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5 Tips for Creating Learner Personas

adult learning behavioral science corporate training gamification instructional design motivation Apr 03, 2020


What is a Learner Persona?
Learner Personas are a fictional representation of your targeted learners. They are based on real data about learner demographics and behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.



How are Learner Personas Created?
Learner personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of new and seasoned employees – both “good” and “bad” -- who might align with your target audience. You’ll collect data that is both qualitative and quantitative to paint a picture of who your typical learner is, what they value, and how your program fits into their daily lives.



How do you use a Learner Persona?
In order to bring together what you learn during assessments, surveys, and interviews, the next step is to develop a set of personas. Personas are composite characters that represent typical learners in your target audience segments. They do not reflect a single person, but rather are a combination of various employees, and portray the types of people you are designing for.

Personas are a detailed description of your learner and what they want to accomplish. Usually the persona includes a short narrative describing the learner and are a useful design technique to get a confident start in the analysis phase. A properly framed learner persona will enable effective communication between members of the design team. Personas enable a more focused, effective, and in-context gamification strategy to drive motivation in learners.

The most effective personas are going to emerge out of a learner analysis that includes interviews and real conversations with sample learners, as well as supervisors and other stakeholders in the training.



Learner personas are:

  • Hypothetical - Not real people
  • Archetypal - Not average users
  • Very specific - Name, background, picture, etc.
  • Not the same as job roles



Use these tips to get the most from your Learner Personas:

  • Schedule conversations with sample members of your target learners. Even a few conversations will help you remember there are real people behind the personas.
  • Although this is no place for politically correct conversations, be sure to watch that stereotypes and social judgments don’t slip into your personas. (Ex: All Millennial want to use mobile devices for training.)
  • Build empathy for the target learners by naming and adding photographs to your personas. The more you can imagine their life and their story, the more likely you are to understand who they are.
  • It is OK to have more than one persona for your target learner group.
  • Test your assumptions early and often.


Let's Play!

Follow this link to download a FREE version of Sententia's Match-a-Mo Game - a discovery game for Learner Persona Design.




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