You have the performance objectives, you have a plan, you even have the content, but what do you actually know about your learner? What are you assuming you know? The clearer your view of the learner, the more relevant your learning solution will be and the more proactive you can be at anticipating learner needs and removing obstacles.
If you're unable to differentiate
your learners from the crowd,
you're disconnected from them.
Here are some questions to help you get a handle on who your learner really is:
What is their motivation for learning? With compliance training, for example, learners are required to sit through learning. This yields expected results. Knowing what compels learners to take training will help sharpen the focus of that training and may point to obstacles to motivation which you can investigate and address.
What is their experience with learning? If your learners have been subject to hours of painfully boring eLearning, odds are they will avoid your course, no matter how masterfully designed. Similarly, if learners have had to sit through hours of disorganized in-class training, they’re unlikely to be eagerly awaiting your session, despite your ability to engage and inspire. Badly designed and executed learning is a reality that all learning professionals have to overcome. Our challenge is to find ways to secure and build on our learner’s trust.
Are they supported? On-the-job knowledge and skills transfer doesn’t magically happen; OTJ transfer must be designed, monitored and maintained. To change a workplace through learning, you must have a firm understanding of the OTJ transfer plan and how your solution fits within that plan.
What do I do with this information now?
If you are unable to differentiate your learner from the crowd, you are disconnected from them. As a result, you can only guess at their needs, motivations and the barriers they may be facing. This produces learning solutions that alienate learners and fail to meet organizational objectives. More than designing and delivering targeted and engaging learning solutions, we must identify barriers to learning and remove them when we can.