One of our clients recently invited a group of their trainees to try out the first module of one of their online course. As designers and developers of the course, we thought this was an exciting opportunity to find out first-hand what our learners have to say. We were particularly intrigued to see how straightforward it is for first-time users to navigate their way around the course.
Nicola and I went along to the session hoping to get a sense of whether the course was as user-friendly as we'd intended. What we came away with was some really positive feedback and some interesting and encouraging insights into how learners use our courses.
Here's what we learned from our learners at the session:
- Give instructions... But not too many The learners responded positively to the concise written instructions featured in the course – they were key to helping them find their way around. However, it was also fascinating to see how curious and inquisitive learners are. If the visual markers are clear and it looks as if you should click something, learners will click! You don't always need to overcrowd content with overly-long written instructions.
- Less is more The learners at this session were trainees who told us that technical content can be longwinded, overwhelming and disengaging. They found our client's succinct paragraphs, with our interactive graphics providing a stimulating approach to content, a breath of fresh air. It's important to find ways to format content so it's easy to digest whilst maintaining its factual rigour.
- Different people learn in different ways This is a given but it was great to see different learner approaches in action. One learner told us they preferred to think aloud rather than provide detailed answers. Another said they did like to give comprehensive answers to really organise their thoughts on a subject. The session showed that it's key to tailor to diverse learners, in the way that the module includes activities such as "key learning" and "confidence check".
- Motivation is key Learners were especially keen on the certification area of the course, where they could gain a document as proof of completion. People usually have to complete online courses as part of CPD or qualification requirements – this was the case for these trainees. They were enthused to know that such an enjoyable course counted towards their career development. It was a huge motivator for them to know their time and effort counted.
- Online meets the real world The case studies featured in the course garnered a hugely positive response. Learners felt the course related to cases they were likely to encounter in their practices – it made the content more relatable and purposeful. They thought it was important that their online learning didn't remain online. It should reach out into their practice and demonstrate how it can help them in the real world.