When organizations go forth in developing a course, a process is set in motion involving instructional designers, learner experience course developers, writers, editors, graphic designers, and other team members contributing to course content creation.
However, their work is not a mechanical exercise and they need guidance on how to produce course content that is tailored to their audience’s needs and aspirations for learning. This is where journey mapping comes into play.
To determine how plotting out a learner’s journey impacts the process used to create and sell online courses, let’s take a more detailed look at the ins and outs of journey mapping.
What is journey mapping in the world of training?
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Planning out a journey map
Before you venture forth to construct a map of your learner’s journey, there are a few questions you’ll want to keep in mind:
- What are the business goals and objectives you want to drive forward?
- Which learners is the map focused on?
- Who are the intended users of the map?
- What learner experience does the map aim to spotlight?
And by honing in further on the learner with the last point, these questions are prompted:
- What information or skills do learners need and want to learn?
- What kind of content will enable this learning?
- What is the best mode to deliver this content?
Ascertaining the answers to all these questions will guide the course development team to process a journey map that will help you develop and deliver the content your audience yearns for. And by providing exemplary learning experiences for your learners, the ability to sell courses online will also significantly expand.
Another prime source of data informing your business on how to construct your journey map comes from your analytics storehouse within your learning management system (LMS). The activity levels, progress, and performance of course participants throughout your course are measured continuously and can unveil more information to create personas and in turn direct you in what areas your journey map should place emphasis on.
Other avenues such as social media and customer surveys can provide valuable insights into learner perceptions and reactions to various aspects of the learning journey and your company’s brand. Your accumulated research into all these areas should enable you to paint a picture of what your customers go through as soon as they find out about your course.
Constructing a journey map
Mapping out a learner’s path visually is a powerful tool. It shows the stages or touchpoints through which learners progress, from start to finish.
“ … there is no “correct” way to format your customer journey map, but for each phase along the journey timeline, include the touchpoints, actions, channels, and assigned ownership of a touchpoint (sales, customer service, marketing, etc.).”Source
A simplistic map may look like this:
Awareness of the course → registration, purchase, and payment of the course → preparation prior to the course start date → course duration → evaluation and post-course
The purpose of this operation is to have course developers take the viewpoint of the learner as they navigate along this learning path. These developers gain an understanding of not only the needs and aspirations of learners but also their thoughts and feelings experienced at each stage of the process, including successes and pain points. As such, journey maps are not just limited to processes or tasks performed by learners but can even take the form of examining learners’ emotions through each stage of their journey and this can be done for each of your identified personas.
However, it’s not just course developers that can benefit from the journey mapping exercise. Administrators or managers can also get the inside scoop on what customers go through, and this can direct them in their operational activities.
No matter what your journey map is targeted toward, there are online resources available to assist you in constructing a journey map that suits the particular needs of your business. Now, having your ideal map of your learner’s journey is critical, but if you don’t have a clear idea of how it can assist your business, it won’t do you much good. So let’s look at what your map can reveal to you.
Why is journey mapping crucial?
Journey mapping is all about getting under the learner’s skin and figuring out what makes them feel triumphant and what frustrates them.
Being able to internalize these emotions will help course designers tackle underlying issues associated with the processes used to run or deliver the course, generate the content and course materials, and resolve any problems related to purchasing, payment, and registration procedures.
In addition, improvements can be made to your course and any gaps in knowledge and skill development that have been identified can be filled.
Your research and analytics data uncover problems at each stage of the learner’s journey. Starting from the:
- The audience’s perception of what your course offers them does not match their learning objectives
- The target audience does not identify with your brand image
- Marketing channels are not reaching your intended customers
Purchase, Registration, and Payment stage
- The course price does not coincide with the perceived value of the course
- The online enrollment and/or payment process is too difficult to navigate
- Inadequate support for enrollment and payment process
Preparation prior to course start date stage
- Information is lacking on how to log in
- Trouble using the technology used to navigate the LMS for the online course
- Course study materials are unavailable or difficult to obtain
Course duration stage
Learners face the following problems:
- Difficulty locating information in the online course platform
- Inability to understand course content - problems with presentation
- The content level is too advanced or not advanced enough
- The context of the course does not correspond to learners’ needs
- Course content is unengaging for learners
Evaluation, completion, and post-course stage
Quizzes, tests, and assignments:
- Learners’ level of understanding doesn’t correspond to the degree of difficulty found in the assessments
- Questions and instructions are worded in a confusing manner
- Feedback on course evaluation is not accessible or delivered through the inappropriate channel
- Skills and knowledge acquired in the course are not applicable to the job
- Credits, transcripts, certificates, and badges are appropriate awards and done in a timely fashion
- Poor retention of knowledge and skills after training is completed
- Dissatisfaction with overall course experience
How does journey mapping help with delivering better content?
Once these problems have been identified, corrective measures and solutions can be implemented in order to optimize training modules and expand their effectiveness. Actual unsatisfactory experiences brought up by learners in surveys and questionnaires can be specifically addressed with the appropriate changes to processes or course content and materials being made.
And filling in those missing components to enhance knowledge and skill acquisition will benefit future course participants. Active problem solving through brainstorming and discussions by your course development team can go a long way in providing quality in your courses and can open up dialogue and stimulate innovation in terms of always striving to achieve optimal satisfaction in their entire undertaking with learning.
The pain points highlighted in various stages can also point you towards which analytics data to zero in on. For your course development team, this data from previously run courses can:
- validate which changes need to be made.
- point out other pain points and areas to amend.
- anticipate future problems.
In effect, journey mapping can be used as the base to not only directly affect changes towards optimizing your course content but serve as a resource to interpret analytics data and even help you set key performance indicators (KPIs). In any event, the end result of being able to tackle improvements in an optimal fashion stems from utilizing a systematic approach to the analysis of data that starts with your journey map.
As you can see, journey mapping is a tool that can enable you to visualize focal points to examine and enact upgrades and refinements. At its core, the beauty of telling the story of your learners lies in its ability to provide deep insights into their perspectives and this is the ultimate guiding force that will help in developing the most impactful learning experiences. And in so doing, it also exerts a positive effect on your business to sell online courses on your own website.
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