Our course proposal asks you to clearly explain who your course is for. Take the time to give this thought. Ask yourself: Who are the learners this course is aimed at? Where do they learn, what are their motivations and aspirations? Are they leisure learners or career-driven? Are they degree educated or starting out with introductory content?
Each Course Description Page (CDP) promotes who a course is for. Aligning learners' expectations is crucial. Learners need to know they are enrolling in a course that is suitable for them. Courses are never for ‘everyone’, no matter how much we would like them to be.
Knowing your learners helps to design a course pitched at the right level.
Top tips for considering your learners
1. Embrace FutureLearn’s international cohort
FutureLearn courses are completed by a global network of learners from over 200 countries and territories. Consider a diversity of perspectives, thoughts, educational backgrounds, and experiences. Write your course content for learners for whom English is an additional language using a conversational tone of voice. If learners are likely new to learning online, include top tips about related study skills.
2. Include a discussion step in an early step of the course
Ask learners ‘Who are you and why are you here?’. Highlight to all that this is a global learning community and gain more insight into learner background and motivation. Be sure to include in discussion questions and social prompts ‘what X is like in your country or context’.
3. Use the demographics dashboard
In Course Creator, in the stats tab, select ‘demographics’ to view the age of your learners and the countries they are learning from.
4. Spend time on ‘pen portraits’ or learner research
FutureLearn has a learner-centred approach to course design and development. Put the learners at the heart of the learning experience. Take the time to map out: who are your expected learners? What are their needs and potential barriers to success? Doing this at the start of the design process will lead to better course design decisions, and save you time later on. If you have the capacity, interview people representative of your target learnership.
5. Download and explore our learner archetype research below.
6. Prioritise accessibility
FutureLearn has a commitment to accessible online learning and removing barriers to learning.
Throughout this partner site our design and build pages include recommendations for great courses. Accessibility is built into these recommendations. It is not a stand alone page on the site, because accessibility is not a ‘nice to have’ it is a key part of course development for every course. Prioritise the accessibility QA criteria throughout design and build.
Consider the following statistics and how you will strive to ensure your course meets their needs:
- Two thirds of FutureLearn learners are from outside the UK.
- 9 million people in the UK (estimated) are deaf or hard of hearing, according to the British Deaf Association. [Source]
- 10% of the UK population are dyslexic, and 4% have severe dyslexia, according to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). [Source]
- 31% of our learners study on a smartphone, and 10% on a tablet. Many smartphones have in-built accessibility features - they are often preferred by people with physical or motor disabilities.
- Colour blindness or colour vision deficiency (CVD) affects around 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women worldwide. [Source]
- Autism affects about 1 in 100 people, according to The National Autistic Society.
- Over 11 million people living in the UK have a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability. [Source] People with poor manual control may use an alternative input method called switch access scanning. Switch access allows the user to activate a button with the head, finger or other means to choose individual items rather than using a keyboard or touch screen.
Find out more about considering your learners in steps Designing for our learners and Defining the Proposition: what you're making and who you're making it for in How to Create a Great FutureLearn Course. Contact your Partnership Manager for access.
FutureLearn learner archetypes
In 2017, FutureLearn researchers explored learners’ motivations to learn with us. As a result we defined seven learner archetypes, themselves divided into three broad context areas: Work and Study, Personal Life and Leisure.
For each archetype, we:
- defined their characteristic motivations
- summarised example needs and values in relation to FutureLearn and courses
- identified behavioural trends
- recorded key demographic information
Archetypes are designed to help us all to understand our learners and what they need from FutureLearn and your courses.
The seven archetypes are:
You can find out the breakdown of each archetype on a course run by accessing the Stats Dashboard and downloading the ‘Archetype Survey Responses’ CSV file. You must have the author or organisation admin permission to access this area.
The archetype survey is only presented to learners on listed courses such as courses that aren’t part of a program or a degree or on the sponsored model.
Read more about accessing datasets.