Step 2: How To Improve Your Skills

Once I had figured out why, how, and what I wanted to do, I totally committed myself to growing my e-learning skills. Perhaps some of you might balk at pledging everything to a pursuit—but I want to tell you why, in the long run, it was key to my goal of growing my e-learning business.

Let me back up to where we left off. After 2 years of dabbling with my students’ lessons, I decided to resign from my job to pursue e-learning full-time. I had a small income and was prepared to live off my savings. A large gamble, yes, but also necessary to make me focus all of my efforts on this—and on me.

Seek Opportunities For Experience

I was fortunate to connect with Koen Sevenants, founder of a nonprofit organization called Morning Tears. Since 1998, Morning Tears has worked in China to help the vulnerable children of incarcerated adults grow up with more opportunities and dignity. The organization incorporates a network of services and resources for volunteers to reach these children across the country.

The trouble was: China is huge, and the organization only offered in-person training to their staff, which meant that volunteers had to travel hours, sometimes even days, to participate. Both Koen and I thought that offering Morning Tears’ training as e-learning would drastically improve people’s access to the organization. And for me…a chance to get real-life project experience. So, without hesitation, I volunteered my services—for free!

Engage and Share

Over the next 18 months, I worked both at home in the Netherlands and on location with the Chinese trainers from Morning Tears to transform their in-person volunteer training into e-learning. And I’ll be the first to tell you: it was a ton of work.

I had so many ideas for how the training should look and feel and function, and I had to figure out how to create them in Articulate. I also needed to educate the Morning Tears team about e-learning, show them how and why and when it was most effective, and even tackle the technical aspects of how to distribute and deploy the training. I needed to persuasively share my ideas about e-learning with people who believed in it, as well as those who were unsure about it.

I worked with Paul in various projects in the humanitarian field. I would like to recommend Paul mainly for 3 reasons: (1) His insights in creation powerful learning environments in e-learning settings are impressive. he has the capacity to turn complicated content into a visual and easy-digestable mode. (2) At several moments he was incorporated in our teams as a advizory consultant. This turned out to be a very good investment. The combination of his communication skilss and his technical knowlegde were instrumental in generating the change we envisioned. (3) he is passionate about what he does. And that makes a world of difference.

Koen Sevenants – Founder of Morning Tears – International Consultant for MHPSS – Mental Health and Psychosocial Support / Protection

It was maddening, challenging, and, ultimately, deeply satisfying. We ended up creating a robust training course that broke a huge logistical barrier to help make a difference for a lot of children worldwide. Our work also gave Morning Tears a template for any future training material they wanted to create for the Chinese market. In addition to my personal satisfaction from helping the Morning Tears organization, I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to grow my professional skills with this e-learning project.

So, if you’re considering taking on an unpaid gig to hone your experience: do it! Even though you’re not getting paid, what you’re doing is investing in yourself, acquiring the experience and skills you’ll need to become a professional, while making a difference for an organization. It’s a win-win!

Come back soon to read my next step in how I grew my business—Step 3: Skills, Feedback, and Mentoring.

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