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Shortly after a rare lightbulb moment, when a profitable idea has appeared in our brain and is positively screaming at us, jumping straight to execution is deliciously tempting. Often, we want to get the thing done as quickly as possible, and then sit back to savour the fruits of our labour.
As an example, an RTO leader might become aware of a gap in the market for a new online educational course, and spend months planning, designing, and creating the course prototype, all without considering who it’ll be marketed towards—a crucial step that can be the difference between a full or an empty classroom.
Understanding the ideal customer for the course would be a major priority for a marketer. Every RTO should understand their target audience, and one of the most effective ways to do this is by creating learner profiles.
A learner profile is an outline of a typical student. Learner profile attributes include information such as their demographics, skills, likes/dislikes, daily struggles, and preferred learning style. They’re similar to buyer personas, and allow us to design education with a particular person in mind, ensuring that their needs are met.
When designing any type of product, it’s vital to know who you’re designing for. Up until this point, little attention has been paid to this crucial step in the online learning market. As the competitive race rages on, and learners become more sophisticated investors in their education, organisations who forgo the creation of learner profiles may find themselves trailing in a cloud of dust, in exactly the same way as a trainer fails if they don’t understand their audience.
Online educators are seeing tremendous payoffs when investing the time for learner profiles. This process can be valuable for the following reasons.
With the expansive power of the web, most online courses have the potential to reach a global range of people. This is fantastic for course numbers, but strips away face-to-face interaction, making it difficult to understand the profiles of people who are taking your courses. With learner profiles, we’re able to give our students names, faces, and characteristics, which helps to inform important design decisions when creating the course. A learner profile brings to life your typical and ideal student, so you are less likely to forget them!
Once you have conceptualised your students as humans, you can use your learner profiles to create the ideal courses, with fewer wasteful adjustments.
For example, consider a learner profile named Julie—a lady in her 60s who engages in continual professional development for her aged care position. She has an old desktop Mac that she uses to study on weekends. Julie doesn’t need a mobile app, or any complicated, gamified course elements. She’s unlikely to appreciate high-definition video or fancy animation. What she cares about is simplicity and structure. She wants to access the learning management system with ease, and find everything she needs to finish the course.
When designing or making changes to an online course, an organisation using learner profiles would repeatedly ask how Julie would feel about the situation, and would be able to rule out any changes, or move forward with confidence. By deciding on Julie's learner profile attitudes before proceeding with the design, we create a much sharper focus on our desired outcome.
Training organisations must deliver on the value promised to their learners, not only to ensure the survival of their business, but to deliver training that helps to improve our society. Time is a precious commodity, and many industries are facing huge skills shortages. Online education has the power to accelerate an individual’s learning curve and teach the necessary skills of the future, at scale.
Brand damage, poor learning, and high attrition may be the consequence of failing to understand your learners. Ignoring the person on the other end of the screen is no longer an option. Learner profiles can constantly remind you who you’re designing for, allowing you to make smarter, informed decisions, and creating maximum value for everyone involved.
What are you waiting for? Bring your team together today to create some ideal learner profiles for your online courses. You won’t regret it!