When I hear a client tell me, ‘this course is designed for everyone, for all learners,’ alarm bells immediately start going off. What the client is actually saying is that the course has been developed for nobody in particular and might only connect with a potential learner accidentally. Failing to identify the primary learner in the early stages of course development can lead to mismatched expectations and disengaged learners. So, let’s talk about how to identify the learner of your online course and make your content resonate with the right audience.
Who is the learner? The learner is the protagonist in your course’s narrative and the one who could benefit the most from engaging with your course. Truly understanding who the learner is might be the single most important step in the online course development process. Creating content designed to meet your learner’s needs ensures a more engaging and successful learning experience. It is your responsibility as a course developer to connect with your learner on an emotional level. But how?
Authenticity is key. The more you can relate to your learner’s emotions and experience, the more trust and rapport you’ll build. When you can identify your learner’s fears, doubts, goals, and aspirations you can build content that addresses all of those emotions and delivers on the real reason they are taking the course in the first place..
Take the time in the early stages of course development to build a few learner personas. A learner persona is a fictional detailed representation of your target learner. It doesn’t just include demographics and background, but also their challenges, fears, hopes, and dreams. Give each persona a name and face and keep your learner personas in mind throughout the course development process. They become your North Stars, informing every decision you make, including those about course content, video production, assessments, and more.
Always remember that it’s not about creating a course for everyone. Instead, it’s about crafting a transformative learning experience for the right learners. By knowing your learners intimately and using learner personas as your compass, you can create content that resonates deeply and fulfills their goals. So, as you progress in your course development, consistently ask yourself, “Would [insert persona name] benefit from learning this concept?” By doing so, you will not only connect with your learners but also guide them toward a more rewarding and engaging learning journey.
*Download the learner persona worksheet
Coming up next: Understanding the dilemma your course helps solve for