2.3 - That's Portfolio Tips!



Instructional designer and founder of Teaching: A Path to L&D, Sara Stevick, joins me to talk about building a portfolio. Sara shares why a portfolio is important, how to come up with ideas for portfolio samples, and what you should be demonstrating to prospective clients or employers.


Join the Linkedin group "Teaching: A Path to L&D".


Connect with Sara on Linkedin.

 

The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain spelling errors or typos.


Leslie Early

Okay, today I have Sara Stevick Joining me. Sara is an instructional designer and the founder of Teaching: a Path to Learning and Development. And today we are going to talk about how to come up with project ideas for your ID portfolio. Sarah, it's so great to see you again, and to have you back in season two. Thank you.


Sara Stevick

Likewise, thanks for having me back. And so excited to be here and chat with you about portfolios.


Leslie Early

Ooh, love talking about portfolios. Um, so I guess, first of all, would you like to take a moment or two to introduce yourself to listeners who may not be familiar with you? And maybe this is a big ask, so share what you would like, but you can share what you've been up to since the last time we spoke, you know, only a year so you know, it's fine.


Sara Stevick

You know, much happens in that time. But um, yeah, sure. So I'm, like I said, Sara Stevick. I am the founder of the group Teaching: Path to L&D. And we are on LinkedIn, we help teachers transition into the learning and development, specifically instructional design space. So over the last year just been, you know, connecting with a lot of people mentoring and just trying to help out and provide support wherever we can, and making lots of connections, doing lots of work at work, you know, so living the life dream, living the life.


Leslie Early

Yeah, in the middle of a global pandemics. Oh, yeah. True. Yes. All of us. Um, so let's see. So today, we are going to be jumping into some portfolio advice. And I feel like this is something that most people wherever they are in their journey, can learn from an ask about, like, I get questions about this from people who are transitioning into instructional design, I get people who've been in instructional design, and they want to update their portfolio, or they've just been working the whole time and never had time to put a portfolio together. So I think this is a pretty good topic for anybody who's like across the board thinking about building a portfolio. But specifically, one of the big questions is, how the heck do you come up with any ideas for what to put in your portfolio that's not covered by like a nondisclosure agreement?


Sara Stevick

That is a great question. And I do get this question quite a bit in the mentoring that I encountered. So a portfolio is a working document, it is meant to be a representation of your current ability in instructional design. So it is something that you do want to keep up with, even if you are in a instructional design role currently. Because that is kind of one of the ways that you express your professional presence and your capabilities as an instructional designer. So this comes up all the time. I see it on so many forums. People always say, what's the most important thing when trying to become an instructional designer? And I see the same response? And the answer is, you have to have a portfolio, learn the tools, make a portfolio, learn the tools, make a portfolio. And I think that is true in a sense. But I do want to take a moment to really emphasize that the reason a portfolio is an effective representation of your skill set, is because it's not just meant to show a final product. It's meant to show your design thinking your process, why you chose certain design choices, why you included an activity here, it can also show how you conducted your analysis or feedback or iterations that you've made. I think it's very beneficial to really broaden the definition of a portfolio here, because this is your opportunity to really shine and show not just a finished product, but the entire process that you went through. So to your question,


Leslie Early

No, but it's all true. Thank you. Yes, thank you for laying it all out. Because I am over here nodding very enthusiastically like yes, this is all true.


Sara Stevick

Yeah, so you know, you're, you're putting all of that knowledge to execution in your portfolio. So this is where you show that you know, instructional design theories. This is where you show that you know, graphic design principles. This is where you show you are able to design for adults learners that address a specific need. And it's just meat, no potatoes kind of thing, you know? So ideas, right? You get this advice, okay, I need to make a portfolio. And then you're like, your mind goes completely blank. Even if you make stuff all the time out in the world, you know, you create, create, create. And what I really like to do is I step back, and I take a look at the world I'm experienced around me. So when I'm out at the grocery store, or when I'm in interactions with individuals, or if I'm at work, or whatever I'm doing, I look for areas of opportunity that I could improve. Because what is the point of a training, the point of a training is to solve for a skill deficiency, especially in the corporate world. If you're a teacher out there, and you're transitioning, there's definitely a difference between learning for knowledge that we give to our students and learning to really instill a behavioral change to improve what we call KPIs, right? Or ROIs. So we really want to make sure that we're solving for a problem. Now, what are these problems? Right? This could be something such as you're walking into the grocery store, and you notice the shelves aren't stocked, right? You could create a training on how to stock shelves, you could also maybe really break down that problem. As far as like, why is this occurring? And maybe even ask, you know, you could ask the manager, you could ask the person stocking the shelves, like what kind of skills do you wish that they had taught you? Where do you feel like you would really benefit from additional training? Or, you know, put out surveys and ask, where do you notice your employees really needing some additional support. And that's going to start the ball rolling. There's also websites out there, go design, design, something co Christie Tucker has an excellent list of ideas, you could also try and, you know, go broader than that everybody has onboarding training, you could come up with a fictitious company that you develop branding for, and you say, Okay, well, when they have to come into the company, they should be aware of the values, and how can we really instill those values. So that's another approach. Or you can think about your own personal experiences. I know, as a teacher, we've all been the very fortunate recipient multiple times have the ever enthusiastic blood borne pathogens training. And training doesn't have to be like that. And this is your opportunity to show them. So that's a great way to start coming up with ideas.


Leslie Early

Yeah, I think going out into the world or thinking, thinking of a problem that you've experienced personally, and thinking about, like, how could we solve this is a good place to start, I did something very similar. And it's still in my portfolio, although I probably should update my portfolio with new things now. But um, you know, one of the first things that I put in my portfolio was a training an imaginary training for pet owners, because I at that time, my dog went through a surgery. And like, I had no idea how to really take care of her while she was completely debilitated for several weeks. And so I was like, I had to scour the internet to find information, you know. And so I was like, I wish my vet had packaged something together, that I could look at and learn from and so I'm not up at you know, one in the morning, stressing out like, is this normal? Like what to expect? You know, like, why, and I have to givean idea. Yeah, I forget what we called it. It was like something, something for pet owners. This is terrible that I can't remember the name of it. But yeah, but that was it. It was like an imaginary solution to a real world problem that I had experienced similar to like what you're describing in the grocery store, like if you're like noticing, hey, this is a real world problem. And I'm sure with a little bit of training, we could make this a lot easier on people. Yeah.


Sara Stevick

And like, there's that snowball just keeps running with that, right? Like, you can think about customer service that you've experienced. You're like, Man, I wish this person would just listen to me. Well, maybe they don't have the skills. How can they get the skills? Hmm, okay, so that, you know, anytime that you come up against something, I always, I always have a notepad in my phone running of ideas. Oh, so yeah, so like when I, when I encounter like, gosh, this really has an area of opportunity to maybe provide some training on and help provide a better experience for everyone, I write it down. So that's definitely a great way to go about it, I would say you should consider your your audience. So what type of company that you're looking for? I think it's good to have really solid pieces that, you know, are not too long, but that you can extrapolate on as far as, what was your design thinking? How did you go about the process, you know, like we discussed before. So you know, think about what type of company you want to work for, and maybe even solve for one of their problems. And portfolio pieces can be an elearning, they can be a video and instructional video, could be a job aid, it could be an instructor guide, or user guide. There's lots of different things that as instructional designers that we put out, to really help facilitate and reinforce behavioural change. So when we're designing for a portfolio, really think about how can I make this as real as possible? So you can set it up in a scenario, you know, you can introduce the topic and create buy in right off the bat. Media has been doing this for years, right? They tap into that visceral part of us. That is, oh, I'm interested in this because it affects me. And so I'm going to pay attention because this is useful. And it's it's important to think about your audience and do some empathy mapping, like, have a clear picture in your mind, like who is this training for? Right. So from there, you really want to show, it doesn't have to be a big long course I see a lot of individuals go about this as like, I have to build a whole lot. And it'll be like an hour long course, recruiters, hiring managers looking at our portfolio are not going to sit through an hour long. No. So pick one objective, build out that objective. And then have documents that show the planning of the full course and how you would go about the rest of it. Also, after you create your portfolio piece, go ahead and put it out and get gather feedback, create a learning survey for it. And then use that survey information to make iterations to your design. So make changes for the good. And then just say that, yeah, show those changes over time and support it with that learner experience.


Leslie Early

I've seen that I don't have any that type of showing that iteration in my portfolio, but I have seen other people do it. And specifically, I saw one person do it, where she had the she actually showed three, separate three or four iterations of it, and the very first one, and then she got peer feedback. And then she even did an iteration where she was interviewing with a specific company. And she must have known she was interviewing with them, or is going into an interview with them. Because with that same exact portfolio piece, she then iterated again, and rebranded it for that company that she was interviewing with. So it was like in her portfolio is like, here's what I would make specifically for you and what it would look like and how it would apply to you. And I was like, that's really smart. Really smart.


Sara Stevick

Yes, that is exactly what I'm talking about. Because you're showing your range, and you're showing that you are flexible and adapting to learner needs. Versus we always want to keep in mind that we're not designing for us, we're designing for someone else. Yeah.


Leslie Early

Yeah. So I mean, I guess sort of To recap, a lot of what we were talking about was try to try to find some real world problems to solve. And try to make it as experiential as you pop. I mean, as you can write in elearning. And, and, yeah, think about, use some empathy and think about, you know, what, what is the problem you're trying to solve, and how is it relevant to your learner? And I think that's going to demonstrate a lot more so than Just showing, hey, I know how to use storyline or I know how to use rice or whatever the case may be, or I know how to use Camtasia and make a video. But more so I know how to make this engaging, and I know how to make this feel like it's solving a real problem that's relevant to somebody somebody out there, you know, maybe not necessarily relevant to me or the person reviewing my portfolio. But it's, it's relevant to someone. And that's, that's easy to to imagine or.


Sara Stevick

Absolutely, I really think you captured it really well. And I think it's important to really address the fact that learning a tool, and being able to put slides together is not instructional design. Instructional design is being able to use tools to create meaningful and effective learning experiences that drive behavioral changes and make an impact. So when you're designing truly think, is this designing for learning? Or is this a slide deck that anybody could put together? I think there's a lot of people moving into the field nowadays. And the tools themselves are not enough. The theories themselves are not enough, the like going through a program or a Academy. It's not enough. It's putting the knowledge, the tools together in practical application, and demonstrating that you can design effective learning experiences. And whether you do that through free learning on your own. Everybody is very capable of self learning. And using critical thinking you do not have to go through a program or a degree to get that experience. But if you choose to, that's completely fine, too. You know, some people prefer the structure of that. But one is not necessarily better than the other. It's not a program that makes you an instructional designer. It's not the knowledge that makes you an instructional designer. It's how you apply it. And that's what's important to remember, as you transition into instructional design, if you're on that journey.


Leslie Early

Yeah, I agree. Definitely, you have to have a little bit of everything and make it all work together. For sure. I feel like we could talk about portfolio design for quite a long time, more time than we have time for right now. But it was so lovely talking to you again, Sarah, and hearing all of your tips and tricks and advice on this. And if listeners would like to connect with you, you know, you you obviously have a lot of knowledge about this. What's what's the best place to connect with you?


Sara Stevick

Yeah, happy to connect, I'm on LinkedIn, you can look me up there. Also, if you would like to do a meet and greet, or you would like some feedback on a portfolio piece or on your portfolio itself or resume, you can always sign up with one of TPL these free mentors, we have 30 Minute Mentor sessions, on our website at WWW dot teach learn Dev D V, dot org.


Leslie Early

Awesome. And that is such a wonderful resource. And I I'm like when you first told me about this, and like that you've kept it going this long, and it continues to grow. It's really amazing. And I've had the opportunity to chat with people and mentor people and look at their portfolios. And it's just been, it was it's really rewarding as well. So yeah, we love


Sara Stevick

having as a mentor, I can't tell you like it's all volunteer base. And everybody just dives in and gives it their all with heart and support. And we're here to just really change lives. And not just the people who are coming through it, but our volunteers lives are changed as well. So I'm so thankful for the time that you donate.


Leslie Early

Thank you, volunteers. i Yeah, it's a very rewarding like you're absolutely right. It does it really. It's just as I feel like just as beneficial. Probably I can only speak for myself, but just as beneficial for the people who are who are volunteering as probably for the people who are asking for the advice. I think it's a it's a win win in my mind.


Sara Stevick

Yeah, mine too.


Leslie Early

Awesome. Well, thanks again, Sarah, and I hope you have a lovely rest of your evening.


Sara Stevick

Thank you. Thanks for having me. Have a great day, everyone.