Learning in the modern world: why millennials matter
The dynamics and demographics of the workplace are rapidly changing. By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce. Having grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media, the millennial generation’s world is digital. It’s not surprising that these individuals who are set to reshape the world of work expect the technologies that empower their personal lives to empower their learning in the workplace. And it’s not just Generation Y that wants to embrace modern L&D approaches, older generations do too.
Meet the modern learner: Overwhelmed, distracted and impatient
Today’s learners are overwhelmed, distracted and impatient. With email, texts, websites, apps and video clips all competing for attention, employees have less time than ever to focus on formal learning and development. Yet the rapid change in business means workers want and need to be constantly learning. Your LMS needs to support personal development and pro-active learning and not just essential training in order to keep up the pace of modern learners and to reflect you as a modern business.
Flexibility in where and how people learn has become increasingly important particularly with employees more mobile than ever and many working from several locations. The modern learner is thirsty to collaborate and learn from his or her peers and managers as much as from experts. Millennials, in particular, expect the information they need to be able to do their jobs to be instantly available at their fingertips.
More than anything, the modern learner doesn’t want to be restrained by ‘how things used to be done’. L&D professionals are under intense pressure to embrace these challenges and evolve their approach to learning to meet the demands of today’s modern learner.
Online, designers now have between 5 and 10 seconds to grab the attention of the millennial learner before they click away (Meet the Modern Learner: Bersin by Deloitte, 2016)
How does learning need to change?
Given that today’s self-directed learners are looking for their own opportunities to learn, organisational learning success depends more than ever on L&D’s ability to empower and engage learners. Modern learning is essentially about making it really easy for learners to access high-impact, bite-sized learning at the point of need. Here are four important tactics that will help you to modernise your learning:
1. Enable on-demand learning
Thanks to brands like Uber, people are getting used to having everything on demand via mobile apps. From taxis to food, there are thousands of apps available to get what we want when we need it. So why should learning be any different? The concept of learning on-demand is nothing new but the technologies and tools are now available to truly support it. Learners are taking control of their learning and are deciding where and when it’s best for them to learn. Convenience has made the mobile device the go-to channel for information in our daily lives and a flexible way to enable training on demand.
2. Make it micro
Microlearning - the use of micro-sized chunks of learning that can be easily processed and accommodated into busy work schedules - is going to continue to grow in popularity due to the proliferation of smartphones, and the rise of the multi-tasking YouTube generation in the workplace. Creative L&D professionals are exploring the power of short bursts of video which look set to become the primary microlearning format in 2017, particularly given that four minutes is the maximum time a millennial learner will spend watching a video. But don’t forget – if your LMS does not support the promotion and notification of these short bursts of microlearning you will not see the engagement levels that are expected from microlearning.
3. Make it personal
Learning needs to be personalised and microlearning has a role to play here. If you can break learning down into smaller self-contained chunks and organise it well, you’ll make it easier for employees to create their own personalised learning pathway. Remember, self-activated learners expect an inspiring made-to-measure rather than one-size fits all learning experience. Learners want content that matches their personal needs, learning speed, preferred learning style and, most importantly, their learning pathway. Make sure you look for features such as dynamic wishlists and amazon style recommendations to ensure that the learner gets the level of personalisation they now expect in everyday life.
4. Embrace social and collaborative learning
Learners are keener than ever to share what they know and to learn from others. With more people working remotely and younger generations having grown up using social media, social learning has become more attractive than ever as a means to exchange ideas and information and get questions answered by experts.
61% of learners are motivated to learn online by using technologies that enable them to network and work with others. One in two learners rank collaboration in their top three factors contributing to a smooth and successful online learning experience (Towards Maturity Benchmark, 2016).
Ignore the modern learner at your peril!
A modern approach to learning can boost engagement, improve performance and drive business success. The L&D function has a key role to play in enabling change including embracing new ways of learning for themselves. A failure to support the new order of learning that is on-demand, collaborative and empowered will inevitably result in more and more workers looking for their own learning outside of the organisation which could sound the death-knell for in-house L&D teams.
Next week we’ll look specifically at how to engage learners to learn.
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