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eLearning: The alternative career choice in IT

Vishwamitra Hariharan
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August 29, 2006

The word IT automatically conjures up images associated with insomniac programmers typing reams of code, BPOs, call centres, night shifts and body clocks gone awry. A closer look, however, will reveal that there's more to this than meets the eye.

Yes, there was a lot of money made out of the IT boom, but a good part of the moolah was restricted to engineers who ruled the roost. Now, the balance of power is beginning to shift towards people possessing softer skills like language, communication and content capabilities. This is leading to fine-arts and English literature graduates increasingly opting for a career in one of the fastest growing segments in the IT sector -- eLearning.

What is eLearning?

ELearning, or electronic learning, refers to education through digital media -- this includes personal computers, CD ROMs, digital television, Personal Data Assistants, mobile phones and the Internet. It has a number of benefits, allowing learners to learn at their own pace, place and convenience.

The IT industry is witnessing a power shift as Indian eLearning companies are demonstrating their capability to develop and cater to content development requirements across the globe. These companies are developing training modules for global clients on diverse topics that may range from how to operate a Boeing aircraft to quality control in hi-tech companies, and imparting soft-skill training to large pharmaceutical companies. The best part is the training can be imparted by people working out of India.

How big is it?

The eLearning industry worldwide is estimated to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 30 per cent. The outsourcing to India is growing at an even more frantic pace of 60-70 per cent, clearly highlighting the career opportunities.

How does one get in?

Those looking for a career in eLearning will do well to keep the following points in mind:

It is not necessary to have a background in IT. eLearning provides opportunities for graduates from other fields too. People with language, communication and content capabilities from Fine Arts and English Literature backgrounds form an important constituent of the employee force. Some of the hottest career profiles in eLearning include visualisers, instructional writers and instructional designers:

. Visualisers conceptualise and develop high-quality graphics appropriate for the content at hand. For those interested in these posts, knowledge of visualisation techniques, design principles and execution methodology is necessary. You should also be aware of the international context and be able apply that. Tests for these positions include aptitude and graphics tests (visualisation test).

. Potential candidates for the post of Instructional Writer should be good with words. They have to create instructional content, should have worked in a writing-related field, should be aware of learning theories and follow processes and standards to develop high-quality, instructionally sound content within an expected time frame. Knowledge of the difference between UK and US English is also essential. For these candidates, there are tests for aptitude and grammar, followed by further tests on punctuation and essay writing. For higher positions, (ie if they have three to four years of experience), there are additional tests on aptitude, grammar and basic instructional design.

. Instructional designers should know instructional design theories and models, and apply them to develop content. They should be able to analyse client requirements, assess learner profiles, and design teaching or learning models tailor-made for a target audience. For junior positions, candidates are tested on aptitude, grammar, punctuation and essay writing. For senior posts, there are tests on aptitude, grammar and basic instructional design.

What about remuneration?

eLearning can be a rewarding profession in more ways than one. Salaries can range from Rs 1.8 lakh per annum for freshers to Rs 5-6 lakh per annum and above for those with four to five years of experience. Salaries also change according to the different profiles like graphic artists, software developers and instructional designers. Those who graduate to managerial or lead roles can draw over Rs 8-10 lakh per annum.

Skill sets required

eLearning companies are looking for people with language capabilities to create and communicate instructionally sound content. They should also have the IQ capability to understand business situations and the requirements of different clients.

Besides software engineers, eLearning companies also look at fine arts graduates for their visualisation teams and English literature graduates for content development teams.

Other benefits

Flexi-timings and liberal holidays that eLearning companies offer can be enticing for a lot of people. Other benefits include laptops and opportunities for travel, besides interactive activities like movie clubs, cultural activities and an informal work atmosphere.

-- The writer is Chief Operating Officer at Hurix Systems, which has clients in the US, EU and the Far East.

Do you currently work in the field of eLearning? Share your tips and experiences




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Number of User Comments: 15




Sub: Re E-learning training course

I would like to know is there any training that I have to take, and if so then please let me know such training centres ...


Posted by Anees Ahmed





Sub: eLearning & IT

IT professionals(software engineers, programmers and the like) could find eLearning software design and development to be interesting. However, it is an applications area and if ...


Posted by Rohit





Sub: Creating an E-learning course can be fun!

It is not quite true, that any lay person can write an E-learning course. You need to have some basic understanding of what you're writing, ...


Posted by Tanya Munshi





Sub: your guidance

I am interested in taking up a career in e learning. I am a commerce graduate and done diploma in Journalism and mass communciation from ...


Posted by meenakshi





Sub: Indeed .. it is a great opportunity

eLearning, indeed is a great opportunity, and we ar at the right juncture to take advantage of the skills available with us.


Posted by gokhale




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