Know Your eLearning Audience

Communication is an art form. The words, images, expressions, and gestures we choose to use interlace to form a specific meaning, tone, and style. Understanding your audience is an important part of successful and meaningful connections. Have you ever engaged in a conversation with an uber-intellectual and gotten lost in a sea of complicated vocabulary or technical mumbo-jumbo? Conversely, have you had to deal with feelings of frustration and the impression of being patronized as a result of a communication exchange not befitting your intellectual prowess?

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! As a developer of eLearning course content, this very principle is fundamental and it will help you in determining the appropriate language, the necessary level of detail, and the style and tone of the communication, whether it takes the form of the written or spoken word.

Here are some common eLearning communication blunders to look out for:

  1.  Overzealous Instruction: When assuming an instructive role, it can be difficult to quell the urge to explain everything. In most circumstances, it is not necessary to start from stage one. Audiences will have some level of existing knowledge and it is important to honor and respect this fact. Not doing so could result in a number of negative outcomes, including, but not limited to:
    • Boredom: Inundate the user with a mountain of inconsequential content and you’ll succeed in exasperating your audience’s patience and motivation.
    • Belittlement: Respect the intelligence of your audience. If your eLearning content delivery is too simple and over-detailed, audiences may come away feeling frustrated and insulted.
    • Overexposure: Present a user with too much information, and they may miss the topics of most importance.
  2. Content From-another-planet: Recognize that not everyone’s knowledge-base is equal to your own, especially when dealing with topics of the technical nature. Break down complicated terminology and concepts and utilize language us earthling’s can absorb and comprehend. ELearners should not have to read, Google, and reread a passage before achieving a satisfactory level of understanding.

Now that you know the communication development pitfalls, explore the number of communication tools that can help in achieving a clear, informative, and engaging learning experience.

  1. If you are on the fence about whether or not to include an instructional piece of information, consider pre-testing the eLearner? If the user answers a question correctly, present an abridged version of the content, missing the pieces of information they already clearly have a handle on. Those who answer questions incorrectly may need a refresher and more detailed course content.
  2. Embed side pieces of knowledge such as definitions or more detailed explanations of a concept or process. The user then has the opportunity to dig deeper and learn more without being force-fed information.
  3. Utilize explanatory imagery and multimedia to further explain complex topics. Not to sound cliché, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Certain things are  better shown than told.

Effective communication is important for eLearning success. Consider the needs of your audience first, and you can’t go wrong.

For more information on eLearning strategies and development, contact DDA VMS: 215-355-6442.


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