No matter how good the strategy and visual elements in an eLearning course are, it might still fall short if it doesn’t address the core questions that any adult learner has: What’s in it for me? Why should I spend my time on this eLearning course when I have a pile of work to get done with?
Identifying the core learning needs of your employees is integral to developing a successful eLearning course. Regardless of how tedious the process of analyzing your target audience may sound, everything will pay off when it comes to creating a relevant and effective eLearning experience.
Here’s a quick look at the top 10 questions about your target audience your eLearning vendor will pose, and why knowing their answers can make a huge difference in making the course learner-centric.
1. How old are they?
Knowing the age group of your employees will help your eLearning vendor decide the visual strategy and the instruction tone to be followed throughout the eLearning course. For instance, an informal tone of instruction can appeal to younger employees, but it might not go down well with experienced employees. Similarly, using cartoon characters as avatars can put off older employees.
2. What is their educational background?
Your employees’ educational background will be a major determinant in understanding their knowledge and communication levels. Anticipate questions such as ‘Are they new hires, shop floor workers, or management employees?’, ‘Do they understand professional jargon?’, ‘Should content be simpler and more straightforward?’
Determining the answers to these questions will help develop a course that is learner-centric as opposed to designing a course that is too simple or too complicated, and motivates them to learn.
3. What is their current level of proficiency in the subject matter?
The next important thing is to analyze employees’ current level of proficiency in the subject matter. For instance, if an employee is experienced, going through the basics can be frustrating as opposed to his expectation to learn about a new topic. Similarly, employees who are new to the subject should be taught the basics first.
4. What is the learners’ English language competency?
When the eLearning vendor understands the English competency level of your employees, it helps them choose the right words for the content in the online training. For instance, employees who moderately use English might find it difficult to understand idioms that will resonate well with regular speakers.
5. What are their cultural backgrounds?
Understanding employees’ cultural backgrounds is important while designing, to ensure the usage of appropriate instructions, visuals, color, symbols, tone etc., in your custom eLearning course. Taking the example of color, white is a symbol of peace in western countries whereas it implies mourning in China, Korea and some other Asian countries. Hence, knowing their cultural background helps in creating culturally appropriate eLearning content.
6. What are their primary goals of taking the course?
One of the most crucial parts of analyzing the target audience is to evaluate what your employees hope to take away from the online course. This allows the vendor to decide which content must be included, and how to present it in a meaningful and effective way.
For example, if employees are hoping to learn about customer care techniques, including interactive scenarios will enable employees to experience real-life simulations even before they venture onto the actual sales floor.
7. What is the learners’ experience level with e-learning?
When the eLearning vendor is informed about your employees’ prior experience with eLearning, it helps them design the course with appropriate instructions. For instance, those who have prior eLearning experience might not like being given instructions as they navigate through the course whereas employees who are new to online learning might prefer to be directed.
Instead of using interactivities such as sorting activity or branching scenarios (that might be complex), novice learners should be given simple interactions such as slide shows or single/multi select questions.
8. What is the gender and ethnic composition?
Being informed of the gender and ethnic composition of the target audience helps in rendering content that is inclusive of all considerations and doesn’t ostracize anybody. For instance, if the online course on workplace dress ethics shows pictures of only women, it might seem rules are exclusively for women employees, which might offend them. Also, it should be ensured the words and examples used are culturally appropriate to avoid offending anyone’s sentiments.
9. What skillsets do they need to acquire?
Determining the skillsets or information that needs to be acquired by the employees from the online course is a vital element of audience analysis. For instance, if the eLearning course is for leadership training, it has to include content that presses the importance of taking responsibility and initiatives in the workplace. Likewise, for any other training, knowing about their job responsibilities will allow the vendor to include task-specific content.
10. When and where will they take the course?
Identifying the primary location where your employees will take the eLearning course plays a crucial role in determining the course design. For instance, are your employees going to be in public places where audio might not be audible? Or will the course be offered as on-the-job training? In this case, the modules have to be bite-sized for easy and quick read.
Getting the answers to these questions during the initial stages of e-learning design and development is crucial in developing the right course with the right content. What’s more? It allows you to provide a personalized learning experience to your employees. Hence, consider these questions while analyzing the target audience, to provide a course that is learner-worthy. And if you feel you have more questions to add, feel free to use the Comments section!