The Modern Learner: Are You Meeting Their Needs?

January 30, 2018 18:10 by Dana Peters
Thanks to several factors, five generations make up today’s workforce; each with their own unique aspirations, motivations, and life experiences. It’s quite possible today’s workforce is the most diverse any business leader has experienced. From a training standpoint, the changing workforce and the emergence of new technology has changed the definition of what today’s learner looks like regardless of generation. The modern learner knows no age. It’s imperative that companies and learning development professionals continually grow and adapt their learning culture to meet the expectations of today’s learner. Reaching today’s learner begins with understanding who they are and what they want.   We’ve developed a short list to define today’s modern learner. Knowing and understanding who today’s modern learner is, can help you decide if your company is doing everything it can to reach them effectively.    Today’s modern learner is…   Requires Convenience   Today’s learner is on the go. They want to be able to ‘learn’ everywhere they are. This can mean accessing learning opportunities from their desk computer and phone, but it can also mean accessing it from home, accessing it from a tablet, or from their mobile device, whenever and wherever they want to.   Seeks Instant Gratification Time is valuable for today’s learner. They are often overwhelmed and overworked and almost always distracted by some internal or external force. Statistic Brain Research Institute reports that the average attention span of today’s adult is just 8 seconds. That means in 8 seconds or less, your learner will decide if your session is worth his or her time. Clearly stating the objectives up front, the course agenda, and intended benefits of the session will hold the learners attention for the duration of the session. Mixed media including video, activities, and small group work will also help retain learners’ attention. In addition, today’s learner wants answers now. On demand learning is crucial for today’s learner. That’s why technology like Google, Alexa, and Suri are so popular. It’s important to make sure your company can provide opportunities and resources for in the moment and on demand learning.    Demands Value & Relevance   This too plays into gratification. Today’s modern learner wants it all. Not only do they demand instant gratification and convenience. They want big returns on their investment of time and energy. Time is valuable and today’s learner does not want to spend time away from day-to-day work for something that has little or no relevance to their current responsibilities or doesn’t enhance their potential for that next promotion or career move.   In Control   The modern learner wants to be in control of his or her learning and development. They want options and choices and they want to be in control of their career and development path. Learning choices should vary in content, in length, in availability, and in medium. The modern learner does not need mandatory learning and development requirements to learn. They choose learning, but it must be flexible, convenient, and on their own terms.   Collaborative   Social elements drive today’s society, both on the personal and professional front. Today’s learners rely on Google for answers and they look to peers and colleagues to provide them with the ability to support their learning on the job. In fact, Bersin reports that nearly 80 percent of workforce learning happens via on the job interactions with peers, teammates, and managers. As stated above, the modern learner wants to learn. They want to grow and adapt to be more successful on their job and they want to share their ideas and collaborate with other like-minded professionals.   I want to be clear, the modern learner can be found in all generations. Too often, these discussions take place with a focus on serving a younger, more technology focused generation.  A Baby Boomer, for example, can appreciate the convenience and technology virtual learning provides just as much (or even more) than a millennial.   Now that you know more about what the modern learner looks like, is your company doing everything it can to reach them?   Let us know in the comments below!  

Learning Trends to Watch in 2018

January 9, 2018 15:25 by Dana Peters
  With the New Year upon us, we look ahead towards the opportunities in our field to meet the needs of our clients. Based on our conversations with our clients, the following are the hot topics on their project radars for 2018.   Mobile Learning Mobile devices are everywhere. This is not a new trend. Learning professionals continue to adapt in order to accommodate learners’ mobile lifestyles. Companies have already started moving their content to mobile platforms and applications. Employees rely on mobile devices to access information and training content while on the job. This trend goes beyond the formal training session to meeting the learners where they are, when they need the information. Mobile learning also supports another trend we see gaining in popularity: Microlearning. Microlearning Time is valuable. So is training. Companies are starting to realize that not every training opportunity needs (or can) be a two day training session. Our clients have started to take advantage of microlearning opportunities, short bursts of learning that employees can consume in a short period of time. The trend suggests that as more people continue to do more with less, microlearning techniques are better received and retained by employees. We expect this trend to continue. Content Curation Part of content curation again speaks to the individuals desire to have knowledge at their finger tips. The increase in accessibility of the internet, particularly on mobile devices, puts answers in front of people almost immediately. In a learning atmosphere, we can use that thirst for knowledge by curating relevant and accurate information in one place for employees. We see this happening with unique internal content such as company manuals, policies, procedures etc., but also by leveraging relevant and useful existing content from external sources. This might be content on federal regulations, from law libraries, or targeted general topics such as proper email etiquette, or health and wellness information. Big Data As today’s business world continues to move in a digital direction, data in the business world becomes easier to collect and use. Industries across the board are realizing the value of collecting that information and the learning industry is no different. Again, not a new trend, but we see our clients continuing to capture analytics on learning tool utilization, content access, and knowledge application on the job.  Using the data helps learning and development professionals quantify activity and show value they can directly link to business results. Distributed Workforce This is also a trend we have continued to see grow over the past several years. As more employees desire flexible work schedules and technology continues to improve working from home, larger groups of employees are able to do their jobs remotely. A remote workforce can present new challenges. Managers leading remote teams need different skills to support their teams successfully. Our clients and other learning professionals continue to enhance learning curriculum in support of the skills necessary for both individual contributors and managers to be successful in a remote work environment. Gamification of Learning This is a trend we will explore in more detail later this year, but we do see this trend continuing to gain traction in 2018. New studies indicate that some forms of game based learning have higher retention rates than more traditional methods. We see some clients exploring gamification methods to take the mundane out of mandatory training requirements and encourage employees to engage in the learning process. Some organizations are exploring new ways to ‘gamify’ their existing learning programs for their in house training, compliance courses, information security, and other procedural trainings. As we kick off 2018, we will be on the lookout for these and other trends in the industry, and will continue to share our resources and experiences. Wishing you great success in the year ahead.

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Learning Trends

Believe…A Stress Free Year End is Possible

November 14, 2017 10:46 by Dana Peters
It’s that time of year again. The holidays are right around the corner, and before we know it the New Year will be upon us. The end of the year always comes with the traditional holiday stressors like family, cooking, shopping, and holiday travel.  But for virtual instructor-led training (vILT) professionals, the end of the year can bring on even more stress if proactive steps aren’t taken throughout the year. We’ve compiled a list of the most common stressors faced by many vILT professionals, and more importantly, how to avoid them. Last Minute RequestHere it is November and the rush of calls, emails, and instant messages from learners declaring their need for more opportunities to take “xyz” course before year end is in full swing. Despite several scheduled courses during the first ten months of the year, this mad dash to meet course completion goals seems to always crop up in the last two months of the year. Avoid this stressor by making sure to effectively communicate your learning opportunities early and often. Think about how an effective marketing campaign works and apply some of those strategies. Regular communication from a variety of channels and encouragement to enroll now in the courses needed will offer some relief to the year-end rush. Scheduling on Short NoticeWith the last minute request volume that seems to come at year-end, the desire to serve learners and accommodate these needs leads to the attempt to schedule a few more sessions before the year is over. Between the holidays, vacation schedules, budget restraints, and other year-end business demands, this can be next to impossible. The key to avoiding this stressor is preparation. Build in a buffer. Schedule extra classes around the end of the year several months in advance as part of the preparation for the onslaught of learners needing classes. Extra classes can be consolidated or cancelled if need be but adding them last minute is very difficult.Low Attendance RatesSchedules at the end of the year are jam packed for everyone, including learners. Despite extra effort to add a few last minute classes to the learning calendar, often the result is low attendance rates and cancellations. Avoid this stressor by communicating year round learner expectations for attendance and participation. For more information, check out this post we previously wrote on setting learner expectations.  Finalizing Next Year’s BudgetThe end of the year often means final budget decisions for the New Year. It’s a stressor every department in every company has to deal with, and one virtual learning professionals have to deal with too. All dollars need to be justified and accounted for. To relieve some of the stress, continuously demonstrate value and contribution to business results throughout the year, not just when it’s time for budget discussions. Plan for the budget meeting by understanding what the goals of the business are in the upcoming year and creating the connection from your learning programs to meeting those goals.  We’ve done a few posts on earning executive buy-in that you might find helpful.Can you relate? What else is stressful for you this time of year? While each of these may resonate with you, survival is possible with proper preparation.