The one skill that makes a successful eLearning developer

Head of Learning at Omniplex | 08/11/2016

In a previous role, I was responsible for a software development team which contained many different and varying characters.

In the team, there were two particular computer programmers who were quite diverse characters. Programmer one was technically brilliant; very intelligent and could program pretty well anything. Programmer two was good but not quite as outstanding as the first programmer...

Programmer one produced applications which were a technical tour de force; they had some great technical features and completely logical structures.

However, ultimately, users didn’t like using his applications. Programmer two, on the other hand, produced applications which users loved – which worked the way they wanted and did what they wanted to do.

So what was the one skill which made programmer two produce better applications?

The answer is “empathy” or, as some call it, “emotional intelligence.”

Programmer two had an instinctive understanding of the people who would be using his applications. He could imagine himself in their shoes and produced designs and features which fitted the way they wanted to work. He could empathize with his users and targeted his development to their needs.

Programmer two, on the other hand, based his designs on a set of indisputably logical decisions and a desire to display technical excellence. The results were applications which were technically very clever, but left users cold.

So when we are looking for the one skill that makes a successful eLearning developer, I would say that the most important skill is also empathy; that ability to put yourself in the mind of your learners and appreciate the challenges and anxieties that they feel. When designing a screen or interaction, the empathetic eLearning developer will make the decision which suits the learner, rather than the decision which may be a technically clever or demonstrates a particularly whizzy feature.

Rapid development tools like Articulate Storyline 2 make it easy to produce attractive, stimulating eLearning courses. Storyline 2 has great depths of functionality including branching, conditions and variables.

As an Articulate certified trainer, we have trained hundreds of students how to use Storyline so we know that any reasonably IT literate person can be shown how to operate the software.  Rather than concentrating on mastering the depths of every single technical nook and cranny, successful Storyline developers focus on understanding the learner when deploying the fantastic array of features that Storyline offers. They recognize that sometimes, less is more.

Learners come in all shapes and sizes and learn in many different ways.  The one skill that makes a eLearning developer successful is the empathy to deliver exactly what each of those groups of learners really need.

Want to find out more about how to create the perfect eLearning content development team? Read our blog 'How do I develop my content development team?' to find out what our Head of Production thinks. 

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