2.5 Know your audience
Why is it important?
The fundamental step towards meaningful learning material development is to identify the learners. Analyze your audience. What motivates them? What capabilities do they have? What do they lack? Can they co-tutor in a learning session? What eLearning format will be best for your audience: synchronous, asynchronous or blended learning? Are your learners senior-level managers? Are they end-users? A basic blunder most novice instructional designers commit is insulting the intelligence of the learner. Exercise caution with senior managers. The instructional designer should double as the course facilitator. Design learning materials that enable them to investigate a problem and arrive to multi-perception solutions. The goal here is to facilitate and not preach. If blended or synchronous format is not possible, create highly interactive and
branched scenarios for the asynchronous format. The conclusion of the course should be an opportunity for the instruction developer to improve learning materials based on discussions during the course.
There are a couple of essential questions regarding the audience you need to ask yourself before creating a course:
What is their current role and background?
Most companies spend significant dollars to hire external instructional designers who work for a short-term basis leaving behind learning materials that need regular updates and implementation. For a more responsive learning program within your organization, consider training an individual in basic andragogy and instruction design. This individual will be able to create effective learning materials that are agile and timely for your organization. The reason behind this activity? You will create learning materials that are agile and responsive to your company's culture. The more you know your audience, the better you can design your learning materials.
- When creating courses for experts in your organization, look for the senior level individuals for developing case studies and heuristics-based courses.
- When developing simulations and hands-on procedures for specific applications, determine who performs best and how to capture their work-process in training.
What are their expectations?
Make sure their expectations are placed on the top of your design process. Meeting senior management expectations will provide more freedom in terms of budget and resources to create better training programs. Make sure you have the organization learning needs included in the course learning objectives. After the course is completed, measure the results through performance surveys handed out to operations management. Instruction design is an iterative process. Identify the improvements needed for future versions of your training materials.
- What do senior managers and operation managers expect from this training?
What type of learning do they prefer?
These materials are usually reusable and can be found online. Just do a quick Google research, remember to ask for permission to use the material (if copyrighted) and always cite your sources. For training users on how to use company products, consider creating highly interactive, storyline-based learning materials. Real life scenarios that allow learners to relate, empathize and transform their attitudes are desirable in this case. End-user training can be basic or advanced, depending on the capability of the user. Attractive 3D “course-mascots” offer motivation and longer engagement in learning environments. Such features are difficult to create and embed, but they prove to improve product sales and customer satisfaction.
- End-user training is not as simple as it sounds. Some materials may be static and could be offered in the asynchronous format.
What are their skills?
This is an excellent method to create materials that are organization-centered. The skill gap determination will enable you to create training materials that are not only more relevant to your organization, but also more time and cost efficient. This also reduces re-learning concepts that lead to boredom and training drop-outs.
- Identify the current skills of your learners. Then determine the desired skills from their managers.
What is their location?
For an efficient course design, create materials for both online and hybrid learning environments. Make sure the content development team you have chosen can also double as course facilitators in both learning environments.
- Are the learners available for a blended session? Are they remote and can only experience the course online?
What is their infrastructure?
This will prepare you to use the approved formats of course and multi-media materials for uploading and viewing.
- Determine the kind of learning management system available for course deployment.
How will they apply the knowledge learned at your course? Use concrete verbs to design learning objectives. For example, use the A, B, C format for learning objective design:
Using this format we might say: (A) After reading Chapter 8 in the text, the student will be able to (B) summarize in writing the principle of supply and demand, giving an example not presented in the book, (C) with at least 90% accuracy. The Antecedent then is the learning activity, the Behavior is the skill or knowledge being demonstrated, and the Criterion is the degree of acceptable performance. This format will help you decide what knowledge will be applied in the work context and what skills will be used to apply it.
- A stands for Antecedent
- B stands for Behavior
- C stands for Criterion
What is the most effective teaching strategy that can be used.
Storylines are one of the proven methods of retaining learners at the operations level of your organization. Creating real life characters that the learner can identify with instantly bonds the learner with the material. Adding a layer of interactivity through dialogue and personalizing the experience by asking the learner to enter their name and referring them with it, is also popular with end-users. A game-like layout further creates an exciting ambiance for the course. Consider dividing the course in levels. Your LMS can show the progress of the learner in the form of a progress bar. Upon clearing a level, the learner earns some points. Accumulation of a certain number of points, by participating in activities and completing quizzes earns them more points. The highest points that also award recognition and other privileges to
the learner can be achieved by requesting the learner to write a detailed reflections statement highlighting their attitude change and skills advancement due to the course. Any helpful comments will also help improve the course.
- You can also learn more about adult learning theories and instruction design. We have a few organization tools that will help you gather the right information about your learner, the content and the technology.
Fasten your seat belts! In the upcoming sections, we will elaborate all elements of eLearning and instruction design. By the time you complete this eBook, you will be inspired to create and offer the course that has been brewing in your mind.
Did we warn you that this experience will spur a cycle of intense creativity?