SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Our blog provides the best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, instructional design, eLearning and mLearning.

To visit the Spanish blog, click here
    All Posts

    These 27 Questions Will Help You (Really) Know Your Learners


    What’s the point of creating a course that no one wants?

    No point at all, right?

    YET, we find hundreds of eLearning designers creating courses that nobody wants. Courses which the designers themselves can’t figure: who would want!

    It should ALWAYS be the other way around.

    Designers must first understand their target audience and then build content around their needs, circumstances, limitations, preferences, and wants. This means that one must move beyond the common descriptions handed out by SMEs, the manager, or even the client. 

    Hence, this post where I will talk about empathy mapping — an intuitive, yet highly powerful framework that uses a set of questions that puts you in your audience’s shoes. It is a great way for engaging with SMEs as well as performing your own research. 

    B5_30-Questions

    Questions for Demographics

    Understanding demographics allows you to understand values and outcomes that inspire and hence better engage and motivate your learners. To understand their values, you must be able to 

    1. What is the size of your target audience? — allows you to see if your target audience is large enough to generate expected revenue
    2. What is their educational and cultural background? — allows you to choose a language for your course that is neither too simple nor too technical for the audience. It will also aid you in avoiding any misuse of culturally confusing or unacceptable metaphors and analogies.
    3. What is their current role? — This defines how the content is relayed. If the audience has a highly agile and fast paced work-life (C-suite executives), or if the audience is juggling multiple jobs (e.g. working moms) then your course modules must be short, the content is affected likewise.
    4. Do they work in offices or do they engage in physical labor outdoors?  — This defines the level of mobility your course content offers (different from mobility of accessing the course). For example, outdoor workers will benefit from course that has less reading content and audio, video, and visual content (info graphs, etc.)

    Also read:  4 Steps to Becoming a Learner-Centered eLearning Professional


     

    Questions to Understand Their Grasp of Technology 

    What is the comfort level of your target audience when it comes to using technology? Unless you know their knowledge and practical experience in using technology, all those interactive lessons (and lesson activities, e.g. social-based) may go to waste. Question them about:

    1. Are they tech-savvy? — What is their level of dependence on technology (mobile, social, web, etc.)
    2. How will they be accessing the course? Will they rely on office equipment (computer lab, training room, etc.) or will they rely on their own device? This sets the budget on the level of mobility and device responsiveness of your course.
    3. What is their level of activity on social media? —How much do they understand its use? This lets you increase/limit the reliance on the course of social activities.
    4. What software and programs do they use in their daily work? — Let’s supplement the course with already available courses.

    Questions to Find their Level of Skill/Knowledge

    What new knowledge and skill should your course impart and develop respectively? This can only be addressed when you know their existing level of knowledge and skill. 

    1. What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with this course?
    2. What do they already know? — Do they want to learn from scratch or update themselves?
    3. What they DON'T know?
    4. What’s their experience with this topic? Perhaps practical experience lacking structured theory?
    5. Do they think they need this training? — What is their level of urgency? Organization-wide change or personal growth?
    6. What are your audience's preconceptions about your topic? — Do they find it hard and too technical? Do they think it’s just a formality?
    7. How much time available for training do they have?  — Can learners attend a 1-week course or only be away 2 hours at a time?
    8. Under what circumstances will they need to use what they learn?
    9. Why will they want to learn? — What’s in it for them?

    Questions for Better Marketing

    1. What will prevent your audience from hooking to your content?
    2. What will keep them from adopting your message and carrying out your call to action?
    3. How might they resist? — Think of different objections learners might have.
    4. What is using this content going to be like in their real work?  — Where will they be after taking the course?
    5. What if they don’t take the course? What will happen?
    6. What do they actually need to DO after? — What are your learners expecting to be able to do at the workplace after they have taken your course?
    7. If learners weren't required to take your course, would they? — What is your course’s USP?

    Questions to Address the Problems They Face

    1. What’s their world or typical day like? — Their routine/schedule sets the tone for your course. If they will have time only at the end of the day or on weekends after a hard day/week at work, then the tone and length of the modules must be short, and the type of content must be light, simple, and even humorous.
    2. What are the common constraints or challenges? — Lack of time, information overload, house chores, extensive road trips/flights, etc. Let's you make your course leverage those constraints (Audio for the road, light reading for the flight, Infographics in between lunch breaks, etc.)
    3. What are their professional and life goals? — Your content must reinforce how those goals are met or are being met at the end of every module.

    Once you have all this information apply audience analysis insights to eLearning design.

    Also read: 
    Audience Analysis Template


     

    Related Posts

    Key Questions For Choosing The Right e-Learning Platform For Your Company

    The implementation of an e-learning platform can be an excellent investment for the growth and development of the company and its employees. However, choosing the right solution can be a challenge for HR directors and learning leaders.

    5 Reasons Why Learners Forget Your Online Training Content

    "Training doesn’t help one jot if people can’t remember it in the real world"  —Teresa Ewington Our biggest goal in training is to get students to remember the material. To do this more effectively, it helps to learn what causes the mind to forget things. By getting a clear view of what makes a person forget, we can incorporate key elements into our programs that help counteract those causes.  Forgetting is an important function. It helps a human filter out trivial things that would clog the brain and override important information. Forgetting helps ease the pain of tragedy and enables a person to continue living without constant sadness. There are times, however, when we not only need to remember but need to do so at a time when the information is useful. Let's take a look at the five most common reasons your corporate learners forget your training.

    The Empowered Learner: 4 Things L&D Professionals Need to Know

    In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, it's crucial to update our training methods to meet the needs of modern learners. This goes beyond simply incorporating technology and addressing shortened attention spans. It's about equipping the workforce with the tools they need to feel satisfied in their jobs and to be valuable assets to the company as a whole. To achieve this, it's essential to say goodbye to traditional methods such as long lectures and dense presentations. These methods are not only tedious but also ineffective. Today's learners thrive on engagement, interaction, and personalization. By adopting new methods that focus on active learning and providing real-life examples, we can ensure that our workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their roles.