Learner Personas (Instructional Design/Planning, Spring 2017)

Below is the Learner Persona profiles created by myself and my partner, David Sampson, as part of Instructional Design and Planning, 5100. In this project, we had to ID who will be our learners (semester long project) and discuss: Discovery, Immersion, Connection and Detachment, from the article: “A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life“. (Kouprie and Sleewijk Visser, 2008)

Learner Persona Profile #1


Kartik: Visually impaired student from Delhi, India enrolled as a freshman at Stanford university in computer science


Kartik is an 18-year old, visually impaired student from India who has been accepted at Stanford University in the Computer Science program.  He lives in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi where his father owns a car accessory store and his mother is a homemaker.  He has a twin sister and older brother.  Although blind from birth, Kartik hasn’t let his impairment keep him from achieving his dream of becoming an engineer.

Kartik excelled in Science and Technology in school, but he discovered that blind students are prevented from pursuing science and technology courses after grade 10.  Not willing to take “no” for an answer, Kartik challenged the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to allow him to study Science and Technology in grade 11 and beyond.  The CBSE initially wasn’t convinced that he could successfully process the visual material (graphs, diagrams, and models) that are a required part of the program.  After writing more than two dozen letters to the CBSE requesting permission to continue his studies, he was finally allowed to proceed.  Fortunately, his secondary school – Delhi Public School, R K Purham – was willing to help him with the materials, and he successfully completed the program, scoring a 96 percent in his class 12 CBSE exam, a first for a blind person.

Although scoring 99 out of 100 in his Science and Technology test with the Score Foundation, he was denied the opportunity to take the entrance exams for the Indian Institutes of Technology (known as the Joint Entrance Exams – Advanced), the sole entrance exam to the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology.  Although disappointed that he couldn’t attend the schools that he wanted, he didn’t let this setback keep him from pursuing his dream.

With the help of an NGO, Kartik applied for, and received, a full scholarship at Stanford University.  Katik is preparing for his Freshman year in the Computer Science program. Although having some experience with English at his secondary school, Kartik will need more advanced English training in order to prepare for his time in the United States.

Katik is clearly a very dedicated and persistent student.  He is highly motivated to complete the degree.  Additional English language training will provide him with the skills necessary to be successful.




Act to Rise for Impact in Special Education is an organization dedicated to providing special education opportunities to the visually impaired in India.  As stated on their web site, “Through language fluency and conceptual learning, these Modules have helped transform their education, increase employability and thus boost their self-confidence dramatically.”  Kartik will face many challenges as a visually impaired student in a foreign environment. But our Special Education Model (SEM) on learning the English language will provide him with training that will help him in his transition to this difficult environment.

The SEM will be based on teaching English language skills needed as a Freshman entering college.  It will use technology to enhance the learning experience including computers, mobile phones, and other devices designed for the visually impaired.  The course will also use software that will enhance the learning experience including Braille translation software, speech access software, and scanned material access software.


Kartik is a highly-motivated student and will likely succeed at the course given the proper resources.  He will need resources to translate the lessons from Hindi, his native language, to English, and from English to Hindi. It is likely that he will need a tutor to assist him with items such as installing software and hardware, at least during the early stages.  The tutors should also be available to make sure that he gets started on the course and that he feels comfortable doing the lessons on his own.

Special consideration needs to be made for the location of the lessons since Kartik may or may not be able to travel.  We will need to design the course to provide an independence of location, such as mobile learning, or learning from home.  It will be important for Kartik to meet and interact with other students at Stanford University and the surrounding community.  We will include opportunities for him to make these connections before he leaves for the United States.

Kartik has some basic English skills that should help him advance quickly through the material.  Early stages of the instruction should focus on reinforcing and correcting his existing knowledge. Later stages should focus on introducing some of the advanced skills that will be necessary in the Computer Sciences program at Stanford.


We will need to build a SEM that recognizes the difficulty that visually impaired students have with English language lessons.  Many language courses use visuals to enhance the learning experience, but we will need to find a way to translate these images into spoken words that convey the same meaning. We will need to find ways to support him in his native language of Hindi when he has questions or problems that can’t be resolved in English.  It will also be beneficial to him if he can connect with other students from India who are enrolled in the same program, or similar programs.  Because of Kartik’s high motivation, a self-paced course will be an appropriate model for the course.

Learner Persona Profile #2


Sunjay: A visually impaired student from the Punjab region in India. He is enrolled at University of Colorado at Denver in Biology.


Sunjay is a 17-year-old visually impaired student that recently decided that he was going to attend CU Denver for college. Though he is visually impaired, he is not completely blind. He comes from a middle-class family in the Punjab region of India. His father is an engineer and his mother is a teacher at the local elementary school. He is the oldest of three children. He has family that has studied in the United States, but not at CU Denver, where he is going to attend.

Sunjay enjoys music, hanging out with his friends, and playing sports that visually impaired individuals can play such as bowling and swimming. He is attending CU Denver to study biology to hopefully attend Medical School at CU Denver Anschutz Medical School after he is done with his undergrad.

Sunjay is coming to the United States for the second time, but this will be his first time in Colorado. He is moving to Denver early to try to get a feel for things, a month before fall semester starts.


Sunjay is going to need help adjusting to life outside of India, and he is also going to need help taking on college courses. Though he was a good high school student, this new-found independence is going to be an adjustment for him. He is going to have to utilize ARISE Impact to help with self-learning, and to get techniques to help him in his classes.

ARISE Impact is a non-profit from his region in India that can help him succeed in this stage of his life. The content and methodologies that they have already created to assist children that have some type of disability should help Sunjay in his classes.

Our Special Education Model (SEM) is going to focus on learning and speaking the English language because this is going to be something Sunjay will need help with in his new environment. He speaks a little English, but not enough to feel comfortable in a new city. This SEM will utilize technology to help Sunjay learn these new skills including computers and mobile devices designed for those with visual impairments like Sunjay has.


Sunjay is going to have quite a few obstacles to deal with entering this new, foreign environment. He is going to want to do things other than school work as well. He is going to join clubs on campus, he is going to make new friends and have a social life outside of taking classes. Both Sunjay and ARISE are going to have to think of ways to stay connected to ensure that he is successful.

He will be living in dormitories his freshman year, so he’ll have internet readily available to him. He will need help getting connected to WiFi and to the network, which the University will provide someone to do this. He has utilized the internet for most of his life and this has been a way that he has researched and learned new things. Having a good amount of content for Sunjay to access through ARISE will be vital to help him to learn the English he needs to learn to succeed in his new environment.

Our SEM will focus on utilizing the English he already knows and how he can utilize this knowledge to help him immerse in the culture he is now in. The courses will gradually get more advanced and eventually he will start learning English that will be needed to succeed in a biology degree.


Our SEM is going to have to have content that Sunjay can access 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week so he can learn English on his own time, and hopefully at a rapid pace. Having all this content easy to find online, should help Sunjay succeed. An advantage to having this SEM online is that even though Sunjay is halfway around the world, he can access this information at anytime from anywhere and he can reference this information whenever he needs to. The biggest disadvantage to this is that most of this technology is visual based, which is going to be tough to create a SEM that can help those like Sunjay who is visually impaired. Another resource for Sunjay would be to join an organization such as the Indian Student Association at CU Denver, which would connect him with other students who may be from India or have a family ancestry from India.




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