Ten trends in workplace learning that play to millennials’ strengths

By John Helmer July 27, 2015

Millennial woman using laptop in open air Learning is undoubtedly changing in organisations, and in ways that ought to be advantageous for learners under thirty, given the characteristics and preferences we have identified in our upcoming report on leadership learning and millennials.

Broadly speaking, the use of technology for workplace learning is moving past an era of ‘course replacement’, in which technology was used to mimic traditional training forms – i.e. classroom courses replaced with online courses – and into an era where digital technology is given more free reign to use its particular strengths to make learning activities more efficient and more closely integrated into workflow.

This movement ‘beyond the course’ has been talked about in the learning technologies industries for some time, mostly by vendors – but it is only now that we are seeing practitioners taking the lead on transforming their learning practices with the aid of technology – and in the process, threatening to leave their vendors behind.

I talked to Carole Bower, Head of Learning at Lumesse, who identified ten key trends she is seeing in her work with clients.

  1. Demand for more shorter/bite-sized content now – particularly explainers (90 second video/animations)
  2. If a social forum/discussion is created as part of a programme (e.g. Management Development) it rarely gets used. Best use of social learning is informal/non-directed.
  3. Finding content is key, and we have seen an increase in the number of portals focused around particular subject areas such as leadership, with a good search facility to drive discovery and enquiry
  4. Gradual introduction of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) practices, accompanied by more learning done in the employee’s own time (something that Towards Maturity’s research suggests Millennials are more willing to do) and a recognition that home computing power is often better and less restrictive than what is available at work
  5. More appetite for accreditation. As an example, one of Lumesse’s major clients now focused on CPD points as a way of recognising professional development
  6. More comms requested from us in order to drive adoption of learning, and the use of techniques more usually seen in consumer-focused marketing. This goes with a move towards less ‘push’ and more ‘pull’ from the training department
  7. Aligned with the point directly above, content ratings are more often used, as seen on consumer sites such as Trip Advisor). We have seen a move from one client (a millennial himself) to retire any course that has a star rating below 4.
  8. Blend is back (multi-mix of learning delivery options)
  9. Mobile learning is more often requested, although usually as part of particular strategy – e.g. a programme aimed at remote workforces.
  10. More focus on performance support – i.e. so-called ‘just-in-time’ learning, as opposed to proactively developing skills for future

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