10 Tips to Better Learner Personas

Painlessly Create Learner Personas to use Across your Organization

Learner personas can take time and energy to develop. You need to determine which groups need personas, gather information, and build engaging personas from that information. Without the right resources it can be frustrating.

You may wonder about specifics such as:

    • The kind of information needed in a persona

    • The number of learner personas you'll need

    • How you can develop accurate personas

    • How to get buy-in from the rest of the organization

    • The quickest way to gather and compile information

We won’t get bogged down in the details of why learner personas are so important. There’s already enough information about learner personas to guide that conversation. Instead, in this blog we’ll focus on how you can quickly create accurate learner personas. Then you’ll see how you can share the benefits of personas across your organization.

What You Need to Know about Personas

Personas are fictional representations of real groups within your organization, and should include their strengths, hobbies, interests, and personal values.

Of course, it takes work to determine the common factors in each group of your organization. Some organizations like to sit face-to-face and conduct interviews to discover relevant details, while others utilize technology to speed information-gathering along.

Personas may Generalize—but Never Stereotype

Personas are based on data about actual people or groups.

Stereotypes, on the other hand, are often cliches that are stagnant, outdated, or just plain inaccurate. For example, a stereotype would indicate that adolescent boys are the most likely to play video games. The reality is that the average gamer is 35 years old, and women make up nearly half the gaming population. Imagine designing a video game based learning experience only to find out that you missed the target audience by 20 years.

The proper research will lead to accurate personas.

Learner Personas Need to be Specific to Learning

User personas, buyer personas, and learner personas can be similar, but it’s important that your learner persona is specific to learning.

Follow this list of 10 tips to quickly create accurate personas for your organization.

10 Pro Tips and Tricks to help you Create Accurate Personas People will Actually Use

learner persona template

1. Define which groups need a persona.

Decide which groups you’ll need to create personas for. That way you can get specific. If you need personas for the entire organization you’ll want to sort individuals into groups. This way you can begin to personalize your personas toward those people. Consider sorting by job responsibility, seniority, office location, etc.

2. Give each group or persona a name as if it were a real person.

To make it a habit to talk about personas, or to make it easy to see groups at a glance, name each persona for the individual it represents. For example: Marketing Mindy, Onboarding Oliver, or Developer Dan.

3. Assign each persona a picture of a real person.

Just like a real name, a profile picture of each persona gives them a more human and relatable feel.

4. Invite others to collaborate.

Different views will help create more accurate personas. Just remember to leave stereotypes at the door.

5. Use a persona template.

Instead of trying to decide all the criteria you need on your own, use a template from a trusted source to save time and reduce the pain of starting a persona from scratch.

Our Learner Persona Template is a great place to start.

6. Use a survey tool.

If you’re short on time, or want to reach as broad an audience as possible, you can create a survey to gather accurate information about the groups in your organization. Use the criteria included in the persona template along with any custom information you feel is necessary for your unique situation. SurveyMonkey and Google Forms are both great examples of free survey tools.

7. Look for patterns, tweak, and test.

Look for patterns, or clusters, of information in survey results that represent each group. Add these to your personas. Tweak your personas until they feel real and then put them to the test. Present situations and analyze how each persona would respond. Compare that to the group it represents. Make additional changes until each persona resonates with you and your team.

8. Update your personas regularly to keep them accurate.

You can quickly update learner personas, as needed, by conducting a few interviews, talking with your team or sending out a second survey to collect new results. It’s important to stay updated so your personas are an accurate reflection of the needs and strengths of the individuals currently in your organization.

9. Share learner personas around your organization.

Share the completed personas around your organization electronically or by printing them to hang in relevant departments. Hint: You can create and hang 3x5-foot poster boards of the cover slide from our template!

10. Identify and share ways for anyone to use the learner personas.

Give the individuals in your organization suggestions about different, or new ways, they can use learner personas. Using learner personas can help in the creation of programs, interaction with other departments, or developing proper tools for training or other inter-office tasks.

Tailor your Approach with Accurate Personas

With the right template and some creativity you can develop personas that will be used by many people and for many reasons. It’s an important step in understanding your employees and addressing their pain points through the proper training.