When designing eLearning courses, instructor designers need to do a thorough analysis of their target audience i.e., the learners. The course design largely depends on the type of audiences. Let’s see how the audience profile, age group, educational background, job experience or the learners’ proficiency in using computers influence the course design.
Profile: The profile of the audience provides the main direction to the course. If your audience is senior managers who need to get a quick overview of the product line, the course would be largely knowledge based. However, if the audience is customer relationship executives who need to be trained on the new CRM software, the training program needs to impart both knowledge and skills to the learner. The learner will need to understand the new CRM software as well as learn how to use it. Additionally, the course will need to be interactive, most likely simulating the software environment to keep the learners engaged.
Age: The course design can be formal or informal based on the age of the learners. Young learners may find an informal tone more appealing. For them, the course will have to be visually enriching using lot of animations, images and click-on buttons. They may respond better if assessments are in the form of puzzles or riddles. Senior learners may prefer to focus on content and therefore an instructional designer will need to focus on presenting content effectively.
Educational Background: The language used in the course largely depends on the educational background of the target audience. Let’s take the example of shop floor machine operators who may not be highly educated. They may not be able to assimilate textual content effectively. However, if the content is presented visually, chances are that they will absorb it quickly. If the course objective is to teach the learners to operate the machines correctly and safely, learning objects could include DO’s and DON’Ts of operating the machine through images.
Job Experience: The course design also needs to take into account the years of experience the learners have in the field. If you are providing a course to senior compliance managers to update them about the recent changes in compliance regulations in their specific industry, the course should do just that. The course does not have to cover the basic information about compliance in the organization, which this group of learners are already well-versed with. However, if the course is meant for management trainees who have just joined the industry, they will need to be given a comprehensive understanding about compliance, its relevance and importance for their organization.
Knowledge of Computer Usage: Going back to our earlier example, if the target audiences are shop floor employees who may not be comfortable using computers, the course navigation should be basic and simple. Videos and animations with audio would be most preferable while addressing them. Conversely, the GUI can be more complex and interactive for tech-savvy learners whose job revolves around computers.
These are some of the parameters by which you could judge your audiences’ requirement in relation to the course. It is therefore recommended that you analyze your audience thoroughly before designing a course. It would be interesting to learn about the parameters based on which you analyze your target audience. Do share your viewpoint.