As a learning and development professional, how sensitive are you to the needs and preferences or different age groups when it comes to learning? Can you guess the age group of these learners, for instance:
- They prefer writing with pen and paper to typing, and find they learn better this way
- They don’t use search engines or websites where content is unmoderated, they use apps where they trust the content and the authors
- They never learn on a smartphone because it is too distracting. They use tablets and “if I want to learn something I don’t just turn my phone off, I put it in a different part of the building”
- The biggest factors in online engagement are aesthetics and usability
- The biggest causes of disengagement are instructions and too much text
Generations X and Y, Millennials, Silver Surfers … generalisations and neat labels are regularly used to segment and define audiences. Though there is often conflicting messaging about who qualifies for each group, this nonetheless has its place as a useful classification, and taken as a rule of thumb can simplify complex needs down to manageable levels – but how many of the commonly held assumptions that are made about each group actually hold true?
We decided to hold a workshop to find out more about how one group in particular like to learn. We asked them questions, they told us about their experiences of learning, and then they reviewed some of our work and gave us feedback.
The insights surprised us and judging from the reaction we’ve had when telling people some of the headlines we are not alone in this.
This is what we found – can you guess the group?
How millennial learners prefer to learn (it’s not how you thought)
The group we chose to research were millennials – perhaps not the group you’d most expect to think this way! This is the wired generation, and our sample for this workshop attended a school where every pupil, without exception, had a tablet. And yet they still prefer pen and paper for some learning tasks, and view the web as the wildcard option for learning anything they might need to depend upon.
We got much more than this too: valuable insights into how these learners like working with a blend, how and why they create self-learning packages to enhance understanding, the first impression they would get from some company inductions and what they would expect and find useful (some of which might make difficult reading!).
We’re excited to start sharing our insights as we develop this research work further, increase our sample size and work with other groups over the coming months.
Watch this space for news of webinars, white papers, etc. on the subject – and if you’d like to get involved, let us know by using this contact form, quoting the words ‘Millennials Research’.