Imagine how a clothing store that only sells one size and one style would do in a diverse community. Some consumers will find the perfect fit, but most will leave feeling disappointed, frustrated, and powerless. But if the same shop adapts and reflects the community it serves, there will be many different options for all kinds of people. It becomes a valuable and popular asset, no longer limited to the few that could find clothes before. The same holds true for learner-centric courses.

A learner-centric course is a paradigm shift where we think of our learners as active participants versus passive ones. Courses are accessible, relevant, and relatable. If you don’t make a connection with your learners you may find they disengage, feel anxious, overwhelmed, or have low motivation. An inclusive curriculum is one that suits the needs of all learners and has been custom cut to fit. Through consideration and reflective questioning, a course can be broadened to appeal to the largest number of learners, regardless of their background or needs.

Incorporate these three concepts the next time you work on your course.

Get to know your learners

Some activities that will help you gain a better understanding of your learners are:

  • Conducting an audience analysis and user personas to identify your target audiences
  • Conduct a needs analysis
  • Collect both quantitative and qualitative data to inform your course design with feedback loops such as surveys, polls, interviews, focus groups

After you take the time to understand your learners, their needs, and expectations, you can use that information to make more informed decisions. You can continuously learn from them and the collected data to perpetually improve your course. It is important to know what is and is not working.

Design for all with universal design

Design and maintain your course with a universal mindset. Incorporating universal design principles into your course will lay the framework for an inclusive learning experience for ALL your learners. Universal design is producing a product or service that is usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. To break down each component of universal design:

Usable Design – The measure of how well your learner can use your course to achieve a defined goal effectively, efficiently, and satisfactorily.

Accessible Design – The needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered.

Inclusive Design – Understanding and enabling your learners of all backgrounds and abilities. Including those who may otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

Think of it this way:

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Verna Myers, DEI Expert and Author

…then accessibility is ensuring everyone can get to the dance floor.

Tailor your course

Move away from a one-size-fits-all course by tailoring the course with consideration to your learners’:

  • Mechanics: How will your learner perform the task? What are their visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive needs?
  • Language and culture: Will they be able to perceive and relate to the course content? Is it inclusive and use plain language?
  • Skills: What is their existing knowledge? Is my course relevant? Does it actively engage?

When making these considerations, it includes the entire learning experience of your learner. So review the instructional approaches you use, and digital and physical content such as text, video, graphics, photography, sounds, handouts, scenarios, and class exercises.

Get the guide to creating learner-centric courses

We help guide you through the details for each of these considerations for understanding your learners and designing an inclusive course.