Challenging Your Vision to Get a Better View

July 13, 2018

  • Identifying your target audience.
  • Is narrowing your audience eliminating potential learners?


Providing education for the world is a daunting task.

Educating a group is an achievable goal.


Narrowing focus and ignoring potential clients feels like a crippling way to offer an online course. On the surface, any social group could send a course into a trending success overnight. However, under the surface, there are many more factors to take into account when developing a well-designed online course. Attempting to fulfill everyone’s needs, desires, and expectations without refining your audience is often a misstep. Individuals have specific goals, while groups have more diverse perspectives. Demographics reflect varying cultures and languages, and universally differing interpretations are unlimited. Focusing on a particular group does not eliminate opportunities for growth, it enables design to meet very specific needs on physical, emotional, and intellectual levels.


Empowering the learner to invest and proactively become part of an educational journey is key to learning. Inside Higher Ed reports dropout rates for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are around 90%. A study supported by the National Science Foundation determined that behavioral, linguistic, and social cues all play a role in online course engagement. Identifying generic behaviors, lingo, and social environment is frustrating and exhausting. By narrowing the focus to a specific population with similar educational, recreational, or social backgrounds, retaining engagement becomes more achievable and personable.


Complete this exercise to identify design elements that will meet the needs, desires, and expectations of those that truly wish to become part of your educational program.


Target Audience Exercise


The way that we act toward each other is a reflection of our behaviors, communication techniques and environmental pressures. It is also a predictor of the way that we expect to receive interaction from others. Perform an experiment to see how your targeted audience interacts. Identify a place or event that caters to your target audience. This may be a yoga studio, gym, social event, art gallery, or even a coffee house. Bring something to jot down notes, and an open mind. Observe the group’s behavior, linguistic tendencies, and social environment.

Here are some recommended questions to answer during the exercise:



Pay attention to the behavior of the individuals and groups that have gathered around you. When you understand how the individuals and groups act together you can begin to understand how to incorporate design elements that will feel natural and inclusive.

  • How are individuals communicating with each other (ex. verbal or nonverbal)?
  • How are they moving within the space (ex. forming a line/pattern or bumping into each other)?
  • Are there any cultural traditions or traditional greetings being exchanged?



Language is how we communicate with each other. Groups tend to create informal, verbal cues that are not easily translatable in formal language. Identify these cues. When developing instructional text, audio, and video include common words, phrases, and accents to appeal to the learner.

  • Listen to their conversations, what are the major discussions?
  • What phrases/keywords do they use?
  • How many and what regional accents do you hear?
  • Are there any words or colloquialisms being repeated?


Social Environment

Engagement is key to increasing course completion rates. Use common social elements to incorporate into course design. These aesthetic details cultivate online learning environments that are more visually appealing and socially comfortable.

  • What are common themes in the decor?
  • Is there a particular color trend in clothing or jewelry?
  • How many people are typically together in a group?
  • How long do the groups stay together before dispersing or leaving?
  • Are there any activities that they do as a group (a song, dance, or common motion)?


Use this exercise to record design elements that will appeal to the target audience. Incorporate their customary actions with activities that build on their traditional social behaviors. Develop material influenced by common linguistic accents, words, and phrases. Create a subculture inspired by familiar elements and decor. When you create an educational place that feels familiar and offers relevant learning, learners will feel more compelled to stick with it.



Here are some Dream See Do tips and features that will

enhance learning content and delivery for your target audience

Live-Video - Stay current and engaged with the audience with recurring, integrated, live-video chat sessions

Expressive Responses: Include response types to match familiar communication techniques

Content Blocks - Include relevant videos, audio, text, or documentation to suit targeted needs and expectations

Resource Bank - Include additional resources for more advanced learners to dive deeper



Our team can help you create and cultivate the most dynamic online learning community on the planet! Sign up today for a free 30 minute consultation ($125 value) with our Instructional Designer Lindsey, to create the most informative and engaging online course. Only 7 total slots available, so sign up soon!

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