The most challenging aspect of imparting effective online training is targeting the many learners taking the same program. Understanding the different types of learners, summed up in following categories, is beneficial to any designer looking to create personalized eLearning courses.
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1. Confident Learners
Although confident learners typically make the same amount of mistakes as other learners, they believe they are capable of anything, which leads to higher participation. Confident learners are natural leaders, meaning they are able to set their own goals and even the direction for training, if given the opportunity, and they sometimes prepare in advance for eLearning courses.
The main challenge with these learners is that they may become frustrated easily if the program moves too slowly, lacks clearly defined objectives, or does not encourage participation. They require an opportunity for interactions such as group discussions, team projects, and other shared experiences with their peers.
Learning is a central part of overachievers’ lives: they seek out information to enhance their knowledge in order to solve problems and increase their achievements. Overachievers really are exceptional performers; however, they lack patience and may insist doing the course their own way or advise the instructor on how to create more effective eLearning courses. They also require constant feedback to know that they are doing well.
It is impossible to impress an overachiever, even with the most effective eLearning courses. To an overachiever, programs always impede learning in some way — a course may cover too many topics or too few, the content may be too deep or too shallow; the program may move too fast or too slow. However, although, a challenge, satisfying overachievers is well-worthwhile as they read more into assignments and are an asset to discussions.
3. Emotional Learners
Emotional learners are significantly influenced by their feelings and want to feel attachment to the course either through the instructor or the content. They like being invited to participate and, like overachievers, require feedback during training.
Characteristics common to emotional learners include patience, endurance, and loyalty even when other students may feel the course is taking too long to reach its goal. eLearning professionals can best reach these learners by:
- Providing them well-written and designed assignments and exercises.
- Encouraging interactions with other students.
- Find the story in your content and let it follow a natural flow. Help learners see why this information matters and how it’s relevant to them.
- Recognizing that these learners are striving to fulfill their trainers’ expectations.
- Clearly define the course objectives (this is like setting a map before learners so they know where they intend to land).
- Give them at least one compelling reason to care about your course. Make them forge an emotional attachment to it. Will it make them more successful? Perhaps happier?
4. Integrated Learners
Integrated learners tend to form peer-like relationships with their trainers. They want to get more out of a course than simply receiving information — they want to use content to accomplish tasks without the need for guidance. Integrated learners are self-directed and are able to manage learning tasks and transfer knowledge to other situations. They have high standards for both themselves and others.
5. Unmotivated Learners
Even though they may submit assignments on time, unmotivated learners lack enthusiasm, never exceed expectations, and are likely to drop courses. They put in a minimal effort and may disrupt others. Unmotivated learners are looking for an easy course and often believe that eLearning courses are less challenging than brick-and-mortar programs.
Having said that, it is not impossible to engage unmotivated learners. Through the use of creative strategies, it is possible to get such people passionate about learning.
6. Risk Takers
Risk takers love procuring new skills and information, are highly motivated to reach goals if they will benefit from the learning, and particularly enjoy interactive exercises. Risk takers will deviate from course guidelines if it gives them the opportunity to gain new knowledge, and they are resourceful in facing challenges or change. They enjoy working both independently and cooperatively.
Effective eLearning courses are able to engage these learners when they talk about ways experts explore new ideas and discuss complex questions. Risk takers also enjoy eLearning programs that teach them how to recognize errors, solve complex problems and feature case studies.
7. Surprised Learners
Surprised learners lack self-confidence, which impacts every aspect of their learning from their desire to learn to their ability to focus and their willingness to take risks. Such learners are unaware of their inability to work independently and are unprepared to part from traditional methods, meaning they find online learning difficult.
Often uncomfortable expressing their need for help; surprised learners may fall behind. However, there are several ways instructors can help such students.
8. Motivated/Engaged Learners
Motivated learners are one of the best types of students for trainers to encounter due to their eagerness to learn. These hard workers have specific goals and are willing to work hard to overcome any difficulty. Whenever possible, eLearning professionals should allow these learners to choose the content they study and move at their own pace. Allowing them to explain learning to other students will reinforce their understanding.
Here's a quick list of how engaged learners behave:
- Active and collaborative. Show sustained behavioral involvement in learning activities.
- They display a more positive emotional tone and are thus enthusiastic, passionate and optimistic about their learning endeavor.
- They seek out help, whether inside or outside the course, to achieve learning goals.
- They're naturally more curious and interested than unengaged students.
- They exert their best effort and concentrate effectively when completing tasks.
- On-task behavior, are focused on learning with minimum distractions.
- They enjoy and respond well to challenges. They persist despite challenges and figure out a way to overcome them.
- They display a 'can do' mentality and thus take pride on completing the course.
- They try hard to learn what the course offers. They are not simply intrested in getting good grades, but in understanding the material and including this knowledge in their daily work.
9. Dependent Learners
Dependent learners work diligently, frequently ask for help and feel insecure about their answers. Online instructors can help these students learn alone by encouraging them to read or watch content before seeking guidance and allowing them to thoroughly check their work before submitting a final answer.
10. Experiential Learners
Also called late bloomers, experiential learners are easily frustrated, have low-self confidence, and often produce low-quality work lacking originality. Experiential learners are often young and beginners to eLearning. They have limited life and work experience, lack independence, and are unable to apply previously learned material even when instructors are active and supportive but do benefit from approval and recognition.