6 Characteristics of Modern Learning
GUEST EDITOR – Andy E. Holder
It is not only the millennial generation that is seeking new ways of learning.
People are living and working longer, and most companies’ teams now consist of five generations — everything from the traditionalists (those born before 1946) through generation Z (those born after 1995).
Generation Y, the millennial generation (those born between 1977 and 1995), is often discussed in terms of its impact on how they communicate in the workplace. It’s predicted that, by 2025, 75 percent of employees worldwide will be millennials.
Research shows that the generation gap is not so wide after all. Millennials change jobs for the same reasons as other generations. They seek versatility and flexibility. They strive for a strong work-life balance and have similar career aspirations valuing financial security and a diverse workplace as much as their older colleagues.
Learning teams globally have been led to believe that millennials prefer videos for learning. But research shows that multiple generations view digital assets as important learning tools. While a preference for reading is often attributed to older generations, millennials say reading enables them to learn faster, and that they also value print-based job aids, handouts and written materials for reinforcement.
I believe that the availability of technology, the prevalence of social media, the accelerated pace of work and our consumer experiences are driving change, and that these factors are having a profound effect on learners of all generations. It is not only the millennial generation that is seeking new ways of learning. All generations are becoming “modern learners.”
Here are some main characteristics of modern learning:
- Must be learner-centric. The concept of “just-in-time, just-for-me” is the desire of the modern learner. Training must be relevant to gaining new skills or taking on new challenges, and it must be personalized so learners can choose what, how, and when they want to learn.
- Must be micro-sized and modular. Work is fast-paced, and time is at a premium. Learners appreciate short bursts of information that can stand alone or be combined into broader programs.
- Must incorporate varied treatments and formats. Modern workers learn in multiple ways. Different media formats and interactive elements can increase engagement and make learning more effective.
- Must drive retention. Access to information and the need to learn new skills or change behaviors are the keys to modern learning. Continuous application of formal and informal learning through reading, watching, interacting and practice fosters knowledge transfer to the work setting.
- Must be embedded in and connected to learners. Technologies allow for methods to connect learners to “just right”content. Modern learning must leverage data about the learners to push and recommend the right resources at the right time.
- Must be built for mobile access. Modern learners expect anytime and on demand access. Traditional training elements have a place, but videos, ebooks and audio books that can be consumed on the go are compelling options for modern learners.
Andy E. Holder, RNP, MNSC, is senior training manager. global learning and performance, for Amgen. Email Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org.