Did you ever watch TV with your grandma? If you have, there’s a good chance that you felt like some kind of alien. The murder mysteries your granny likes to watch have been created with old ladies in mind.
If you’re not an old lady, you could find that a lot of it goes right over your head. You might even find that the constant gripes about ‘young people today’ frankly get on your nerves.
That’s only natural – your gran probably wouldn’t like the same things you do. TV execs know that everybody is different and that’s why they take a different approach with every show they make.
As an instructional designer, you need to know who you’re speaking to if you want your training to be a success.
Why you need Learner Analysis
Learner analysis or eLearning audience analysis is an important part of your training program. It gives you the context you need to communicate with your learners in a way that’s appropriate for them. Without this step, you could run the risk of insulting the learners’ intelligence or, worse still, assuming an expertise that’s far above their competencies.
The first thing you need to consider is the goal of the training. What is it that your learners should be able to do after taking the training? Your learners’ needs will dictate the approach you need to take in order to reach this training goal.
Much of the data you’ll need for your learner analysis will come from your training needs analysis. If you’ve been thorough, you’ll already know what training has worked in the past and how your audience reacted to it.
What’s that? You haven’t analysed your training needs yet? Check out these two articles for some top tips!
Who are your learners?
So, you’ve got a fairly good picture of previous training initiatives – now you need a good overall picture of who makes up your audience.
What is the age of the average learner? Are they male or female? It’s also helpful to know their cultural and educational background as this will give you a good indication of their level of understanding. (Also, if you’re the kind of ID who likes to add humour to your courses, you’ll know which jokes are likely to fall flat!)
How will they learn?
The next thing you need to do is to step into your time machine, and travel forward to the point where your learners are taking the training.
Are they likely to take an hour out to work through an in-depth unit?
Maybe the nature of their job means that they’ll only be able to absorb bitesize units whenever they have a little spare time.
You’ll also need to get a good idea of their level of technical expertise. If you’re delivering the learning content online, will they have the requisite IT-lore to access it and understand how it works?
If not, you might consider including a brief tutorial at the beginning of the course that describes the basic functionality.
How to find out more about your learners
As you can see, there are a few things that you need to consider, but how are you going to find the information you need? If it’s possible, the most obvious (and probably most helpful) solution is to meet with the learners themselves and observe them at work.
It’s also a good idea to have a chat with the relevant managers – they’ll have the best overview of the learners within their team. You could also try inviting the learners to an online survey. There are a few online services that’ll let you do this, but if you’ve got access to a really good online learning platform, it should have a survey functionality.
Engagement is everything!
The most important thing you need to remember is that engagement is everything. Without engagement, your training program will have precisely zero effect on your learners’ habits. If your learner analysis tells you that your learners won’t respond to a boring, click-through slideshow, then you’d be a fool to include one in your training.
Instead, why not give them something they’ll enjoy? With Genie, you can create game-based eLearning units that turn your training content into a whole new kind of learning experience.
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All you need to do is click the link, pop in a couple of details and sign up for 30 days of game-based authoring hijinks!