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Why You Need Learner Personas in Healthcare

  • 3 Min Read

You want to get the most out of your continuing healthcare education programs, whether that means attracting more learners to them, better engaging them once they’re there, or being able to show clear results and returns. But before you can make any of that happen, you need to answer one question: What does your learner want?

In our previous article, we walked through three best practices in continuing healthcare education. Now, we want to take a deeper dive into one of them: the importance of knowing your audience and how you can use learner personas to help you do just that.

This was a topic Ruth Mullen and Alyssa Filippi, both instructional designers at D2L, touched on in a recent webinar, Best Practices in Continuing Healthcare Education. Click here to access the complete on-demand recording.

Why You Need Learner Personas

The purpose of building learner personas is, put simply, to create a visualization of the characteristics of the typical learners who will be taking your course so you can better anticipate their needs and design content that effectively caters to them. What are they looking to get out of the professional development opportunities they’re pursuing? How do they perceive continuing education in their field? What challenges might they face?

Factors you want to consider as you’re gathering information include:

  • The blueprint of a typical day (hours they work, etc.)
  • Responsibilities associated with their roles
  • Interactions they have with their peers
  • Existing skill sets and competencies they’ll bring to the table

Once you’ve answered the key questions, you can write the profiles for all of your personas. How comprehensive you want to make them is up to you. Simple learner personas could include only sample titles and descriptions, whereas other times you may want to bring them to life by assigning each a name and including a photograph or an illustration.

Learner Persona: Healthcare Professional

With all that in mind, what could a learner persona look like in healthcare? During their presentation, Ruth and Alyssa touched on an example—healthcare professionals such as nurses, doctors, personal support workers, and paramedics:

  • These learners spend most of their days on their feet.
  • They do shift work.
  • Likely, they have no or limited access to an office.
  • They need quick access to content.
  • It’s important for them to be competent in their roles.

Now you can leverage what you know about your learners to design courses that deliver the knowledge they need in the most convenient and effective ways. For example, you could incorporate bite-size or drip learning to help healthcare professionals prepare for high-stakes exams or employ knowledge repositories that contain job aides and quick reference materials.

Learn how you can use design thinking to create learning and development programs that meet the needs of workplace learners.

How to Implement Learner Personas in Continuing Healthcare Education

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) gives us a great example of putting personas to work in the real world. By embracing the Daylight user experience in Brightspace, ANZCA created three unique versions of its homepage for members, nonmembers, and ANZCA employees. Colin Lynas, Learning Technology Officer at ANZCA, explains:

“Each user persona sees information and widgets customised to their specific requirements. For example, we’ve used custom widgets and release conditions to display all the courses that the user has enrolled for within their department. We’ve found that it’s easy to create great-looking custom widgets without needing much programming experience—whenever we come up with an idea, it’s usually straightforward to implement using the tools in the D2L platform.”

The personalized, intuitive, and responsive learning experiences have been well received by learners and members. Since switching to Brightspace, ANZCA has seen a 22% increase in year-over-year unique active users. Click here to read more about ANZCA’s story.

Want to learn more about personas, learning objectives, transitioning from in-person to online learning, and other best practices in continuing healthcare education? Don’t miss the on-demand webinar.