Reflection 2: Understanding the Learner

It’s such an obvious concept – you need to know your learner in order to build a suitable and effective learner experience. But in practice, the motivations of the learners are often met with bemusement or scorn. In every field I’ve worked in (which now encompasses ESL, Engineering and Medicine), the learners all asked the same question: 

“Will this be on the test?”

So we roll our eyes and talk about the lack of engagement in today’s learner. Then we proceed to create learning experiences that aren’t meaningful for students. And we continue to blame the students for not being engaged. 

But if instead we really took the time to understand our learners and what motivates them, we could build much more effective learning experiences. This week’s material really emphasized the importance of understanding the learner holistically in order to bring their motivations and interests into the learning design. 

I actually love the idea of creating learner personas in order to inform learning design. I think it’s an extremely powerful tool, especially if they are developed from data gathered directly from the students. The mock up that I produced for this week’s discussion was not data-driven, but it was still a fascinating exercise to really try and understand the students. I would love to take the time to create a genuine learner persona for at least one of the projects I’m working on. 

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