Analyzing the learners who are going to be taking your instruction is an important step for the instructional designer. The instructional designer should strive to determine the learner's skills, knowledge, and attitude toward the learning before designing the instruction, by creating a learner profile.
Learners will generally share some characteristics, as well as differ in some ways. It is the job of the instructional designer to analyze learner characteristics and consider these when designing the instruction.
For example, say you are designing a training program for teachers on how to manage their classrooms. Some teachers may be new, having never taught in a classroom beyond their student teaching experience, and some may be veteran teachers with years of experience in front of students. So while all of the teachers would have prior knowledge of teaching, along with education, their experience level would likely differ.
The job of the instructional designer would be to create instruction that would be beneficial and useful to both sets of learners.
Analyzing learner characteristics will help drive the instruction. The Dick and Carey model of instructional design outlines a number of characteristics that the instructional designer should consider:
Conducting a learner analysis can be done through:
Using the previous example of designing training on classroom management for teachers, the learner characteristics profile might look something like this:
Another factor to consider is the environment in which the learner will be taking the instruction. Will the learning take place in a classroom with an instructor? In small groups with a facilitator? Individually online? It is important to keep in mind learner environment when designing instruction.
The learner environment will affect how the instructional designer both designs and delivers the training.
For the instructional designer, this means that group activities, such as role playing, can be incorporated. Students can interact with each other and share experiences. There will need to be an instructor who is facilitating the learning.
If the course was an online course, the needs would be different. Activities would have to be created in such a way that they could be completed individually, for example.
Margaux Judge has worked as an e-learning editor and instructional designer for over ten years, writing and editing a wide variety of courses, from technical topics to soft skills. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and Textual Studies from Syracuse University and a Master's degree in Television Writing from Boston University.