“Being involved in every step of the process allows me to help tailor the content to its audience and create a well-rounded learning experience for the user”,- says Cathy Turner, GuyKat’s eLearning developer and designer. In this report, she helps us to understand the importance of tailoring your eLearning content to your audience.

Why is it important to tailor your training to different audiences?

Different audiences require different approaches. Just as TV shows and movies are made to target certain demographics, we need to do the same with our eLearning to ensure the information is transferred to the user in the most effective way. One of the most important questions we ask our clients before we begin development is ‘Who is this training for?’. We need to know who we are aiming the content at; the age range of the learners, their pre-existing knowledge of the topic in question, if they have taken a course like this before and so on. Knowing this information can drastically change how we design and develop our content and affects everything from the look and feel of the course to how long it takes to complete. If a user already has a basic understanding of the topic being covered, then a more in-depth look will be more beneficial to them than trying to teach them what they already know. On the other hand, for someone new to the subject, a high level of detail could be intimidating and an introduction to the basics may initially be required.

GuyKat tip: Ask your clients before the beginning of the development ‘Who is this training for?’.

How do you know what will be most effective for your audience?

Asking the client for information on their users is a great start but try to also look at existing training and find out what works well and why. If you can, keep track of user results and metrics, such as how long they spent taking the course, if they paused it and at what point, if a particular question received a low average score and so on. This could clarify issues with the training and help you pinpoint where users may have lost interest or struggled. Post-course surveys can also be a good way to gauge how well users responded to a course and if they felt it was effective. Understanding the behaviours and interests of an audience is something you learn the more you continue to work with them, and you may find patterns start to emerge among certain demographics. At university, I focused on young audience eLearning, whereas here at GuyKat we create mainly corporate training for businesses, so I’ve had to learn how andragogy (adult-focused teaching) differs from pedagogy (child-focused teaching).

Having made the transition from developing for children to developing for adult professionals, what are the main differences between those two groups?

At surface level, the look and feel are often very different. Younger audiences tend to respond more positively to bright colours and a cartoon-like style, with fun, cute characters that can act as a teacher or guide for the child throughout the learning experience. Whilst you may find corporate training that utilises characters or colourful graphics, it tends to be less common, and only if it fits the branding guidelines of the business.

Children also tend to have shorter attention spans than adults, so it is especially important when creating eLearning for a young audience to keep the content varied, fun and interesting! Drawn-out exercises and long paragraphs of text should be avoided or broken up by games and interactions that increase the involvement of the user. With adults, it is possible to spend more time on a single task, and they are more likely to read through the content. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to add in games to a module aimed at adults! But it does allow you to go into more detail for a longer period of time whilst maintaining the attention of the user.

Also, the content in young audience eLearning tends to be simplified and is often a subject taught globally. If it is part of a school curriculum then the module is likely to have a longer lifespan than training for the corporate sector, as the information is less likely to change. Corporate training may need updating more frequently as practices improve or new technology is introduced to a workplace, and it is more likely to go into more detail on a specific subject.

Having made the transition from developing for children to developing for adult professionals, what are the main similarities between those two groups?

Both adults and children love games! The younger the audience the more necessary they become, but having an interaction that requires the user to engage and respond in a fun way is beneficial to the learning experience no matter the age group.

They also share many of the same benefits. In a time where employees are increasingly beginning to work from home, eLearning allows employers to train recruits no matter their location and they can learn on the go or access resources from home. It also reduces the large costs of the classroom and in-person teaching, making it more accessible and providing opportunities to greater numbers of people.

Also, both aim to innovate and use new technology to teach in different ways. We are seeing a rise in the popularity of responsive eLearning and mobile-friendly content, both in corporate and young audience eLearning, and ways to harness technology like AR and VR have been implemented in schools and businesses alike, enhancing the experience of learners of all ages.

GuyKat tip: Include interactive elements such as games! For both children and adults.

What should you consider when creating an eLearning module for children?

As I mentioned previously, young learners can get bored and distracted easily, so try to keep them busy with a variety of interactions. Short videos, games, quizzes and animations are easy to add into your eLearning and make a big difference to the user experience. Even resources they can take away with them, like a printable worksheet or instructions for an activity they can do once the course is over, can help make sure the learning continues even after they have completed the module.

What should you consider when creating corporate eLearning?

It may be hard to believe but adults often tend to be more nervous to learn something new than children! The fear of failure may cause them to feel anxious or take an apprehensive approach to activities, so encouragement and positive reinforcement could be required in order to motivate them to continue. Adult learning should be steadily built upon and supported to avoid losing focus.

Adults are also usually more goal-oriented than children. They are either taking a course as a requirement of their job, in which case their goal is to complete it and receive a qualification, or because they have chosen to broaden their skillset. Either way, make the goals of the training clear upfront and ensure they are achieved by the end of the training. You could implement a function that allows the user to tick off objectives as they are completed to help them feel a sense of progress.

Whoever you are creating eLearning for, it is important to remember that people of any age are learning most effectively when they are motivated, challenged, involved and having fun!

GuyKat tip: Make the goals of the training clear upfront and ensure they are achieved by the end of the training.