Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Big Question

February's Big Question on the Learning Circuits blog is "What is the impact of the economy on you and your organization? What are you doing as a result?" Here is my response:

I am an e-Learning designer at a bank that is currently being acquired by another larger bank (this is how the economy affected my organization).  The acquisition will be complete by June, at which time I will be facing a lay-off. There is a small chance I will be offered a position, but at this time I can only speculate on that possibility. So, What am I doing?

Professional development has always been a priority of mine. This is not optional in the ever changing e-learning world. In the last year I have delved into web 2.0, which I believe has made me far more marketable. With re-entering the job market I have also begun familiarizing myself with the e-learning tools and learning management systems out there that are not part of my current tool set.  My past positions have always allowed me to choose my software (Flash, Dreamweaver, Captivate, etc.), but I want to be prepared to develop in other tools. I am very grateful to 30-day demos. And of course I must adjust to whatever LMS they already have, which I have done several times before.

Here's the rub. I am thinking seriously about doing freelance work. Although I am actively looking for a position, I have thought about options if I do not find "the right" position for me. My alternate plan will be freelance e-learning. Not having the stability of a regular paycheck and no benefits is intimidating, but here are a few things that attract me to it.

  • Flexibility - I currently telecommute from my home office several days a week, which works really well for me. Barring any on-site needs from a client , setting my own hours and working from home is very attractive.

  • Diversity of work experience - My experience has been in both the non-profit and corporate world, but freelancing can increase the diversity of my experience and my portfolio. 

  • Work will not be monotonous - New clients, new audience, new industries and types of content, different LMS's to curse, etc.

  • Earning potential - There will not be any limit to earnings. With a lot of ambition, a little bit of luck and long hours, I can potentially earn more than I would in a corporate training department.

One thing that confuses me is will the economic downturn be a possible boon to e-learning? I am hearing that with tightening budgets many will turn to e-learning, but I have also heard the opposite. I guess time will tell. If you are a freelance e-learning designer/developer, I would definitely appreciate your advice on considerations I should make prior to entering the market, pros and cons, or if I should run as far as I can away from the idea. I have some time to further explore this option. My exploration will include speaking to some local independent e-learning professionals here in the Maryland area and looking closely at the freelance opportunities that are currently available. In the meantime, I will also continue looking for full-time e-learning positions.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff, I addressed many of the questions you pose in a posting yesterday. Having been a trade consultant, I can tell you that while exciting, it does take twice the work to get established as a "company" job would. In addition, it is important that you really plan ahead including work cycles that are feast or famine, infrastructure to streamline administrative processes (such as billing, software acquisition, preparing bids while you are completing work, etc...).


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