#271 eLearning

An introduction to my blog

My name is Barb Roland and I’m an Instructional Designer in the Central Ohio area. I’m going to use this blog to document some of my portfolio projects. Hopefully it will capture my journey as I transition into a different phase of my career.

Here’s a little background on me: between 2000 and 2013 I worked at American Electric Power in Columbus Ohio in their Distribution Technical Training department designing their training materials. They train line mechanics, underground network mechanics, and meter electricians. Their programs are four-year apprenticeships for the workers who build and repair utility equipment. They climb poles, use bucket trucks, crawl into underground vaults and need to have technical knowledge about how to work on their equipment. These four-year programs consist of learning guides, PowerPoint presentations, web-based training, hands-on field training, and testing. My job was to write or update their material and make their material available on the company’s Learning Management System and their intranet site. My goal was to push the trainers to embrace web-based technologies whenever it was practical to do so.

During my time at American Electric Power, I managed to finish a long-overdue Bachelor degree at Franklin University. I majored in Digital Communication, something that I hoped would help me figure out what I wanted to do with my career. I had been an Administrative Assistant for many years, but always found that I was getting involved in graphic design, database building, learning management systems, and computer based learning. I was usually the “office geek” who was unafraid of learning new systems and exploring new technologies. I had studied at Kent State University in their graphic design department when I was much younger and always felt drawn to learning, writing, and art. So, it was a natural transition for me to get into Digital Communications. At the time, there was no program for Instructional Designers and I had never even heard of this as a career choice. After I had my degree, I approached my manager to promote me to a Technical Writer position, a position I figured was as close as I could get to describing what I was doing at the time. He agreed and I got my dream job. I got to work on a variety of projects and dove into our company’s learning community, where I learned about Articulate Studio and other elearning tools. I quickly learned that I was an Instructional Designer and my career came into focus.

Student in bucket truck grounding a line
Student in bucket truck grounding a line

The electrical industry is going through a lot of changes these days, and American Electric Power is no different. The company went through a re-organization at the beginning of 2013 and unfortunately my position was affected. But, I’m grateful I had the chance to discover that my passion was instructional design while I was in that position. I feel that I have a lot more focus about my career path now. So now, I’m in the process of putting together some projects that anyone can see online that show what I can do as a designer.

My plan is to post some details about each project I put together with each blog post. I may even post a bit about the process of transitioning from the corporate world as an employee to a contractor. It may be a bumpy ride, but I’m looking forward to what happens!