User Personas

Creating a #UserPersona for the students and staff in a course sets the stage for #LearnerCentred #CourseDesign

Personas are a tool to highlight the needs of the different student and staff groups throughout the course design or updating process. Using them helps everyone involved in the project develop a shared understanding of these groups’ needs and create a course or activity that is engaging and accessible to the widest group.

Personas represents a “hypothesized group of users” including their “behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and the environment” (Wikipedia editors July 2015). They combine demographic information with the kind of details and visuals that will help bring the personas to life.

The creation of personas makes academic staff’s implicit understanding of students and the teaching team concrete and visual. They also help the group to better understand the needs of staff, including the lead academic, sessional instructors, guest lecturers, or anyone else who will be integral to the success of a course.

Personas have been widely adopted in marketing and user-centred design since Alan Cooper introduced them in his 1998 book The Inmates are Running the Asylum, but their use in higher education has not been widely documented. A few published examples do exist, for example from:

Persona templates for students, teaching staff and the academic lead are available elsewhere on this blog. Create personas for everyone that will be involved in the course delivery, or for people that you would like to get involved at a future date (for example, and new student demographic not currently represented).

See also: Course Mapping



Persona (user experience). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 29, 2015, from

Featured image: by InspiredImages CC0 Public Domain