Creating eLearning For Varying Learner Profiles: 5 Learners We All Know!

Creating eLearning For Varying Learner Profiles: 5 Learners We All Know!
Summary: Educators and Learning enthusiasts understand that the business of coming to know our students as learners is simply too important to leave to chance and the danger of not undertaking this inquiry is to risk diminishing the ROI of eLearning. Here are 5 learner profiles we all know and how to use them to create more effective learning experiences.

5 Learner Profiles We All Know 

Some of us may believe that harping on the importance of "knowing your learners" is a statement of the obvious. However, the process of identifying and understanding learner profiles is often difficult and challenging – especially in the context of eLearning, where the learner proceeds in a self-paced manner and often in isolation. Knowing learners means more than merely acquiring social or administrative information. To maximize the effect of eLearning, we need to dig deeper than the superficial.

Today, research and experience in learning is revealing complex interplay of factors that influence a student's learning. Educators and Learning enthusiasts understand that the business of coming to know our students as learners, is simply too important to leave to chance and the danger of not undertaking this inquiry is to risk diminishing the ROI of eLearning. There are varied learner profiles that can be identified within the learner group. Some of them more common than others. Identifying them helps developing eLearning that aligns to their preferences.

  1. “I-don’t-want-to-try-it”.
    Many learners are just reluctant about trying out a new way of learning. The old way of traditional classrooms is a comfortable choice and they do not want to move away from their comfort zone. On the other hand, there are the obvious benefits of technology-aided learning and the money that is invested in it. But as developers, we have to invest some more in educating the learners in terms of how the Learning Management System works and the ways that they can best extract learning out of it. Training sessions and workshops can be held to train managers as well as learners on the functions of the Learning Management System. Key features of the Learning Management System can be pointed out in these sessions and learners can be encouraged to try them out. Early adopters from the group can also be identified and they can motivate or guide other learners who may not be so comfortable with software and may resist the change. This makes learners comfortable with the learning endeavor, and so they are more willing to try it out.
  2. “I’ll-just-skim-it”.
    This kind of learner is willing to start the learning endeavor, but not delve too much into the details. But often, the very essence of the eCourse is in its details. To make sure that learners do not skip important portions of the eCourse, a forced learning strategy can be adopted. eCourses can be broken down into multiple modules and to proceed from one to another, the learner has to go through a small assessment. Not only does the assessment spark the interest of learners, it is also indicative of how much he or she has actually learnt. To ascertain the extent of learning achieved, it can be made mandatory to score certain points or get a number of questions right to move forward. This makes sure that even the most reluctant learners give it their best – not only to perform well, but also to practice and learn.
  3. “I-know-this-already”.
    Corporate learners are aware of the benefits of learning and also quite particular on what they need to learn. eLearning initiatives are often created for large learner groups within the organizational structure, and learners often express varying level of familiarity with the subject matter. To make sure that advanced learners are not discouraged, eCourses can adopt a personalized learning strategy, where learners know what different modules within the course are and proceed to the one they feel is appropriate for them. However, this strategy is only successful if the learner group can be made responsible for their learning and they take the responsibility seriously. Learning managers may assess the learners beforehand and make sure that beginners do not skip sections.
  4. “I-will-never-remember-all-this”. 
    While eLearning is undoubtedly a very effective way of learning, many learners often feel the need to have just-in-time learning – especially while on the job. They might understand all that the eCourse shares, but feel they will not be able to retain it and apply it on to their work. But with the development in technology, mobile-enabled learning can assay their fears. Bite-sized learning nuggets can be created for mobile delivery, which the learners can refer to while on the go – even in the middle of a work assignment, if necessary. They can carry their devices and even share the information with their prospective clients. However, if mobile learning is not a logistically viable option, important documents or learning highlights can be made downloadable within the eCourse. The learners can take print-outs to keep and refer to them as and when they need.
  5. “I-want-something-for-my-efforts”.
    Learners of all ages and learner profiles want some kind of acknowledgment and do very well with encouragement. Gaming mechanics can be employed to provide an added incentive to learning, making the process of learning enjoyable through excitement of built-in gaming elements. Achievements are a very strong push to learning and many eCourses provide certificates on completion. However, just a certificate might not kindle that much excitement. To make things exciting, issue the certificate to the first 50 learners who complete the course and see how the excitement reaches its peak. Alternatively, the performance points a learner gathers through assessments, during or at the end of the course, can also be linked into the organizational appraisal system to further motivate learner.

So, go ahead identify your learner profiles and create eLearning which would suit them best. Although identifying and sorting learning preferences may seem time-consuming, the dividends the learners will reap, as well as the ROI that the organization will achieve, should more than compensate the efforts.