Keep your learners in mind every step of the way as you develop your e-Learning courses. This will foster a better learning experience and will likely promote success when you pay close attention to your learners and their unique backgrounds and situations.
Consider the context of your learners. Context refers to the circumstances or setting in which an event occurs. If you fail to examine your learners’ context, you fail to create an environment fully customized and tailored for them to learn best.
Ask these 10 questions about your learners before you develop your online e-Learning courses:
What is the technical skill level of your learners? If your learners are technologically savvy, you can develop a very interactive course. If your learners are not that experienced with technology, you will want to hold back on some of the high-tech elements so you do not overwhelm or lose your learners.
Are your learners familiar with online courses? You can likely expect younger generations to have some experience with online courses, but not everyone has taken an online course and will need some guidance. For example, you can create an optional overview or tour that demonstrates how to navigate and complete the training.
What language do the learners speak? If you have multilingual learners, you will need to be very aware of your terms, examples and references to guarantee that all learners will understand. Create professionally localized content for your learners that speak different languages.
Will they learn purely online or in a classroom, too? This answer will help you determine whether you can create a standalone course or whether you will need to coordinate with the classroom materials for a successful blended learning approach.
What are your learners’ expectations, motivations and goals for the course? If the course is mandatory, you will likely base your course off a set of goals and instructions. If course completion is optional, you will still have goals, but you can explore some of the learner motivations so you can successfully meet their expectations.
What are the skill and experience levels of your learners? Depending on whether or not your learners are just starting out or are very experienced in their field, you may need to use different types of vocabulary and instruction. You may consider including a glossary in your courses. This way, you can use technical terms to explain your concepts on a high level, but provide the definition to appeal to learners that need more information.
What is their job field or industry? If all your learners work in a particular industry or in a similar field, you can incorporate industry jargon and very specific terms in your course. If they work in different fields, you’ll want to keep your use of industry-specific terms to a minimum.
How long will your learners have to complete the course? This will prescribe how to divide, or chunk, your content depending on whether your learners will progress through the course over a period of time or if it will be a rapid e-Learning course they can complete quickly.
Where will your learners likely take your course? If they need on-the-go performance support, mobile content is best. If they need a very interactive, dynamic and text-heavy course in order to best understand the material, a desktop version is probably best.
What technologies will they need to take your online course? You will want to know how your learners will access the course and anticipate any restrictions (firewall restrictions, for example). If you are not an IT expert, it may be beneficial to check with one to make sure your course is equally accessible and visible to all learners.
Even if you don’t have all the answers to the questions above, you can still make a quality guess and customize your content around those assessments. The more your training fits your learners, the more likely they are to engage on a deep level and fully commit to understanding and retaining the information.
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Christie Wroten writes for the Lectora e-Learning Blog, sharing Lectora tips and researching the latest industry trends. You can also find her articles on eLearning Industry, Learning Solutions Magazine, Learning Technologies Blog and HR.com. Christie graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University, where she studied English and Writing. When Christie’s not writing blog posts and e-Learning news, she enjoys piano, guitar, interior design and sushi.
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