if you could give us a rating, especially a five-star rating. It just takes you one click and it will mean a lot to us – that’s how other people find out about us. If you’re interested in learning more about a broad range of learning and development strategies, including eLearning, you can pick up a copy of my book: What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training at www.amazon.com. And until next time, happy training everyone.


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