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Podcast 8 min

What is the learner-first model?

Designing a learner-focused training model may sound difficult, but the rewards far outweigh the investment. Ryan and Jude discuss the benefits of a learner-first online training course model and how you can get started today. Find out how on episode 8 of The CoLab Podcast!

10 May 2021 by Rocco Brudno

G’day Mates!

Welcome to The CoLab podcast. My name is Ryan Macpherson, CEO and Co-Founder of Coassemble, the online training platform revolutionizing how teams train. For this episode, I’m joined by fellow Co-Founder and CPO of Coassemble, Jude Novak. Today Jude and I are going to talk about the learner-first model and why it’s important to design an online training course with your team in mind. Let’s dive in, shall we?

About the CoLab Podcast

The CoLab Podcast is the best business training advice from experts in the field on sharing knowledge and growing teams successfully at scale. In each episode, host Ryan Macpherson will chat with guests about entrepreneurship, strategy, management, leadership, and the value of elevating the employee experience. Ryan will also share his insights on proven methods & strategies that helped teams grow.

To listen to the full episode, click the link below to hear CoLab wherever you enjoy podcasts most.

What you’ll learn in today’s episode

Many teams are learning how to share knowledge and grow effectively at scale. Though the topics and guests will be different, we’ll always be looking through that lens to create a powerful employee experience. In today’s episode, we’ll dive into:

  • What is the learner-first model?

  • Why learner-first benefits online training courses

  • How to implement a learner-first online training course model

  • And more!


Strap in, it’s gonna be a great episode!

What is the learner-first model for an online training course?

Jude asks Ryan if he could dive into what Coassemble defines as the learner-first online training course model. Ryan steps back a bit to frame the picture of how we got there.

Referencing user experience or “UX,” Ryan begins his definition by talking about how most technology has begun focusing on the end-user. Designing software experiences around users ensures higher engagement as well as better outcomes from the experience.

With online training courses, Ryan says this same focus is crucial. The learners or “end-users” of the platform need to have a good experience—otherwise, they won’t engage or meet the expected outcomes. The quote below sums up exactly what Ryan says is the starting point for making an online course.

"If we're going to create something that's going to impart education or knowledge for someone, there's a number of factors that are really important in that. And it doesn't start with what content you've got. It doesn't start with what technology you've got. It actually starts with, "Okay. What do we know about that person?"

Ryan Macpherson

Ryan’s point is that you need to know everything about your learners to create an effective online training course. And learning about why your online course audience matters can make the online training experience that much more effective.

The best definition of a learner-first online training course model is, whatever knowledge you want to share or outcomes you expect, you need to start with the end-user of that experience. Most traditional training models consider the knowledge first, the outcomes second, and the learner third. The learner-first model flips this online training method on its head, starting with the learner and how an online course benefits them.

💡Pro Tip: If you need help figuring out how to establish a learner-first online training course model, rest easy—our team made a guide just for you. Whether you’re trying to leverage new online course creation software or just need some ideas to get started, our eBook has tips for you.

Download “How to establish a learner-first training model” here 👉 ebook download 👈

What are the benefits of a learner-first online training course model?

A learner-first approach to making an online training course has several advantages compared to traditional learning methods. Below are some of the most recent benefits found around this new approach:

  • LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report found that 59% of organizations have prioritized upskilling internally over all other training. This means looking at your current team and assessing what knowledge would help upskill them.

  • This article by Raconteur found that 58% of employees in 2019 wanted an online training course method that fit their schedules. This ranged from offering contextually relevant training to teams when they need it as well as training that’s accessible from anywhere.

  • The last is a lesson Ryan has seen time again from Coassemble customers that he tries to encourage anyone interested in online training to accomplish. Check out the clip below:

“Well, I think, online training really only delivers a "Big Bang" to the business, when it changes someone's trajectory... It's actually empowering more people in a business to design content that's relevant rather than necessarily coming from one gold standard place. And so, I'd argue, that it's not more work, it's actually empowering others to use the tools, to basically impart the information, that's probably best fit for their audience.”

Ryan Macpherson

That business impact starts with the individual impact. Imagine if just the juniper members of your team gained the knowledge to accomplish senior quality work? Imagine beginning a training program that can run on autopilot with team leader input? That’s how designing learner-first online training courses can benefit a business.

The learner-first model of online training courses leverages the best resource in your business, your team, to create a powerhouse pool of talent and knowledge. As Ryan says, it’s not rocket science—it’s actually asking your team how you can empower their success.

How to implement a learner-first online training course model

Implementing a learner-first online training course model is actually pretty simple, whether you’re starting from scratch or trying to optimize your current training process. The goal is to gather as much information about your learners as possible. To do that, we recommend using our learner persona online course template.

Our template was designed to gather plenty of information on learners to guide your instructional design of an online training course (you’ll need PDF software to use it). Ryan explains that, just like with any UX-based process or software, you have to do your research before you can actually start design.

Jude pauses halfway through and asks Ryan why this all sounds like just more work for business owners, team leaders, and trainers. Ryan replies that, though there is more work, the impact is far larger. Without doing this research upfront, Ryan has even found that training can be counterproductive, negatively affecting learners and weakening the training process.

When you’re designing the training, have your persona template up and handy. Use it as a reference to make sure you’re creating the best online training course with the learner in mind. Once you’re ready to deliver the training, consider a method Ryan has found perfect to prove the value of the learner first model over traditional training—split-testing.

Create a course you think would work for sharing knowledge with team members. Then, review it, and design it to focus solely on the learner as a second course. Share both with your team and see which they engage with more and which drives impact. We already know the answer, but sometimes you have to see it to believe (and trust us, you’ll be a believer after a few rounds of split-testing).

So stop sharing knowledge and training that isn’t relevant to your team or isn’t effective to engage them. Start learning what your team needs to succeed and how an online training course designed with them in mind can benefit their impact on your organization.

Try rapid online course creation software for free!

Ryan and Jude don’t normally do a product bump, but this episode is special. Since we’re talking about the learner first model for creating an online training course, we have some exciting news!

If you want to try out creating and delivering engaging content with an all-in-one online training course creation software, give Coassemble a try! It’s free to try our platform—we're pretty sure you'll like what you see. You can leverage the free persona template and eBook above and test out our proven practices for yourself.

Subscribe for more episodes

The CoLab Podcast is a twice-monthly series that will include guests as well as Ryan providing expert knowledge on sharing knowledge, employee experience, and growing teams successfully at scale. To stay up to date, click subscribe wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts to receive the latest episodes.

Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time.

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