Step Inside The Shoes Of Your Online Learners: 7 Tips For eLearning Professionals
There is no "cookie cutter" approach to eLearning. To improve performance behaviors and build necessary skills, online learners must feel as though the eLearning course is made just for them. The most effective way to accomplish this is by putting yourself in their place and viewing the eLearning experience from their point of view. This gives you the rare opportunity to explore their motivations, needs, and wants so that you can boost the benefits of your eLearning course.
1. Challenge Your Assumptions And Start With A Clean Slate
You may not even be aware of the fact that you hold certain assumptions that are preventing you from empathizing with your online learners. This is why it's important to throw all of your unfounded assumptions out of the window and just start fresh. You might be surprised by what you discover. For example, you may naturally assume that your online learners know about a particular concept or idea. This prompts you to leave it out of your eLearning course design, due to the fact that you don't want to repeat information and overwhelm your audience. However, by conducting some audience research you'll find that they are completely unfamiliar with the topic. Thus, you must explore the core concepts and ideas before you can move onto more complicated subject matter. If you think that you know everything about your online learners, consider doing more research to determine if you are on-target or completely missing the mark. At the same time, don't forget to check your LMS reports to keep up with participation, engagement, and completion rates. All these are great indicators of the effectiveness of your eLearning course.
2. Actively Listen To Their Opinions And Insights
We can get so focused on designing every aspect of the eLearning course that we lose sight of what our online learners need. For example, we may rely solely on our Subject Matter Expert to tell us what to include and what to omit, without even thinking about asking our online learners directly. It's essential to actively listen to your audience to collect their opinions and insights. Invite a select few online learners to participate in one-on-one interviews or focus groups. Encourage them to discuss their feelings about the subject matter, what they need to get out of the eLearning course, and how they think it can help them achieve their goals. This approach can also be used after they've completed your eLearning course to identify strengths and weaknesses. Listening to your current online learners gives you the chance to improve the eLearning course design for future audiences.
3. Create Learner Personas
Chances are your online learners can be divided into distinct groups based on the skills they must acquire, their backgrounds, and their job responsibilities. So, why not create learner personas that help you create personalized eLearning experiences? Highlight the traits, needs, viewpoints, and expectations of every group. Share these learner personas with your team to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Try to be as detailed as possible when you are developing these learner personas, but not so specific that you exclude members of your audience. For example, if you assign a particular personality or appearance to a learner persona, online learners who do not fall into that category won't feel a connection with the eLearning content. Another benefit of using learner personas is that it allows you to choose images, real-world examples, and character-based eLearning stories that are relevant and relatable for your online learner groups.
4. Examine Their Values And Motives
There is a reason why your online learners have chosen to participate in your eLearning course. They are there because they want to learn a new skill, become proficient in a task, or achieve a goal. This is what drives them to succeed. There are also core values that you must consider, such as beliefs and assumptions that are underlying their motivations. Surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups can help you identify their cognitions. This rule even applies to compliance online training courses that are mandatory. Bear in mind that they are required to take the eLearning course, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are required to fully engage in the process. Thus, there is something that is motivating them to learn and to assimilate the eLearning content. It's your job to figure out what that is and to fuel it throughout the eLearning experience. Of course, creating engaging eLearning content is a must if you want to grab your online learners' attention. To achieve that, opt for an eLearning authoring tool equipped with a rich online asset library that also supports responsive design. That way your online learners can have access to your eLearning course on the go.
5. Be Curious About Their Backstories
Every online learner has a story to tell, and it's wise to learn as much as you can about that story before designing your next eLearning experience. Of course, you can't know everything about everyone, but you can get a good grasp on their experience levels, knowledge base, and expectations. This can be accomplished by conducting surveys, pre-assessments, and focus groups that reveal more about your audience. Ask them questions that may seem irrelevant at the time, but can tell you a great deal about their personality and preferences. For example, asking them about their personal interests and hobbies gives you the opportunity to customize their eLearning activities. Online learners who enjoy sports can benefit from a baseball-inspired serious game, while nature lovers will enjoy a botanical themed eLearning course layout. Getting their backstory helps you to form a more profound connection with your online learners, which translates to more meaningful eLearning experiences.
Stepping inside the shoes of your online learners is typically one of the most challenging aspects of designing an eLearning course. However, all the hard work and dedication will pay off when your online learners are able to reach their goals in and out of the eLearning environment.
Designing your eLearning course doesn't have to be yet another source of stress. Invest on an LMS platform that will help you all the way through the eLearning course tracking and reporting.
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