Since eLearning is still so relatively new (a point that is still easily overlooked)—such that, we don’t know what we don’t know—I thought it was important to put together a taxonomy of the different levels that an eLearning teacher could have. This taxonomy would allow me to compare myself to what the ideal talents of such a person could be, so I could plan for my own professional development. Perhaps, for that reason, you may also find it useful. In addition to advanced levels, I also worked back down the levels to those just beginning in eLearning, as I did as online college teacher in the late 1990s, where, admittedly, I was at the lowest level. Since I was doing this reflection for my own professional development, I created this based on my own reflections and experiences. So I have completed little research into existing resources.I also noted two things. The first thing is that the different levels allow not just for increasing quality of eLearning but also increasing control either through the creation of new content or the ability to manipulate existing resources. Thus, for instance, copyright infringement becomes a diminishing concern as eLearning teachers can more and more easily generate original content for themselves. As well, existing resources can be more easily edited and customized to meet an eLearning teacher’s specific need; one does not have to rely solely on a specific image, resource, or activity already existing somewhere. The second thing to be noted is that the knowledge and skills listed do not have to reside in a single individual. It is conceivable, if not more likely, that the talents listed will be spread over an eLearning team. In fact, a large team of individuals with only one talent could equal one “ideal” eLearning teacher. However, back to the issue of control, the more skills and knowledge one possesses, the more control one has. So, for instance, if you moved from a school that had a full-blown eLearning development team to a school that had none, there would be less of an effect on that eLearning teacher’s abilities to produce high-quality eLearning.
Finally, the levels are not absolute. One could easily be between the levels in various ways. And, for the purposes of professional-development planning, you could select just one aspect from a higher level to improve on, perhaps one that complements your school’s existing resources. And, of course, due to the dynamic nature of the industry, the skills and knowledge listed will likely change significantly over the course of a decade. In this first draft of the taxonomy, I will focus primarily on some skills but more on describing the levels. It is fairly high-level at this point. I will add more knowledge and attitudes in upcoming versions, as well as go into more detail about specific skills that can be added for each level. Really, this is the skeletal structure to which I will add the “meat” in the future. This taxonomy is also, I think, primarily focused on the post-secondary environment.