Assessing the Need and Profiling the Audience

Having a good idea as to whether or not there is need and demand for a particular course and learning about key characteristics of your potential learners are important elements to keep in mind when designing and creating a new course from scratch. Why, you may ask... well, if there's no need for the course, chances are there won't be many people taking it, so you may want to refocus your energy on courses that will benefit a larger, cross-section of the learning population. And when you know the key characteristics about your learners, you can design your course to meet their specific needs, which in turn will generate more positive and meaningful learning experiences.

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If you know that your learners are mostly female, married with children living in the suburbs, graduates from highschool who speak English, have some work experience in administrative positions and have good access to the Internet, as you can see in this Wordle:

Wordle with a sample learner profile

Then you are probably better off designing a course that will offer some flexibility, perhaps using a blended model (online with some face-to-face sessions) so that learners don't have to attend classes every day and don't have to arrange for childcare. Your content may include examples that are taken from administrative tasks and, since they are adult learners as opposed to children or youth, you will use different language and engage them in different activities.

However, if you are adapting content from an existing course for online of blended delivery you may not need to spend time collecting information about the need for the course nor the potential learners. In fact, chances are you may already have that information, either because it was given to you or because you have been teaching the course in the classroom and you know these elements already. In this case, you may want to skip to the section about course intent, as the next pages may not be of much interest to you.