Bela’s Story | The eLearning Designer’s Academy

Bela is a light-skinned Latina with short, dark, curly hair and blue-green eyes. She is smiling with dark lipstick, sitting in a cafe at a desk with a laptop. She's wearing a yellow short-sleeved dress with flowers and her arm tattoos peaking out from the sleeves. On the left is the text: "Bela's Story, The eLearning Designer's Academy" with the academy logo in blue and white.

Bela is a light-skinned Latina with short, dark, curly hair and blue-green eyes. She is smiling with dark lipstick, sitting in a cafe at a desk with a laptop. She’s wearing a yellow short-sleeved dress with flowers and her arm tattoos peaking out from the sleeves. On the left is the text: “Bela’s Story, The eLearning Designer’s Academy” with the academy logo in blue and white.

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My Experience in The eLearning Designer's Academy with Tim Slade

I was recently interviewed by Tim Slade of The eLearning Designer’s Academy about my experience as a student in the program.  I had the joy of hanging out with Tim, and Cara North, too, while they were both in Nashville for ATD’s CORE4 conference!  

I was a bit starstruck… I’m not going to lie!

Photo of Tim Slade, Bela Gaytan, and Cara North. They are all smiling and standing outside Hattie B’s in Nashville, Tennessee.

If you have any questions about the academy, please feel free to reach out to me!  I’ll give you my honest opinion!  Although I am now employed by Tim Slade as the Community and Social Media Manager for The eLearning Designer’s Academy, I was an evangelist for the academy long before being hired!

Below the video is a cleaned-up version of the video transcript. 

Meet Bela!

Hi, I’m Bela Gaytan.  I’m a Learning Specialist and I was based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  (I’m currently in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area and moving to Atlanta in the next few months!)

I have a very diverse background.  I am 45 years old, a single mom to two adult children.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and a Master of Education in Learning and Technology.  I really became interested in learning and development and training as a result of all the educational content that I was producing for the people on my team.  

Falling Into ID and Landing in a Story(line)

I don’t quite remember, but somehow I fell into finding out about instructional design.  I just really fell in love with it.  It really spoke to me.  It felt like it could incorporate my diverse background.  I wanted to use these skills to be able to create learning for folks that was going to be effective, engaging, and enjoyable for learners.  At the same time, I knew that I would also focus heavily on creating diverse and accessible solutions.

When I realized I wanted to get more practical experience than what I felt I’d received in my M.Ed. program, I started looking at different bootcamps and ID programs.  I came across Tim’s program, I believe on LinkedIn, and really felt drawn to his personality.  Also knowing that there’s a community involved in the program and the flexibility really enticed me to join.  I knew right away that it was something that would really cater to me as being a single mom, working full time, and also disabled. 

In researching some of the other programs, the cost was a big factor for me.  There also seemed to be a lack of flexibility in many of them; they seemed very rigid.  Tim’s academy was more of a holistic approach to learning about, eLearning design and instructional design.  Having the flexibility to be able to attend the classes whenever I wanted to and to go at my own pace motivated me to join the academy.

Favorite Aspects of the Academy

Tim and Bela are set against a blue and white background. Above them is the text: "Community Office Hours, The eLearning Designer's Academy". In the upper right are multiple diverse avatars.

Tim and Bela are set against a blue and white background. Above them is the text: “Community Office Hours, The eLearning Designer’s Academy”. In the upper right are multiple diverse avatars.

The thing that I love the most about the program is the community, hands down.  The instructional design, eLearning design, and learning and development community is already fantastic.  But what I feel in this community is so much closer, tight-knit.  I’ve made several friendships with the different people that are in my cohort and even previous cohorts, as well.  

It’s also not just about having Tim’s book in hand. It’s not just listening to Tim talk about “do this” and “do that” to become an instructional designer.  He offers real-world examples.  As you’re learning Articulate Storyline, you are actually going through a project with Tim, step-by-step.  You get to learn the process first and then you go back in and you’re able to put it into practice yourself.  

Another thing that really surprised me about the program was actually Tim himself.  He was always there for us any time that we had questions and he was always very transparent and authentic.  He didn’t gatekeep any of the “secrets” (like salaries) that others like to keep within the instructional design community.

I am constantly recommending The eLearning Designer’s Academy to others when they have seen my success and my passion really grow after going through the program.  I also love being able to tell them about the community aspect of the program.  Explaining to them how attentive Tim is, how helpful he is, how hands-on he is in the program… that is so much different than other programs that are out there.

I'm a Pretty Little Blooming Blossom Now

Time-lapse video of a green cactus with yellow blossoms opening and closing against a dark blue background.

So after going through the academy, professionally I began to notice that I was blossoming.  I no longer carried the “impostor syndrome” about being an instructional designer.  I had the confidence to be able to present my projects to others and be able to accept feedback.  

And, you know, in that I was learning as an instructional designer.  I was learning to better myself in certain ways and learning how to really be able to be an asset to my learners and to other people in the community.

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