Learner Needs Analysis: The Learning Provider

Some learning providers are accustomed to working with adult learners so are more familiar with managing the learning environment and accommodating the varied needs of adults. However, some providers, e.g. higher education institutions, need to work simultaneously with adult learners and school leavers. This can provide conflicts as the needs and motivations of the two groups may vary. Some organisations might have constraints around their physical premises or transport provision. Before launching a course, the learning provider or course organisers might wish to consider:

    *Access – Are the venue(s) accessible for people with disabilities or mobility impairment?

    *Premises – Are the classrooms appropriate for adults? E.g. sometimes if school premises are being used, the furniture is designed for children and the seating and tables are not suitable for adults. Also, the school environment may hold negative memories for some students which may hinder their learning. How could the rooms available be made suitable for an adult audience?

    *Schedules/Timetables – What times and combination of course options best suits the learner? Is there a deadline for when the course must be completed? When are tutors available? How long can students be reasonably expected to participate for in any one day?

    *Crèche/child-care facilities – Can childcare facilities be provided? If not, what is the impact of this on your group of learners – will they be deterred from attending?

    *Information Technologies (IT)/ Library facilities – Are the students required to use a library or computers? Can you reasonably assume all students have access to such services or do these need to be provided?

    Refreshment/coffee facilities – Social interaction is often a hugely important element in adult learning and plays a great role in creating a strong group dynamic, so it is important that some time is allotted for such interaction over a coffee/lunch break. Ideally, facilities would be available nearby but this may not always be possible

    *Orientation programmes – What orientation/induction programme needs to be put in place to welcome students and familiarise them with their environment and programme details?

    *Transport – Is the class venue easily accessible for the target group?

    *Course Literature – Is the documentation on the course presented in a clear comprehensible format? On reading the material, will students know what to expect, and what is expected of them? Does the information give students a thorough overview of what will be covered on the course?

    *Registration – Is the registration system easy to follow? Is it clear of jargon, acronyms, etc.? Could someone who has little prior experience of education understand what is expected?

    *Course Requirements – Does the course literature explain what skills students are required to have before commencing a course, e.g. keyboarding or language skills?

    *Pre, during and post course support – What support systems need to be put in place before, during and after the course? Are guidance/counselling services required? What follow-up support is needed?

    *Fee – Where fees apply, is the fee reasonable or is it likely to deter the audience you wish to attract? Are all possible costs covered or are students liable for additional fees, e.g. for use of computers or exam fees?