WikiEd Resource Development/needs of the people who will learn

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Gathering information about the people who will use resources and the context in which they will be used is seems so simple and logical. But, it is actually the part of design that is frequently neglected or entirely missed out. Without really finding out about learners, materials can be totally irrelevant or ineffective. There are many, factors to consider about learners and contexts. Ultimately you will have to decide how and what is going to be most relevant to your own design and how detailed you need to get.

You can collect information by:

  • Talking to and observing people/learners
  • Carrying out focus groups
  • Reading relevant information
  • Using questionnaires
  • Conducting pre-design workshops
  • Reviewing evaluations of similar materials
  • Talking to other associated people who could have useful input

Information you might want to consider about the learners:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Reasons for wanting to use the materials
  • Support needs
  • Level of prior education or knowledge in the area
  • Learning styles
  • Skill levels
  • Computer literacy
  • Cultural backgrounds - language, traditions, sensitivities
  • Work histories
  • Literacy and numeracy needs

Information you may need to know about the context in which they will learn:

  • Where are the materials going to be used?
  • How are learners going to get materials - eg do they need to be designed for print?
  • What access to supporting resources will there be?
  • What access to computers?
  • What roles are learners going to take as they use the materials?
  • What roles are teachers going to take?
  • What barriers or constraints exist that might need to be overcome in order to use the materials?
  • Do your intentions or goals need to change as a result of what you find out?

Finding out this sort of information does not have to done in a formal manner, nor does it need to take a long time. But it is required if you want to design and develop materials that are genuinely needed by learners, that suit them in terms of pace and voice, and that use enjoyable, effective teaching strategies.