First off, being an elearning consultant is a great job! I’ve been doing it in various ways for nearly a decade now, and I love it. But what do I do?
This post was inspired by the well-known elearning blogger Ant Pugh, who I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to a few times. Ant talks about internal verses external elearning consultants. As I have worked as both, I thought I’d discuss that here.
Internal elearning consultant
In my time as an internal elearning consultant, my time was split between several different types of activities:
- Project management – leading on the development of elearning courses, platforms and other related projects.
- Internal marketing – providing consultancy and advice to colleagues in different departments who were responsible for marketing and sometimes selling the products I was developing.
- Internal consultancy – in a large organisation, there are many diverse training needs and I was well-placed to advise on the options and solutions that were available to meet the business needs of colleagues in different departments and different offices around the world – whether those solutions were internally produced or available externally.
- External consultancy – basically helping to sell my products by providing advice to clients on how our solutions met their needs – and listening to them where they didn’t to feed back into product development.
The word ‘consultant’ means many different things – but in principle, it means giving advice – and that was a large thrust of my work as in internal elearning consultant. Ant suggested in his post that there could be a conflict of interest for internal elearning consultants. In my roles, I never found this to be the case – I provided the best advice to my clients – internal or external – to meet their needs. My feeling is that there can potentially be a conflict of interest in any situation – internal or external – when receiving advice of any sort, it’s always important to weigh it up and make your own informed decision.
External elearning consultant
Now that I am running a consultancy business, how has this changed? In my situation, it hasn’t really changed at all – I now provide the same services to my clients as before – I now have a wider range of clients and a different set of solutions to suggest – or provide – but I am still offering the best advice that my many years of experience offer.
What does this cover? These are the main areas I’ve been working on as an external consultant:
- elearning advice – listening to clients’ needs and suggesting how to achieve their learning solutions through LMSs, elearning content, blended learning, or otherwise.
- Conceive, design, build – often clients come to me with an idea, but no way to put that idea into reality. I work with them to flesh out that idea through to a fully-functioning platform to deliver their training. I often manage these projects myself, and for smaller project, I will also act as instructional designer – and have fun getting my hands dirty building courses too.
- Monitoring and evaluation – if you’re investing in elearning, you need to know that it’s working – that’s why Business Analytics is part of elearning consultancy – using market and learner analytics tools as well as other feedback mechanisms, I guide my clients to finding out how effective their training really is – while avoiding ‘vanity metrics’ – numbers that look good on paper, but don’t really mean anything.
- Marketing advice – you may have designed and build the best course ever – but if no one knows about it, it’s not going to do you any good – that’s why marketing – internal and external, B2B, B2C and B2G (business to government) is so important.
Why use an external elearning consultant?
There are a number of reasons why an external consultant might be right for you:
- Scale – maybe your organisation is too small to have its own internal teams or departments – an external consultant can be the first step to bringing things in-house, or can be a longer-term solution if you want to focus on other core business activities.
- Capacity – perhaps your internal elearning teams are stretched to the limit – in that case, bringing in an external consultant can help to cover these periods/projects.
- Knowledge – or it could be that there’s a knowledge gap on your team – you’ve been working in one way, on one platform for a long time – and you see the need to open up the way you work – an external consultant can provide this for you.
How to find a consultant
Speaking to people is usually the first port-of-call – find out who in your network has the skills and experience you need. https://elearningindustry.com and LinkedIn are other great sources – who is posting regularly there with useful content that fits your needs? Next, get in touch for an informal discussion of your needs – that will open the way to a fruitful collaboration with an elearning consultant.
This post first appeared on elearningindustry.com: https://elearningindustry.com/internal-vs-external-elearning-consultant-need-one