How to Create a Learner Profile

Blog post by Melissa Jones, Instructional Designer

I had the privilege of speaking on creating learner profiles at the eLearning Guild’s 2017 Learning Solutions conference in Orlando, Florida in March. The session was a fruitful and relevant discussion of the creation, practical application and challenges of using a learner profile. My session was also selected to be sketch-noted! The artist sat in on my session and sketched out the key points as the discussion progressed. Check it out below!

learner profile

Creating a learner profile is a proven practice that we use at TLS Learning for every project. We know that it works and we utilize the profile as a guide at every stage of our 5D process.

In order to make the learning that we create effective, engaging and impactful to both the learners and the businesses that they’re working for, we need to keep the learner, the ultimate user at the core of all decisions. So what’s the process?

Learner Profile Step 1: Gather information

We create learning experiences for learners… so in order to create a learner profile, we need to dig in and find out as much as possible about the individuals we are creating for. A few of the questions we ask include:

Ask questions that are important for YOUR specific context and need.

Learner Profile Step 2: Put it all together

Use a form that works for your purpose, team and organization to keep all of the information you’ve gathered in Step 1 organized. Condense and key in on the most important information that you’ve discovered and will help guide each step of your project.

This is the template that we use at TLS Learning.

learner profile worksheet

Learner Profile Step 3: Use It

Doing all of the work in Steps 1 and 2 is only helpful if you use it! Hang up a copy at your desk so it’s visible. Hang a copy or project it during project team meetings. Revisit it frequently. A learner profile isn’t only useful for the instructional designer on a project; it’s beneficial for the entire team! When making decisions about course flow, scenarios, content and learning activities, imagine the learner that you’ve created the profile for and ask yourself if it would fit his or her characteristics.

There are several consequences of NOT creating a learner profile that are important to note. There is more of a chance to create content that doesn’t match learning objectives, assumptions can drive decisions that don’t match business goals and if you’re not understanding the characteristics of your learners you may create scenarios that won’t be relevant or draw meaning for the learners.

Are you creating learner profiles for the projects that you work on? What do you include and what challenges have you faced in creating profiles in your organization?