elearning learner engagement,When was the last time you asked your learners what they want or what they need from their eLearning?  Many organisations carry out annual learning needs analysis surveys but in many cases these focus on skills gaps and don’t take into account other information which could feed into the instructional design process and ultimately help to increase learner engagement and drive results.

Often when we start a project and ask for information about the learners to build a profile we find that the results of the analysis surveys only scratch the surface of what’s needed/wanted by the target group.  Understandably there are times when one piece of learning needs to go out to all employees but is there a way this could be tailored for a more personal learning journey, or a just-in-time approach used rather than long self-paced eLearning programs, or gamification applied to inject some fun and interest in topics which have been historically considered complex or dull (e.g. mandatory, compliance based subject matter).

When we delve a little deeper into the profiles of learner groups we generally find a nugget of information; something they all have in common or a need expressed which has flipped our design idea on its head – in a good way.

In the creation of eLearning we are essentially making a new product and taking that product to market – even within an organisation.  No company who produces goods for sale will even start production until they have done appropriate consumer research and deemed that product feasible.  So why do we (as learning & development agents) continually decide what’s best for our learners and then throw products at them without really understanding how best to deliver that information and support them in their development?

True, it takes time to collate detailed data for profiling but could you run focus groups rather than full company surveys? Could you obtain basic (anonymous) demographic information from HR records to help build that picture?

To help you get started, we’re sharing a free download of our Learner Profile Template (Basic) which contains some questions you can ask to find out more about your learners.  This is part of our Project Startup Toolkit – which asks heaps of other questions! – which can be found in our online store.

What are your thoughts? Does your organisation know its learners well, or is there room for improvement – and how can this be done efficiently and effectively?