Five Characteristics of Millennial E-Learners

January 24, 2017
Millennials sitting around desk in working space laughing together
Guest blogger, Tony Troussov, CSP™, discusses the five characteristics of millennial e-learners.

By 2025, it’s expected that 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will consist of millennials, according to the Brookings Institution. This shift in employee population requires new approaches and methods not only in hiring and onboarding, but also in training and development.

Corporations and associations are trying to cater to this younger population, who grew up with video games and the internet. Training companies can take advantage of this opportunity by offering eLearning opportunities to millennials. As you create your materials, keep in mind these five characteristics of millennial eLearners so you can develop products that speak to them.

#1 – They are Information-Hungry

Millennials are the most educated generation in the United States. They are on track to have more college and post-graduate degrees than GenX and Boomers, and they value employers who encourage career development and education. Moreover, consider how easy it is to access information via mobile technology. And XanEdu suggests that because of their short attention span (more on that later), “Millennials have always had to dig through cluttered landscapes to find value—they tend to seek information in short bursts and ignore ‘noise.’”

#2 – They are Social Media Savvy

With unlimited access to free information, millennials are often addicted to social media. In fact, most get their news from Facebook and Twitter. When it comes to entertainment and learning, YouTube is many times their primary source.  They are curious by nature, and social media makes it easy to feed their curiosity. On top of that, they are eager to discover what will help them advance to the next level of their “gamified” lives.

Creating a learning platform that utilizes a community-learning atmosphere can reach these social media learners.  Examples include dashboard pages that resemble social media websites. The purpose is to inform learners of their individual progress during their educational journey while providing them the ability to leave comments, rate training, and share feedback with other learners.

#3 – They are Content Seekers

Content is king for all generations, and for millennials in particular, stale content is a turn-off. Younger learners are picky about the information they choose to absorb. The material must be fresh and applicable to their jobs. The learners want to know why they should listen to your material. Help them connect the dots. Provide them with enough information up front to get them invested in learning new skills. They need to understand what they will learn and how it will improve their situation. Additionally, you have to deliver your content in a way that keeps them engaged. For example, millennials love learning through scenarios that pertain to their jobs.

#4 – They Have Short Attention Spans

With all the distractions a learner faces, short “snackable” training modules will help keep their attention and engagement up. The days of 27-minute training videos are over. Some studies say a millennial learner’s attention span is about eight minutes. Others report they are prone to changing tasks up to 27 times per hour (ever played Pokemon Go?).  Good luck trying to keep their attention with a 27-minute e-Learning module with PowerPoint slides! 

Many factors have contributed to this phenomenon.  With five millennials in my household, I think video games and the bombardment of information plays a huge part in it.  To keep learners engaged, focus on short and impactful training modules that are under five minutes in length.  So go ahead and breakdown that 27-minute VHS module into five palatable portions.

#5 – They are Visual Learners

To capture learners’ attention and keep them captivated, make sure you utilize the most current technology.  Use a responsive website for mobile access. Mobile on-demand training is expected from this “selfie” generation. Easy access and ability to play and replay your training modules will go far with millennial learners.  

Some learning management system (LMS) sites can look static, and because they have been around for a while, they can feel very corporate. This new breed of learners wants to be informed, but they also expect online learning to be fun and engaging. They may not expect video games graphics when they are learning, but it is important to utilize a platform that can satisfy their visual senses. It would be a good idea to stay away from PowerPoint slide videos or static texts that seem outdated to most viewers.

The Future is On-Demand Training

In many ways, millennial learners are not much different than older folks. We all expect quality and a return on our investment of time. Nevertheless, remember that new learners are here, and more of them are coming. If you are relying solely on your in-person training, it’s time to rethink that strategy.  

Online training will help you increase your reach, attract new clients, fill in the gaps in between your engagements, and generate additional revenue. But most importantly, it will allow you to provide value to multiple generations of learners. Make sure you provide on-demand skill-based training that will increase learner engagement and contribute to a better culture and results within your client’s business. Finally, to improve the effectiveness of your online training platform, utilize short killer content that is served up on the newest technology available.

About the Author

Tony Troussov, CSP, is an international sales trainer, speaker, and consultant. He has delivered over 500 presentations with 2,000+ hours of platform time.

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