Establishing A Learner-First Training Model: How To Create Learner Personas

Establishing A Learner-First Training Model: How To Create Learner Personas
Konstantin Chagin/
Summary: The learner-first training model is simple but radically different from the way a lot of organisations train. The first step in the learner-first training model is to establish learner personas.

What Is The Learner-First Training Model?

In a learner-first training approach, trainers always start with the learner. The learner is the basis for every aspect of a company's training strategy, from the company's learning goals to their learner pathways, to the tools that they choose to train and the way they design their training.

eBook Release: Establishing A Learner-First Training Model
eBook Release
Establishing A Learner-First Training Model
This book aims to put in place the framework that Coassemble developed and refined over the years, providing a step by step guide to implementing your own learner-first training model.

Whilst this may seem like common sense, it's actually not what a lot of trainers do.

A quick note! When we talk about trainers, we mean anyone looking to share knowledge in their organisation, whether they're HR managers, training coordinators, sales directors, business owners, or more.

Training Misconceptions: How Organisations Usually Approach Training

Time-poor trainers often focus first on choosing their training platform, their content medium, and their delivery mechanism for staff training.

This process is often project-driven or individually planned, and centres around delivering training in one-time space, across whole teams, or through one delivery mechanism (face to face, online, or blended). The training itself usually only address one topic or area of need; for example, workplace safety.

Questions such as these arise:

  • What LMS should I use to train my staff?

Before questions like these:

  • Who am I training?

This is a tool-first training approach. Instead of looking at the learner first, the trainer starts by evaluating the tools they have on hand and tries to fit their learners into predefined platforms and processes.

On a broader level, the tool-first approach is a case of putting tactics before strategy. By thinking about how to execute training before thinking about learners themselves, the learners are forgotten until the training itself is rolled out.

This is why in the tool-first model, trainers often find themselves trying to fit square pegs (their learners) into round holes (their tools).

What Are The Benefits Of The Learner-First Model?

In the learner-first training model, strategy comes first and tactics come second. Trainers are able to see what shape their pegs are, and fashion appropriately sized holes.

In short, by putting the learner first, trainers ensure that the most important part of the learning strategy, the learner, has success. And when learners have success, the learning strategy itself succeeds.

When learner pathways are structured, tools are chosen and learning is designed with the learner in mind, trainers will see more engaged learners, better training outcomes, and happier, healthier, smarter workplaces.

The First Step In Establishing A Learner-First Training Model: Building Learner Personas

So how do you go about establishing a learner-first training model?

The first step is gathering as much information on your learners as you can, and the most comprehensive way to do this is by creating learner personas.

A learner persona is a representation of a learner group, distilled down into a profile that you can easily refer back to when creating your training strategy. Whilst the learner persona is fictionalized and represents a group of learners, it is a good way to begin thinking of your learners as people and designing your training accordingly.

Your learner persona should contain both demographic information, as for example, age, department, and geographic location, and psychometric information. Psychometric information covers your learners' motivations and needs. For example, what are your learners’ motivations at your company? What drives them to complete learning? What’s their preferred method of learning?

Here’s an example of a basic learner persona:

  • Name: Barry
  • Age: 34
  • Department: Sales
  • Goals: Hitting sales targets
  • Interests: Sports
  • Reasons for learning: Achieving greater product knowledge to improve sales conversations
  • Preferred learning method: Bite-sized learning
  • Preferred learning device: Mobile

Whilst the learner persona above is quite basic, it illustrates the power of knowing your learner. By drilling into Barry’s persona, we start to understand the best methods for training him (mobile), his reasons for learning (hitting sales targets), and even how we could theme his learning to maximise engagement (sports).

As you make your learner personas more comprehensive, they will become exponentially more powerful. By understanding your learner groups in great detail, you’ll be able to tailor your training to such a degree that your training outcomes will soar.

Remember, you may have one learner persona or multiple depending on the size of the team you’re training. If you find that a group of learners doesn’t fit into any of your learner personas, it’s a good indication that you need to create another persona just for them.

So You’Ve Got Your Learner Personas. What's Next?

Well, the good news is that the hard work is done. By starting your training process with a comprehensive understanding of your learner, your learner pathway, training structure, tools and content will flow seamlessly. We’ll still be here to guide you on the best practices, though!

Wondering how to implement your own learner-first training model? Download the eBook Establishing A Learner-First Training Model and discover the step by step process on how to perfectly execute the goal of making the learner have success. Also, discover how to incorporate career mapping into your digital training strategy using a learner-first approach through the Webinar 6 Steps To Incorporate Career Mapping Into Your Digital Training Strategy.

eBook Release: Coassemble
A new next-gen microlearning platform