Inspritational Nugget: You are the Learner’s Advocate

Today’s inspirational nugget puts us in our learner’s shoes. The content we create doesn’t get sent out into the void, never to be seen again. Real people have to sit at a desk and consume whatever we create, right along all those 6-second Vines and 140-character tweets.

To be an advocate for your learner, you need to consider all of the other things competing for their attention. Grab your learner’s attention and hold it. The big question is: How?

Who are your learners?

The first step in figuring out how to keep your audience’s attention is to understand your audience. You can’t be an advocate for anyone if you don’t understand who they are or what they do.

Are you creating training for:

  • Faculty or students
  • Supervisors or Call Center reps
  • Salesperson or IT professionals

Make sure the language, style, structure, and content are appropriate for your learners.

How will your learners use the content?

Gather all of the information you can about the technical level of your audience and consider how they will use the content you’re creating.

Does the learner have to pass a quiz at the end?

  • Tell them at the beginning of the module.
  • Give them a hint about what might appear on the quiz.
  • Allow them to review the content before taking the quiz.

Is this training a yearly compliance video that employees have to complete every year?

  • Remember that your learners could see the training several times.
  • Add a new feature each year.
  • Allow them to test out at the beginning of the module.

Is this training standing between your learner and chocolate cake?

OK, chocolate cake is probably not awaiting our learners, but perhaps they have to complete the training before they can adopt a pet or apply to lead student organization.

  • Keep the content brief, but don’t leave anything out.
  • Make it fun.
  • Let learners know how much is left before they can bring Fluffy home.

Give your learners options.

Good Instructional Design is accessible to all learners, which means compatibility with screen readers and Closed Captioning for audio. Including a Mute button with a Closed Captioning button means learners can choose to read along with the audio or in silence.

You could also give your learners options regarding how they navigate through the course. If the content doesn’t require a specific order, why make your users go through the course in a specific order? Organize your content into chunks, and allow your learners to choose in what order they go through the course. You can still track progress and require that learners complete each section, but give them a little ownership by letting them pick the order.

Trust Your Gut

If you’re putting a course together and you don’t like how a slide or interaction is coming together, change it. Don’t force yourself to keep an element in your course if you aren’t proud of it or simply don’t like the way it looks. Put yourself in your learner’s shoes for a moment and think about how you’d react if you were going through the course yourself.

Grow & Evolve

Instructional Design is a relatively new field, so we are constantly learning new methodologies and techniques to provide meaningful training content to our learners. The technology we use to deliver that content is also constantly changing. So for this reason, it is important that we strive to improve on our own skills and be on the lookout for new ideas for delivering meaningful training content to our learners.

Challenge yourself to incorporate a new technique into your training. See what other Instructional Designers are doing with their training and see if you can borrow some element for your next project.


What does being an advocate to your learners mean to you? What do you do to make sure you’re providing the best training solution for your learners? Tell us in the comments below.


After receiving a Master’s Degree from NAU in Literacy, Technology, and Professional Writing, Sarah returned to her home town of Omaha, Nebraska where she gathered almost 10 years of experience in Instructional Design. Sarah loves utilizing technology to create training, whether to teach people how to use a computer system, improve their sales numbers, or incorporate a new process into their daily routine. Her background in English and Technical Writing helps keep her focused on writing and editing to provide clear and concise content for training. When the opportunity opened up with the Learning & Professional Development team, Sarah and her family (which consists of a bicycle-obsessed husband, two energetic daughters, and an annoying German Shepherd) jumped at the chance to move back to Flagstaff where they can ride bikes, hike, camp, ride bikes some more, and generally enjoy the outdoors without humidity or mosquitoes.

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