How to identify target learner characteristics
When developing an e-learning resource for a client, it’s essential that you understand the participants who are likely to engage with the material on the other end (i.e. the target learner) so you can create a learning solution that meets their needs.
In this article we discuss how to paint a picture of the target learner, so you can create a resource with the right impact.
Step 1: Narrow down the audience
The e-learning resource you’re building isn’t going to be for everyone (nor is it meant to be). It’s important to work out what kind of people the material is meant for, so you can pinpoint a specific audience to cater to.
You can narrow down the audience using demographics such as:
- education level
- skills levels
You can also break things down by groups, such as:
- school or university students
- apprentices and trainees
- small business owners
- school leavers and those who are new to the workforce
- individuals wanting to improve their skills
- unemployed people
- new residences of a country.
Identifying the target audience of the e-learning resource is an invaluable task that will form the basis of your decision-making and keep your project on track.
Step 2: Dig a little deeper
Once you’ve got a basic profile of the target audience, you can seek out additional information on the intended learners to truly design and develop an effective learning solution. The kind of details you want to gather at this stage include background, technological ability, preferred methods of learning, schedules/time constraints, etc.
Your client may supply this information in their discussions with you or you may have to ask the target audience directly to get the answers you’re after. How easy getting this information is will depend on how closely your client is connected with the intended learning group. For example, if the client is the manager of a business and requires the resource for their employees, it should be fairly simple; however, if an educational institute is developing the resource and is intending to circulate it to a wider pool of learners, it may prove a little more difficult. In this instance, they may not be able to give you first-hand information and instead obtain it from secondary sources such as enrolment information or questionnaires that have been completed by potential students.
Types of learners
As mentioned above, it’s important to consider people’s preferred methods of learning when creating an e-learning resource. This is because everyone absorbs and retains information differently and therefore has different learning styles.
The main types of learning styles include:
- visual: taking in information spatially and with images and videos
- kinaesthetic: physically carrying out an activity
- aural (auditory-musical): listening to information
- social (interpersonal): communicating with others both verbally or nonverbally
- solitary (intrapersonal): focusing on your thoughts and feelings without the distraction of others
- verbal (linguistic): a blend of speaking and writing
- logical (mathematical): recognising patterns and connecting concepts
The way people learn doesn’t stop there though. People also:
- learn at different paces
- have different reasons for learning
- are motivated in different ways and by different things
- respond differently to challenges presented in learning programs.
Knowing the ins and outs of how your target audience likes to learn will ultimately help you make something meaningful for them.
Before developing an e-learning resource, it’s important to do the necessary research and be across the characteristics of the intended audience so you know what makes them tick. By doing this, you can ultimately develop a learning solution that makes sense for them and helps them achieve their learning objectives.