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Who is learning and why?

In this video, Dr Chie Adachi introduces three examples of learner personas to highlight how, when and why different people choose to study online.
DR CHIE ADACHI: The world is full of learners. The digital now provides numerous opportunities for those with access to the internet to learn in new and different ways. When you open the web, information is everywhere. And the possibilities for connections are infinite. We use news sites to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world, Google to search for information, YouTube to watch tutorials, and social media to connect and communicate, both socially and professionally. The boundaries of formal and informal learning are becoming increasingly blurry and closely intertwined. As digital learning practitioners, it’s important to get to know our learners so we can carefully design for the specific types of learning experiences that they need.
To better understand who is learning online and why, let’s now meet with three digital learners from across the world who, just like you, are learning online for many different reasons.
SUSANA: Sawubona. Howzit. My name is Susana. And I live in Johannesburg. I studied fashion at university and have worked for many years in large corporate organisations. Since having my two children, it has been my dream to start my own online retail shop, showcasing local designers from across South Africa. Although I have an MBA, there is still a lot I need to learn to make this a reality. And so because I’m so busy, I’ve been taking short online courses to upskill and advance my career.
JORGE: Hola. I’m Jorge from Mexico City. I used to be a high school math teacher until I retired last year. But I still want to serve my community. So I’m now studying social work and aged care online. I haven’t used computers or the internet much before. But I’m learning a lot as I go. By the end of the year, I hope to obtain a certificate in caring for older people so I can continue helping others by volunteering at our local retirement home.
MEI: Ni hao. My name is Mei. And I live in China. I love to play tennis and use WeChat to talk with my friends and meet new people. Next year, after finishing school, my family wants me to study abroad for better work opportunities. I would like to go to Australia and study nursing. My English is OK. But Aussies use lots of words I don’t know. So I am trying to improve by taking online classes and watching TV shows, like Home and Away, on the internet.

In an increasingly complex, fast-paced and digital world, who is learning online and why?

As we discussed in the previous step, there are a number of reasons more and more of our learning is happening informally and online. In particular, for adult learners, there are various motivations for what we choose to learn and why we’re doing this online.

In this video, we meet Susanna, Jorge and Mei – three different types of digital learners from across the world. As you watch, consider why they’re learning online, how they’re doing it and what their learning goals are.

As we’ll discover throughout this course, putting ourselves into our learners’ shoes is critical in terms of designing and delivering digital learning experiences that suit particular types of learners and the outcomes they’re looking to achieve.

For example, FutureLearn has conducted extensive research about different learner personas or archetypes and encourages digital learning practitioners using this platform to keep these in mind when creating their courses.

Your task

Watch the video to explore different learner archetypes and then reflect on your own motivation for being a digital learner.

Which of the learners outlined resonated with you most and why?

Use the comments to share your reflections and discuss what other possibilities and opportunities digital learning offers different types of learners, including yourself.

Behind the scenes: Chie’s story

The three personas I outline in this video were created by imagining prospective learners for an open online course, much like the one you’re participating in now. Drawing on FutureLearn’s work on learner archetypes, I’ve created Susana (Advancer), Jorge (Fixer) and Mei (Preparer). When designing MOOCs like this course, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re addressing a diverse cohort of learners (in this case, some of whom are also Deakin students). This presents a challenging – but also fun – task for learning designers and practitioners.

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