2016 is the year of the learner – of getting to know them, understanding them, and putting effort into the relationship if you want to reap the rewards beyond success rates.
I believe, no longer is an ‘exit interview’ plus a monthly ‘learner survey’ enough to get insight about your learners, know what they like, love, why they recommend you and what makes them stay. I know that these two methods of learner research are the most common and as a provider, college or L&D team you get the same feedback month in month out because you ask the same questions, in the same format to the same people – so it’s inevitable.
Well, in the spirit of ‘new year’ this is my call to arms to make a change. I want you, the reader of this (who let’s face it, if you’re reading means you’re interested) to spark a change. To consciously look in places you’ve never looked, to remove the filters from your eyes when you look at your learner experiences and remove the assumptions from your questions.
How? Here are some suggestions…
Ask someone new to read your survey questions and give honest feedback.
Complete independent observations/filming learners having their experiences
Mystery shop yourselves
Run a focus group (we really recommend doing this independently so learners / staff can be more open and honest)
Then take this insight and really ask yourself, what does this mean to the learner? Are we giving the experience we want to in line with our brand/objectives/vision?
Get strategic with it, ask yourself this question regularly and make research scheduled and frequent.
Think you don’t need it…?
I meet loads of Apprenticeship providers who claim to know their learners and the experiences they have. They tell me ‘incidents’ don’t happen in their establishment or setting. But here is a story for you…
I was in a first meeting with a very well known, national Apprenticeship provider who told me how close they are to their learner experience and how closely they manage it. As they said this, a young Apprenticeship learner walked into the room saying “oh sorry, is this the wrong room, the lady sent me here” and he was quickly escorted out of the room to the correct floor of the building. His first experience on Apprenticeship day 1 – not off to the best start i’d say. If he wasn’t nervous when he arrived, he was when he left our room!
This is an example of how one small experience of a learner which I was lucky to witness could be an insight into operational challenges, marketing, signage, staff knowledge/information and so on…
We are experts in this, we do it day in and day out for both learners and employees (helping you see from the employees perspective e.g. induction) so we can help you shape and deliver this research. You get the benefit of someone independent who can give you real insight without having to worry about any internal politics!
I’d love to know what you think and please make your pledge to get rich and juicy insight from your learners this year. You never know what you might find!
About the author – Kate Carney
Kate Carney is the Chief Pattern Maker of Stitch Learning. The Stitch Learning Team are Learner Journey specialists, working with private training providers, colleges and organisations on their learner attraction, engagement and retention.
Kate has a background in all aspects of Marketing, Innovation and Customer Experience, Kate has worked for global blue chip organisations including BMW, E.ON and large training providers including JHP Group (now LearnDirect) and various recruitment businesses.
Kate has been part of the FE sector since 2011, working with national and regional organisations across the UK to improve their Learner Journey and learner marketing activity. Kate has a passion for helping providers to deliver the best experience possible for learners on programme across Traineeships, Apprenticeships or professional programmes.
Connect with Kate on Twitter @Chief_STITCH