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A job like mine T

he E-Learning Awards Designer of the Year 2014 has got a new role. As a learning designer Sam Yates is involved at the start of the project;

from the kick off meetings right through to the delivery. “I work with the client to come up with their vision for the course, liaising with the creative teams to ensure what is built matches the brief and ensuring the learning objectives are in there and keeping the client vision.” That involves detailed work on script writing,

story boarding and reviewing. Yates’ employer Unicorn is currently exploring the job roles of learning designer (LD) and instructional designer (ID). Traditionally the ID would be heavily involved in the script writing and apart from a few reviews, would not be involved in the other parts of the process. “The idea of the LD is to try and have continuity throughout the whole process. It is still a team effort but I am now definitely in a client facing role.” Freelancers may say they have been doing such a role for a long time but within an organisation it is a less familiar concept. It is a new role for Yates but one which builds on her experience of ID and more.

“Having written the content you know the content inside out and you can help with the tweaks to make sure it fits with the brief, so as LDs we’re best placed to talk to the client. They know what they want and we know we can do.” Yates does say that the new role of LD will help

to alleviate some of the traditional challenges of any project with multiple stakeholders. “By providing a direct link between the client and the creative team,

Sam Yates: bridging the gap

things are less likely to get lost in translation, and we can manage their expectations by guiding them through step by step.”

The best bit about the role, says Yates, is being

allowed to be a bit of a geek. “I love it. I can play with different bits of software and explore subjects I wouldn’t normally look at.” Perhaps more seriously, she adds, it is working with creative people on the Unicorn team that keeps her driven. And the worst bit? “It can get a bit crazy with deadlines but you get that with every job.” Not sure whether this is good or bad but Yates

E-learning is certainly where I am meant to be. I love the creativity and the writing and I still do bits of face to face when visiting clients and doing workshops. So I have the best of both worlds.


says that some projects do completely take over your brain when you get involved in writing the scripts. She describes winning the E-Learning Award as still overwhelming (the prize was handed out in early November 2014) and an honour, mostly because she feels she has only “been in the industry five minutes. I read the submission and I thought ‘Is that me?’”. It is not quite five minutes: Yates has been with Unicorn for just over two years; prior to joining the Bournemouth-based company she was with a housing association in its learning and development team. It was there that she discovered e-learning. “I found that you could bridge that gap between what organisations were forcing people to learn and what they wanted to learn. You could create something that was quite exciting.” In every role

Every month Peter Williams talks to someone carving out a career in e-learning. This month he talks to Unicorn Training’s learning designer Sam Yates

she has held there has always been an aspect of working in training. At one point she had a choice: go to e-learning or head to the world of face-to-face training. “E-learning is certainly where I am meant to be. I love the creativity and the writing and I still do bits of face to face when visiting clients and doing workshops. So I have the best of both worlds.” It all started when Yates worked in a sales role for a recruitment company which was devoid of any training policy or indeed any training. In exchange for putting Yates through the Certificate in Training Practice, the company got its training. And the sales training and negotiation skills she learned at that time still come in handy. Although acknowledging that this is a competitive industry, Yates says she loves the fact that people want to share what they are doing and the resources they are using. “You don’t get that in many industries, it’s a lovely community feel.”

The low down

n Enjoys being with Unicorn pushing the boundaries of e-learning and seeing what is coming next

n Looking forward to working with games studio Amuzo which has a tie up with Unicorn

n Wants to expand into different areas (she has done a lot of work in compliance and data protection) such as charity projects where she has created an award winning (there is a pattern here) Global Giveback course for Last Mile Learning and The Nature Conservancy titled Influencing Without Authority....

n Oh and not to forget winner of the 2014 E-Learning Awards Learning Designer of the Year.

e.learning age april 2015

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