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Millennials and Digital Learning - Here is what we want!

Posted by Brett Smith on Thu, Oct 27, 2016


The story of stories, as old as humanity - children become adults and all of a sudden (but not entirely surprisingly) a new generation is in charge.

Millennials are the future leaders of the 21st century, and it seems like they are louder and more self-confident than their predecessors.

Silke Simons, Producer and colleague at SwissVBS, already took a closer look at the concept of 'Digital Natives' and questioned how we influence the future of learning and development. Yes, I said "we". By definition I am one of them.

Today I am writing as a Millennial but with the perspective of an Instructional Designer, a curious learner, former university student and previous Compliance training course victim.

As someone who grew up with e-learning, I will try to answer the big questions: What on earth do Digital Natives want? What makes an e-learning course worth our time?

In a survey conducted by Deloitte, the opportunity for career development was the number one priority (after salary) for Millennials across all markets. We are extremely ambitious and career oriented. In addition to our eagerness to move up the ladder, we are voracious learners. And when it comes to digital environments, millennials want high-quality learning options.

Here are 3 things Millenials want when it comes to digital learning: 

Self-explanatory content is priority one. We want to learn anything and everything. We want to increase our knowledge but please do not make it hard on us. The rule of thumb is: work smarter not harder.

Ideally an infographic and three bullet points can convey the essential message. Extensive explanation should be spared.

In any case, it does not always have to be a ”gamification” or a “collaborative learning” approach, as long as the topic's methodology is justified. Much more important is well-balanced content density with a pleasing mix of learning and what I like to call “play time”. 

Minimalism is a universal rule, which applies to content and design simultaneously. Simplicity is loved by Scandinavians and Europeans alike, but is also appealing to young learners. Flat-design, abstract and cubistic characters, colours that pop and different shapes are popular and preferably served with a portion of self-irony.

An intuitive user interface is also a must-have. Digital Natives expect a clear navigation structure within an e-learning solution. This will help to avoid any user experience pitfalls.

Mobility is a blessing and a curse. For us Millennials, definitely a blessing. An e-learning solution doesn’t need to be mobile in its entirety. A mobile solution has impact when aligned with the right learning moment and need.  

Depending on the subject matter, a desktop solution can be a more effective solution. An additional mobile solution used for retention, as a learning tool during a daily commute or used in the moment of need, can be a great companion.  

Mobile can offer great freedom when it comes to gamified elements. Desktop solutions easily run the risk of being too playful. Smart phones, however, already come with gamified DNA. Since they are navigated by tapping and swiping, they are naturally an interactive and playful learning device.

All in all, concerning the design and conception of the e-learning solution, mobile opens up a range of unlimited possibilities, but also gives us the chance to finally overcome the forgetting curve.

In summary, we millenials are not overly demanding concerning our  needs and wants...but what we do want should definitely consider the points above in order to best gain our buy-in and ownership.

Have a team of ambitious Millennials? SwissVBS can support you with any questions regarding an e-learning experience tailored to a new generation of learners.


Topics: Millennials, Mobile Learning

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