As an instructional designer, you are advised to conduct an audience analysis before you design any instructional program. You need to understand your learners to be able to effectively communicate with them. How do you think the type of the audience will guide you in course design? It is easy to give important to the content and get absorbed in it while designing an eLearning courses, but we need to remember that it is the audience/ learners who steer the course design and content. Here are some of the implications of audience profiles on course design.
Chalking out the course vision, goals and outcomes: Understanding your audience or learners, helps you to create a vision for your course. You will be able to recognize the goals that the course is expected to achieve. You will be able to identify how the learning is translated by the learners while doing their jobs for better output. For example, if you are designing a course to explain safety procedures in a manufacturing unit, your vision of the course is to help learners realize the importance of following safety procedures and abiding by them at their workplace. The goal would be teach the safety procedures to learners. Once the learners take up the course, they are expected to practice all the safety procedures thereby reducing accidents at workplace. Only when you understand the audience, their work environment and motivation levels, would you be able to design courses that are relevant to them.
Identify the topics to be covered, type of assignments and activities: You need to know the existing skills and knowledge of the learners and the desired outcome. It is only based on this information that you will be able to identify the topics, the assignments and the activities that need to be included in the course. For example, if you are designing a course on Product Training for sales and marketing professionals, it helps to understand their existing knowledge about the products and expectations from the course. If you focus on the product and provide detailed inputs on the product to the sales team, the information may have little relevance when it comes to selling. Therefore, your choice of content will largely depend on who your target audience are.
Finalizing the learning strategy and content presentation: A learning strategy determines the approach you adopt to meet the learning objectives. The profile of your learners will determine the strategy you need to adopt. What is the medium in which the courses would be administered to them? Are they comfortable using computers? Your learner profiles help you decide on how to design the GUI, course navigation and the extent to which you use audio and video in the course. If the audience is not regular computer users and do not read much, it is important to use more visuals and include videos and animations in the course. If the learners need hands-on guidance for a software application, you might want to include a high level of simulations in the course.
Therefore, before you start creating the course design do ensure that you collect adequate information about your target audience. Irrespective of the time constraints, it is a good practice to send a questionnaire to your project manager or the client seeking information about your target learners. This will help you in designing a course that successfully meets the given objectives.