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February 5, 2020

5 Characteristics Unique to the External Learner

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Learning and development professionals today have their plates full. Not only are they charged with developing high-quality and impactful training for internal learners, but they're often also tasked with creating content for external learners, from resellers to channel partners to distributors.

To create effective content, L&D professionals need to be in tune with learners' day-to-day needs. Get started by reviewing these five characteristics unique to the external learner:

1. Autonomous & self-directed

Whereas internal learners are often required to use their employer's learning management system to complete training, whether for onboarding or compliance, external users aren't bound to your organization; they're independent. In fact, they may represent several different companies in addition to yours. If external users can't access your LMS quickly and intuitively, they may choose not to use your learning platform and do business with another company altogether.

A primary goal of your LMS for an external learner is to decrease time to market while increasing sales efficacy and efficiency, all while bolstering their competitive edge. For external learners to use your LMS on a regular basis, the platform must be easy to use from beginning to end.

2. Practical & results-oriented

Unlike internal users, external learners may consume content from several different LMSs, including their own company's. Busy resellers, channel partners and distributors appreciate quick, digestible pieces of content they can use to solve their immediate concerns and then move onto the next task. Association members may also need to take required training or keep certifications updated, in addition to their daily workload. Through microlearning, external learners can digest necessary information without interrupting the flow of their day.

3. On-the-go

Internal learners typically access LMS platforms from known devices, like their desktop computer or smartphone. However, external learners access content from various devices—both known and unknown—anytime, anywhere. Depending on the day, they could be at a trade show, the airport or a customer's brick-and-mortar location.

External users must be able to easily access content, whether product manuals or maintenance instructions, on the go. Your LMS can't slow down resellers' and channel partners' sales process by requiring them to be at a desktop computer. Mobile access allows for just-in-time training with easy-to-read text and graphics, seamless navigation and social learning interactions through messaging.

4. Experience-focused

Because personalized learning boosts engagement, L&D professionals should tailor LMS deliverables to the learner's persona. With the more advanced and robust LMS systems of today, learning professionals can adapt LMS objectives not only to roles or responsibilities but also to a learner's behaviors, social media interactions, past topic preferences and organizational branding. For external learners, LMS platforms can be further tailored based on trade show attendance, documents they've accessed and contract status, further enhancing your LMS's appeal.

5. Driven by multiple responsibilities

Finally, where internal learners tend to only access their organization's LMS for learning and development, external learners often have multiple responsibilities. This means they need to share data and content with other businesses in a fully developed and integrated learning ecosystem. By integrating customer relationship management technology together with web traffic tools, customer service apps and partner relationship management platforms, channel partners and resellers can access your learning solutions in their flow of work while checking off items on their lengthy to-do list.

By understanding the needs of both internal and external learners, you can maximize your learning platform while creating robust, engaging solutions for all types of users. With an expert's help, you'll see the value that an LMS can bring to your business.

The best LMS is one that accommodates your entire organization, internal and external learners alike. Sign up for an Absorb LMS demo today to discover if Absorb is right for you.