Creating a great self-paced training experience depends significantly on identifying and understanding the audience that you are expecting to take it. As an eLearning developer for Dynamics 365 products, I have seen the different approaches and strategies that can fuel impactful training experiences.
Why is the audience so important to self-paced training? In this article, we will look at three components of audience considerations, using three example audiences (advanced software users, new software users, and non-user managers) as an example.
The depth of the training, meaning how deeply the course explores the subject, depends on understanding your audience and, more importantly, their intent and goal for training. For example, software training focused on advanced users with previous experience in the subject may be more in depth and more technical than that same course designed for beginners. Similarly, a course designed for managers who do not use the software (but oversee people who do) may focus on broader concepts and visualizations, and provide less intensive detail on specific processes the manager will not use.
The context of a training audience is very important because it identifies assumptions about the training users. Using the software training example again, a course that is developed for advanced users will assume the users have context and understanding of foundational knowledge, and therefore will not explain those basic concepts in detail. Conversely, that same course designed for beginners will devote significant time to those foundational areas, building up the learner’s context and knowledge base before moving on to more detailed information. Managers will likely need a different course experience all together, potentially focusing on the software concepts and utility, making few assumptions about previous knowledge, but omitting detailed steps and day-to-day processes that they will not be performing themselves.
Self-paced training design should always consider the need for practical application and demonstrations throughout. In software training, this consideration can greatly affect course design and structure. For example, a course for advanced users avoids providing demonstrations of basic processes that the user should already understand. Conversely, training for new users will likely include significant demonstrations and software simulations of those basic processes to ensure that new users feel comfortable in the software and understand the foundational processes they will use in the future. In our example, managers will likely have few demonstrations that focus on specific processes, as their training focus is conceptual, not practical.
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By: Daniece Rainville