By 2025, millennials will make 75% of the global workforce and this will have a great impact on how training is delivered within organizations. Millennials are the first generation of “digital natives” and they’re experiencing more of their lives online than any generation prior to them, particularly through social media tools.
As millennials have a lifelong relationship with technology, their learning styles and preferences also change drastically. Learning the millennials’ learning language will help you design your training better. For generations before millennials, TGIF meant “Thank God It’s Friday,” but for millennials, it means “Twitter, Google, Instagram, Facebook.”
Taking a closer look at these social media tools millennials frequently use reveals a few key insights about how they want to learn. Let us look at each one of them.
Twitter is a microblogging site and 80% of Twitter’s active users are millennials. In Twitter, whatever is said should be said within 280 words and that’s something that woos millennials. Millennials constantly turn to a smartphone for moments of “micro-leisure.” With a very short attention span, microlearning and millennials seem to be match-made in heaven. Microlearning requires a shorter attention span and, hence, there is a lesser cognitive load on the learners and the information is easier to absorb, retain, and recall. Microlearning matches the human brain’s processing capabilities, especially for millennials, which makes it a fit for today’s fast-paced and hyper-connected workplace. 2 to 3-minute chunks of information at a time tend to be the most successful when it comes to millennials. In between meetings and on the way to work or while having lunch, wherever they are, they prefer info they can take in quickly.
Traditionally, learning has been pushed to the learner. But now, with millennials, we need to create learning interventions using the pull method. Millennials often go to Google to pull the information they need. Millennials are aces at “googling” and discovering information. “Just-Google-it” is their mantra! Just-in-time learning interventions provide relevant on-the-job performance support when they need it. The pull method puts the learners in the driver’s seat and this learner autonomy is the key factor for millennials. According to the famous 70:20:10 model, 70% of learning happens on the job. Using the pull method and creating just-in-time learning objects perfectly aligns with the millennials’ learning preference.
72% of all millennials use Instagram daily. Instagram is a highly visual space. With more than 30 billion pictures shared, Instagram is the place for visual storytelling. Images, videos, and stories, that’s what captures millennials. Visuals reduce cognitive load. For example, if you want to explain a tree to a millennial, show a tree instead of explaining with words when you present it to the millennials. Weaving visuals and stories together in our learning interventions can not only gain millennials’ attention but also retain it throughout the course.
77% of millennials use Facebook on a daily basis. On Facebook, people learn from each other by “sharing their story” and “what’s on their mind.” Millennials connect, share, and develop relationships with each other and, thus, experience the joy of learning and joy of sharing. In social learning, the learning is multi-directional, as a group of learners comes together to share their bit and learn. They teach us that effective learning does not happen in isolation. Using social platforms to learn is something that can reap huge benefits among millennial learners. Creating a safe space to discuss and receive/give feedback from peers empowers millennials in their learning journey.
Millennials are familiar with forums, chats, and comments and as learning designers, we need to find a way to create virtual communities by mirroring these ways into the learning environment also.
Taking cues from “TGIF: Twitter, Google, Instagram, and Facebook” let us cater to the millennial workforce in their own language, which is “TGIF.” Microlearning, just-in-time learning or instant learning, visual storytelling, and social learning are our way forward. Instead of asking our millennials to pursue our learning interventions, let us learn their language and play in their playground and by their rules when it comes to learning. Let’s allow millennials to shape our learning strategies as we try to shape their learning ecosystem.
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