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Final user expectations of an elearning program

• 3 min read

When approaching a training program, do you see your final users as learners or customers? The correct answer is both: we want them to learn something but we also want to keep them satisfied.

This mixed perception about the nature of final users is something that is already commonly accepted – and clearly visible – in the training strategies we see: assessing training needs and doing an audience analysis is a single fundamental task that needs to be addressed for training programs to be deployed successfully.

A learner is both a customer and a consumer, and we need to understand that when we approach online training programs. This is something challenging for an instructional designer – i.e. not only satisfying the final user, but going above and beyond that to make that final user happy. In previous posts I have taken a look at how “consumerization” is playing a role in spreading for example mobile learning and social learning all over the world. As the role of the final user becomes more important in the corporate decision making process regarding elearning, I felt the need to explore and share final user’s attitudes, expectations and behaviours.

This blog marks the first in a new series of blog posts about elearning from the final user point of view. I aim to cover the expectations that final users have when they approach an elearning program.

Training within a company is something perceived as mandatory. This is not a minus per se, because if the communication process within the company is well structured our learners will know exactly why they need to learn something. So even if they are not volunteers per se in the course (its managed from top down), they are effectively “accomplices” in its management (why? because we need their approval otherwise performance will be poor).

Learner’s expectations

Learner expectation 1:

The learner’s first expectation is to meet a corporate need, or needs, when taking a course – and we cannot disappoint them! Because of this our content should be straight to the point as filling a gap is our main goal.

Many times I’ve seen learning contents that, whilst fulfilling a performance gap, were also “satisfying” other corporate problems. I remember one particular course in which the main focus was to understand a new buying procedure, but a lot of time was also spent on justifying the existence of a new buying management department. This is something that the learners will perceive as irrelevant and out of the ‘training pact’ s/he has agreed to!

Learner expectation 2:

The second expectation is not to waste time. This statement has two direct implications: the course duration should be consistent with the training goal, and the learning environment should help learners complete the course as fast as they can. For example, several basic tasks are considered a waste of time for the majority of learners:

  • filling in forms with personal data
  • testing audio, video, connection speed
  • changing the password
  • installing plug-ins
  • signing-in authorization for the data treatment and privacy policy

All these tasks should be performed only if they are strictly necessary, and even then, only in the most transparent and easy way we can. All that can be done before starting a project by the IT or HR staff should ideally just be presented to the final users for a final agreement or check.

Even if we all agree that “repetita iuvant” (“repetition is good”) in an elearning environment it’s better to avoid repetitions unless they add clear learning value.

Learner expectation 3:

The third expectation is for final users not to be bored, and even have some fun! Whether in the classroom or online we need to be sure that learners are both interested and focused on the content and learning. This is a challenge both in the face to face classroom and online, but there are plenty of strategies to ensure some kind of fun.

In the digital world, empowering the social aspects of training is the most effective method at achieving this target. So even if you are rolling out a self-training program where mandatory courses are pushed from top to bottom, start treating your learners as consumers. No one wants an unhappy customer/consumer!