What exactly does an E-Learning Manager do?

I read somewhere once that the best employees don’t take any notice of their job descriptions. In other words, they work out what needs to be done and they get on and do it.

This notion resonated with me when a fellow learning professional asked me what I do in my capacity as an E-Learning Manager.

Aerial view of a laptop and other devices.

The thing is, the role of “E-Learning Manager” (ELM) is a grey one. Like “Product Manager” or “Business Analyst”, the nuts & bolts of what you do can vary widely from organisation to organisation – from the code monkey who really should be a software engineer, to the strategic consultant who really should be a politician, to everything and anything in between.

Even within the one role at the one workplace, the breadth of what an ELM might do can be staggering. For example, these are some of the activities that I might do on any given day:

  • Client consulting
  • Training needs analysis
  • Content curation
  • Content mapping
  • Content sourcing
  • Content development
  • Content editing
  • Instructional design
  • Graphic design
  • Multimedia production
  • Courseware development
  • Courseware testing
  • LMS administration
  • Webinar administration
  • Discussion moderation
  • Community management
  • IT helpdesk
  • Training and coaching
  • Vendor management
  • Sales liaison
  • Reporting
  • Data analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Internal marketing
  • Intranet publishing
  • External research
  • Expert advice
  • Strategic planning
  • Irrelevant stuff that is other people’s jobs.

And I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed!

Of course, I don’t do all of this all the time. Ideally I will prioritise; but the reality of business is that the prevailing circumstances will dictate my priorities for me.

How does this stack up with what other e-learning pro’s do?

Are there any budding ELM’s out there who have different expectations of the role?

9 thoughts on “What exactly does an E-Learning Manager do?

  1. It’s a wonder we get any work done at all! I don’t do much around webinars or discussion moderation (yet) but am also responsible for website creation and editing.

  2. Agree that website creation and administration is a job itself, but if you have small eLearning team, you do what you need to do… Would add producing promo videos for the courses as well as coordinating of events streaming, such as conferences and workshops.

  3. Good pickup, Ewa.

    I haven’t had much experience with events streaming myself. (I’ve only assisted someone who knew what they were doing.)

    Having said that, I think that more face-to-face activities should be streamed or at least recorded for playback.

  4. You may want to add Quality Assurance to the list….it’s an ongoing, yet important task that ensures the quality of our eLearning. This is in contrast to Evaluation, which is a broader, higher-level check that programs are meeting goals.

  5. Good list, and helps us reflect on the many “hats” one wears. I’d throw in some degree of “Business analysis”, “Process development”, and “Project Management” to those already mentioned.

  6. To me, the term eLearning Manager implies that you are managing other people,whether they be employees or contractors. Your job as an eLearning Manager is to do what you do well and hire team members to do things that are not your strength or that you cannot possibly get done in time all by yourself.

    I did my keynote on ta similar subject at the Chicago eLearning technology showcase in 2011. I don’t think it’s realistic to have one person who does all this well. And even if you’re superman or superwoman, you probably don’t have the time to do all this well. The best eLearning is created by a team of skilled people who bring their strength to the table and work well together.

    If your organization expects you to do all this by yourself, you need a new job. I realize that times are tough, but they are getting better and you will be happier working in a place where the expectations are more realistic.

  7. Hi Ryan,

    You’ve certainly hit a number of them on the head :). Besides other people’s suggestions, I would also endeavour to add the following:

    Image Editing
    Shooting Video
    Editing Video
    Online Facilitation
    Virtual Classroom content creation
    E – Assessment designer
    Tech Troubleshooter (When IT are busy elsewhere)
    Social Director
    Learning Evangelist

    It’s great to have a team around you that can assist with these things, and is the ideal situation. Unfortunately with most E-Learning Specialists in corporations (not e-learning companies) we are generally a department of one. Multi-tasking and multi-skills and a lot of patience and perseverance become imperative!

    Thanks for a great list Ryan. If any E-Learning Manager/Specialist ever worries about their skill base, all they need to do is look at your list and be relieved (and probably a little amazed) at what they actually do.

  8. Cindi, Paul and Matt – Thanks for your additions, I agree with all of them.

    Bluestreaklearning – What you say about working as a team makes perfect sense. I agree with Matt that “a department of one” is sometimes the business reality (especially in smaller companies), but of course that doesn’t necessarily make it right.

    I have worked both as a department of one and as a people manager, and the point I’d like to add here is that the latter introduces an extra suite of challenges and accountabilities!

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