In this article, you will learn:
- A key question you need to ask before sitting down to create your eLearning courses.
- A practical example illustrating what might happen if you don´t get to know your audience first.
- Questions to keep in mind before starting.
Are you designing an eLearning course right now? If you are... STOP! Do you know who your students are?
On many occasions the daily pressures and multiple responsibilities require us to look for quick fixes and react in a short period of time.
The eLearning industry is no exception, constant changes in the workplace and the need for qualified employees often causes us to develop basic and raw eLearning courses with very few interactive elements.
When designing eLearning courses we tend to create them based on our needs and time, and forget to think of our students and the reasons why they are taking these courses.
When you start producing eLearning content be sure there is a lesson plan or if there isn´t, develop it. This plan usually includes the following aspects:
- What?: It defines learning objectives and training content.
- When? It defines how these objetives and contents will be held and sequenced.
- How? The educational activities and content that will be implemented to achieve each objective.
- What, how and when to evaluate? Evaluative actions are planned to measure and track the achievement each objective as well.
It's a fact eLearning content needs to be developed in a strategic process that requires careful planning. The first step in that process is identifying your audience (i.e. students who are taking the training).Therefore, to be able to answer these questions effectively is 100% necessary to know the target audience of our course first.
It might seem like a basic step, but getting to know and understand your audience is the first thing you should do before doing anything else. Why? – if you don’t touch on the things that interest your audience in your eLearning courses, how are you going to engage them? and how are you going to define the most appropriate teaching strategies to promote their learning?
Here's an example:
An instructional designer created a course to train new Sales Agents in your company. He focused on gathering all the information on necessary strategies, information and techniques for them to do their daily work. However, he didn't made a prior study of the audience, therefore he missed out the fact that these employees were new to the organization, thus, they had zero knowledge on the technical and practical aspects of the products. This caused a huge learning gap generating a delay in the beginning of the tasks, causing demotivation and insecurity among the new agents.
This is just one example of what could happen if we don't know our target. Note that:
- Adults are motivated to learn that which helps them achieve their goals, this way courses should focus on helping students achieve their objectives in their daily work.
- Learning should be oriented to the problems faced by students in their daily work. For this reason, we recommend a practical learning architecture based on learning through problems (problem-based learning).
- Adults enter the learning process with their experiences and this should be the main asset in the learning process.
The key to meeting students needs and keep them motivated is to know and understand their characteristics and design your eLearning project based on them.
Keep in mind the following questions about your audience when you are preparing your eLearning courses:
- When will learning occur? At what time of the day will they be taking the courses.
- What are their needs?
- What is their level of education? It is important to know both their academic and computer skills
- Does your audience already know something? Check out their prior knowledge. You must be clear on what the public already know, what they are doing now and their "desired state."
- Will your audience benefit from taking the course? Getting to know their objectives and expectations in taking the course is very important.
- Is your audience already interested in the topic? If you discover they are not, you have to think how to engage them.
- What will the audience be able to do with the content that you transmit through the course?
Alright! There is no reason for stopping ... Now you know who your students are, so you are ready to resume the development of your course! Just a final suggestion: Be open to their feedback and ideas –this definitely can help you become an innovator and an eLearning pro!
What advice can you give us to create a successful eLearning course?What experiences have you encountered when not considering your audience initially?