How To Effectively Assess Your eLearning Course Audience
While eLearning course design and content creation are two vital aspects of developing eLearning deliverables, the first and arguably most important step of creating a winning eLearning course is finding out as much as possible about your target audience. After all, you cannot develop an eLearning course that results in knowledge acquisition or retention, without first assessing the needs and wants of your learners.
- Survey your core eLearning Course audience to determine prior knowledge.
Having a clear idea of what your eLearning Course audience already knows will give you the ability to design and develop eLearning courses that offer real value. By surveying your eLearning Course audience you will become aware of their prior knowledge and their educational status. For example, if your research reveals that a vast majority of your learners have graduated college and have a significant amount of experience in their respective industry, this indicates that you can possibly use professional jargon and discuss more advanced topics. In addition, you can assess your eLearning Course audience beforehand through an online exam or a quiz that tests their existing knowledge and skill sets. Both methods will give you the chance to create eLearning courses that are both relevant and engaging by including subject matters that help to expand learners’ knowledge base. As a result, they will be more motivated to learn and to acquire the new information being provided. However, keep in mind that surveys should be convenient and concise, as learners usually won't have a great deal of time to complete them. Also, if you are creating eLearning courses for multiple audiences, such as employees in different departments within a company, create separate surveys that are short and to the point to get the most effective and accurate feedback.
- Gain a clear understanding of expectations through eLearning Course audience feedback.
Determine what your learners want to take away from the educational experience in order to develop eLearning courses that achieve the desired performance goals and do not fall short of their expectations. Get feedback from all of your learners or, if not possible, just select few who represent the “typical” learner to get a better sense of what they expect from the eLearning course. Also, try to gauge what elements they want in the eLearning course itself. For example, do they want a variety of videos that will guide them through a particular process or task, or would they prefer to participate in a number of online scenarios?
- Current Skills vs. Desired Skills Assessments.
An important part of assessing your eLearning course audience is finding out what skills they currently possess and which core skill sets need to be developed via your eLearning deliverable. To determine what skill sets your eLearning Course audience currently possesses you can have them complete a survey or a test before designing the eLearning course to gauge what they know versus what they need to know. Moreover, if you're designing a training course, one of the best ways to carry out an in depth skill assessment is to actually observe learners on-the-job. Select a handful of learners who are good example of the “typical” learner to see which skill sets they utilize while performing job duties, as well as which additional skills are required in order to help them enhance their job performance. Also, you may want to speak directly with your client (supervisor, manager, educator, facilitator, etc) in order to determine which skill sets they want their learners to fine-tune. Doing this will enable you to enhance the skills they already have and work on the skills they lack.
- Are They Interested in the Topics Being Explored?
Before delving into the development and design of your eLearning course, you may want to think about creating a small module to find out if your eLearning Course audience has interest in the topics being explored. For example, you can develop a short training video that discusses a handful of the subjects you'll be including in the eLearning course and have them complete a survey after they view the video. You can also design a brief module that quickly touches upon the various aspects of the eLearning course and then ask them to complete a quiz to gauge their interest, as well as whether they were actually ready and willing to learn the new information. If your eLearning Course audience simply isn't interested in the topics you're covering (if for example, they have already studied at length on-the-job or in other courses) then they aren't going to be motivated to learn. They need to be able to see that they are going to receive some benefit from the eLearning course, so that they remain engaged and open to the learning process.
- Determining the Real World Applications of your eLearning Course.
No eLearning course audience assessment is complete without first identifying how your eLearning course can offer real world benefits to your learners. This can be achieved through surveys, observations, and a company analysis (in the case of corporate training deliverables). How can you create eLearning courses that are going to offer learners skill sets and knowledge that they will be able to apply in real life situations? One of the most effective ways to gather this information is through interviews, given that you can gain a detailed understanding of what skills and information will help them in the real world. By doing this, you can increase learner motivation and interest, as they will be able to clearly identify how your eLearning course will help them to expand upon their professional and/or personal knowledge base.
These tips and techniques will give you the opportunity to assess your eLearning audience, so that you can develop effective, engaging, and unforgettable educational experiences for your target audience, regardless of the subject matter or their background.
Want to learn more about analyzing your eLearning audience? The article 6 Key Questions To Effectively Analyze Your eLearning Course Audiences highlights 6 key questions that can help you create eLearning courses that effectively achieve learning goals and offer real value to your learners.