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Why Understanding the Needs of Learners is Key

One of the keys to success that is often overlooked is knowing your learner’s needs or wants before you create your eLearning course. Involving your learners in the process from the beginning helps you identify what content they need and which devices they work on, so you can make a positive impact on learner engagement and help ensure your course is successful.

Posted 24 January 2022

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Looking at your eLearning like a co-production is a more comprehensive way of involving your learners. To do this well, however, there are lots of things you need to consider.

How things have changed

The past nearly two years of the pandemic have seen organisations changing the way they work, with nearly 39% carrying out their work remotely. Third sector organisations have therefore had to recruit volunteers with a different skill set or retrain/upskill their current volunteers to meet the changing criteria brought about by lockdowns.  Instead of providing face-to-face help,  volunteers had to become much more tech savvy than in the past. With the introduction of zoom or team calls, even just adapting your face-to-face skills to on-camera delivery, or event audio only, was quite a change.

Increased demand for services

As the economic and social consequences of the pandemic continue, more people are relying on the support of third sector organisations. The website Third Sector reported that the average number of people supported by local causes reached record levels in June of this year and is expected to keep increasing.

Challenges with volunteer engagement

In the beginning of the pandemic there was a high rate of volunteer engagement, by April 2020 more than 750,000 signed up to become NHS volunteer Responders, undertaking tasks such as driving patients to appointments, making phone calls to isolated members of the community and picking up prescriptions. However, the latest data (May 2021) from seventh monthly Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer, led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University, shows that despite large numbers of first-time volunteers coming forward during the pandemic, as the year progressed they saw a decline of 36% in engagement levels.

Helping with service development going forward

A study by Arden University found that, to help organisations deal with these challenges more effectively, more than half (52 per cent) of organisations are planning to spend more on L&D next year, with 6 per cent predicting a significant rise.

How can you make your L&D successful?

If L&D is becoming more of a priority, how can you guarantee your eLearning is working for you not against you? Appreciating your learners' experience and understanding learner's needs enables not only more worthwhile learning, it also can contribute to greater digital uptake, higher compliance and more effective policy outcomes which can save you money in the long term.

Why the one shoe fits all approach doesn’t work

To reap the benefits of your eLearning it’s important to do your research. Take the time to find out what barriers your learners are facing when completing eLearning and what would make it easier for them. Also finding out about their performance goals and tying in how your eLearning contributes, will help learners feel like their learning is worthwhile. Even going that extra step and agreeing on goals together and what would work as a team can boost morale and lets the learner know their needs are being met and voices are being heard.

The benefits of online learning

Digital learning allows you to offer training 24 hours a day. This is great news for all types of learners as they often have limited free time available. Giving learners the freedom to choose a time that suits them to do their learning will make learning a more relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Reporting made easy

Adopting online training tools such as eLearning and a learning management system, such as eNetLearn, allows you to track your learners progress easily without all the fuss of spreadsheets and paperwork. It can track engagement levels overall and identify potential skills gaps.  This can be a huge time saver and make compliance needs easy to report or track. This quick way of finding information can also be useful when supporting your learners' needs, for example if you see someone is maybe not performing particularly well in certain areas you can offer help, resources or guidance quickly.

It is also beneficial to your learner, as they too can see their progress including what courses that need to be completed and what courses they have passed or failed.

Things to consider going forward

Consider devices- Being mindful of what devices your learners use on a daily basis is also important. If your user demographic are primarily desktop users, introducing a course made specifically for a mobile phone would probably result in a low uptake of learning unless you had the ability to implement and invest in some technology training.

Make sure content is engaging- We have all been there in the middle of training: daydreaming about what’s for lunch instead of paying attention to what’s on the screen or being taught. You want content that engages the learner from start to finish. There are many ways you can do this, from using videos or a variety of interactive points throughout your eLearning such as quizzes, images to click or even reflection points so the user feels involved rather than talked at.  Even simple things like use of language. These small adjustments can go a long way with helping a user feel more engaged.

Stop repeating yourself-Make sure you identify the base level of your learner’s knowledge and that your eLearning builds on this and is not repeating what the learner already knows. By taking the time to research this, you will also be able to identify training gaps, which can help you plan appropriate training for the future.

We can help

Digital learning can enhance learning experiences, save trainers time, enable better-tailored learning for the learner’s needs, aid in tracking learner progress, and provide transparency into the learning process for all stakeholders and much more. 

Whether you need to design small snap-shot learning interventions, develop organisation wide workforce or L&D strategies, or anything in between, we have an experienced team of learning and technology specialists that can help. Get in touch with one of our consultants who is ready to help you find a solution that meets your learners' needs.