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Who Are Your Learners, Really?

 

Posted on Tue, 22/11/2016 - 09:22

As a learning and development professional you know the importance of creating training that hits home with your audience. One could spend days, even weeks, cultivating training content that will ultimately fall on deaf ears. Whether you are delivering training in a presentation style classroom setting, or in one of the many online forms, appealing to your learners and ensuring knowledge retention is no easy task. So how do you mitigate this issue? How can you create corporate training content that speaks to your learners? Get to know your learners! To illustrate, let’s imagine you are dropped (not literally) into a kindergarten classroom and asked to teach the kids how to balance a checkbook. This would be a challenge for most 5 year olds to understand. To convey the information to the kids in a way they could potentially understand you would need to consider many factors. For instance, they don’t know what a checkbook is, why you need one, how checks work, etc. These factors would change the way you would need to present information. On the other hand, if you had to explain to a peer who, for whatever reason, didn’t know how to balance a checkbook, the task would be much easier. The point here is, who you are trying to teach makes a difference in how you convey and deliver your information. For this article, we will be assuming you are generating corporate training content to be delivered to your learners online.

To illustrate, let’s imagine you are dropped (not literally) into a kindergarten classroom and asked to teach the kids how to balance a checkbook. This would be a challenge for most 5 year olds to understand. To convey the information to the kids in a way they could potentially understand you would need to consider many factors. For instance, they don’t know what a checkbook is, why you need one, how checks work, etc. These factors would change the way you would need to present information. On the other hand, if you had to explain to a peer who, for whatever reason, didn’t know how to balance a checkbook, the task would be much easier.

The point here is, who you are trying to teach makes a difference in how you convey and deliver your information. For this article, we will be assuming you are generating corporate training content to be delivered to your learners online.

Who Are Your Learners - Designing Digitally

Who Are Your Learners?

The question, “who are your learners” may seem obvious. However, when you really think about it, there are many factors that play into this broader, overarching question.

  • What is the demographic of your learners?
  • What is the experience level of your learners in the organization and what is their experience withHow experienced are your learners with the technology you will be using to deliver training?

As you can see, a seemingly simple question is made up of a few more detailed questions that will lead you to the ultimate answer, “who are my learners, really?”

What Is The Demographic?

Depending on your industry and business size, learner (workforce) demographics can vary dramatically. The reason this question is important regardless of industry and business size, is because who you your learners are, as people, makes a difference in how they perceive and react to information. For instance, a 45 year old male from New York likely has different views and experiences than a 21 year old female from Texas, or a 55 year old man from Japan. The picture being painted here is that the age, location, status and experiences of your learners has an impact on how they perceive your online corporate training content. Also, this plays into their experience with various technologies, which we will touch on a bit later.

What Is Their Experience Level In The Organization?

When crafting content and deciding what online delivery method will be best for your learners, it is important to consider their experience level in the organization and with this content. Reason being, new hire orientation likely contains different topics than performance support training.

Consider the following: You are creating training content for new hire orientation; this training consists of company policies, industry jargon, basic product knowledge, etc. The individuals participating in this training are new to the company and, perhaps. the industry. Therefore, the level of detail in your content must be much deeper than if you are providing refresher training for managers on company policy. Not only that, but you will need to provide example, context and explanation for each concept in a different manner than if you are just chatting with other managers.

Additionally, you learner’s experience with the content makes a difference in how you address a training topic. Can you discuss something from a high-level perspective, or must you dive deep into the nitty gritty details?

How Experienced Are Your Learners With The Delivery Method?

Another idea to consider that relates to learner demographic is the learner’s experience with various online delivery methods. As you can imagine, a 55-year-old executive at a mortgage company may not see a serious game as an effective tool for training. Not to mention the ability to “just start playing” may not be all there. 

When choosing an online delivery method for your corporate training, consider your learner demographic before deciding a training simulation is the best option. Also, think about how the delivery method matches your learning objective. For instance, would a training simulation be the best way to train new employees on policy for requesting off work? Doubtful. However, if you are cultivating content for new hire orientation, and your learners are energetic Millennials, a serious game could be a great way to practice their sales skills before hitting the field. Reason being, Millennials (myself included) have been immersed in technology and video games for most of our lives, so a training game would be up our alley, so to speak. 

Did This Help?

As you can see, there are many factors that play into the more broad question of, “who are my learners?” But consider your learners demographic, experience in the organization and online delivery methods and you will be off to a good start when you begin to cultivate your online training content. For guidance on how to ensure you are on the right path with your learners contact us today!

By Designing Digitally, Inc.