Personas are great. They help us ‘get into the minds’ of learners and empathize with them, paving the way for us to create something that the audience will find useful.
But I’ve found that there is a drawback to this approach. No matter how detailed you make the personas, they are but character profiles, and it’s really difficult to identify with a fictional entity. Yes, I’m aware of Yoda. What’s not to love about this wise old Jedi master? But I’m not talking about such strong fictional characters… the ones we tend to create are shallow and superficial, even if we happen to describe the color of their eyes and what they like for breakfast.
The answer? Find a real person who closely matches the learner profile. This could be (if possible) someone you know personally, a friend, a colleague, or even an acquaintance. If not, find one or more people from the learner group to shadow for a period of time. The advantage is that you get the full package – strengths, weaknesses, struggles, idiosyncrasies, and all.
Once you have a live person to inspire your solution, there’s no stopping you from coming up with something remarkable.