Questions to Ask Learners Before Starting a Course

Make your participants’ online experience a success by identifying their strengths and weaknesses before they begin.

Students taking a computerized exam Students taking a computerized exam

After months of planning, designing and working, you’re ready to offer your first online course. It’s been a detailed process that involved buy-in from administrators and department heads, and training for your staff. You’ve got the technology set up and everything has been tested, re-tested and is as close to perfect as it’s going to be. Your team is without a doubt ready to make the leap to computer-based training.

But are your learners?

Organizations everywhere suffer from too much introspection. They are so internally focused that they forget to consider the people they’re serving. They neglect any kind of evaluation of how their audience will deal with whatever it is they’re serving up.

Online training is no different. Many of the same reasons that might have made it a challenge to get your own organization to adapt an online program hold true with your learners. They might fear technology. They might not have the right equipment. They might lack even the most rudimentary skills for working online. They might have a learning style that doesn’t mesh with what your course offers.

Online Learning Readiness Assessment

These are all hurdles that can be crossed, but you need to be aware of them before moving forward. A little preparation for both your staff and for the participants will make your course more successful. An online learning assessment will allow both learner and instructor to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Sample Questions

We use an orientation quiz with all the courses we build that asks participants to rate themselves in such areas as:

  • Comfort taking an online course
  • Uploading and downloading files
  • Researching information online
  • Sending and receiving e-mails
  • Participating in discussion forums

Think about what kinds of skills your learners will need to have to successfully complete the course, and put assessment questions related to these it into a “readiness quiz” to be completed before class begins. The results will tell students what to expect, and help you understand in what areas you’ll need to offer extra assistance.

Here are some examples from elsewhere that can help you figure out how to structure your assessment quiz:

Online Learning Assessment, Online Colleges

Readiness for Online Learning, Pennsylvania State University

Online Readiness Self-Assessment , Southern Arkansas University

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Photo credit: by Extra Ketchup, on Flickr