Millennials. With many already in the workplace and more yet to come, are you ready for them?
Born between 1980 and 2000, their use of technology and affinity to the digital world sets them apart from previous generations of workers. It is not surprising that they have specific expectations about how technology could and should be used in the workplace.
Does your existing corporate training program cater to this millennial segment of the workforce? Without a change in the way you deliver training in the workplace, you risk disconnecting with this cohort.
The rise of the millennials
By 2020, 50% of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials who have grown up with technology embedded in their lives. In 2012, 65% of all working people listed their mobile phones as their “most critical work device”. That percentage will only continue to grow as the millennials join the workforce and more corporate organisations adopt a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy.
So what is mobile learning?
Mobile learning, or mLearning, is not new to the training industry. It is simply defined as education or training that is delivered or undertaken through a digital mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
Originally considered to be a subset of elearning, mlearning takes the digital delivery a step further by allowing learners to learn virtually anywhere they have access to a mobile network. Learning is not constrained to a physical environment - participation in training can take place while travelling to or from work or even within the workplace, when and where it is wanted.
According to a survey by Mobile Helix, making required training available on mobile devices for employees will lead to a 40% increase in productivity. Mobile learning enables organisations to deliver the right information into the right hands at the right time. With many organisations having a geographically dispersed workforce, learning can be distributed quickly and employees can fit their learning programs into their busy schedule as less time is required participating in instructor-led training or lengthy elearning programs.
Issues around the uptake of mobile learning
In 2015, mobile devices accounted for 90% of device purchases. Advances in technology have changed the primary purpose of mobile devices from making and receiving calls to being able to source the latest information on any subject.
So why is it that we haven’t seen a more significant uptake of mlearning in the corporate training sector so far?
To begin with, there are the technical issues such as connectivity, multiple standards, security, and limited device memory. While one would hope that these will resolve with the advancement of technology, the more pressing issue is content design for mobile.
Mobile content has typically consisted of courses designed for delivery through a learning management system (LMS) — in other words, LMS courses designed for viewing on a PC but accessed on a mobile device. Responsive web design has allowed for better usability and readability on small screens with the adjustment of content layout based on screen size and resolution.
Although the issue of display has been addressed with the development of mobile responsive themes, the real issue of content design remains.
Courses designed for an LMS tend to be lengthy, complicated, heavy in content with one course containing multiple learning objectives. Content is usually linear and it is often not specifically related to the task at hand. Information can be buried deep within a course and difficult to locate at the time of need.
The revolution of micro-learning
In a corporate world where information changes rapidly, time constraint is a constant issue and employees require just-in-time training, micro-learning is the go-to solution.
Micro-learning is a way of delivering content to learners in a radically different way: no overwhelming PowerPoint slides or one hour videos but short, precise bursts of content, usually 3 to 5 minutes in length.
By focussing on just one task or concept at a time, micro-learning allows the employee to quickly get performance support and address any knowledge or skills gaps without sitting through a time-consuming training session. Enabling learning at the moment of need and within the workflow also retains continuity of thought, concentration, and engagement.
With on-demand micro-learning, learning can be completed quickly and knowledge applied straight away. Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, where we forget 80% of what we have learned within 30 days, can be transformed into a retention curve with the use of bite-sized content to create ‘sticky’ learning experiences relevant to the task at hand and with immediate application.
What is required is a transformation of the traditional model and a redesign of existing content into modular components of short videos, animations, texts, quizzes, and other training material. Modular components can be grouped to create new on-demand learning pathways. Employees can self-manage their training by accessing the information as they need it rather than information being delivered as a ‘one-model-fits-all’ approach.
The increased usage of mobile devices within the workplace allows for a mobile training program that promises better accessibility, context of learning and appeal compared to the more traditional training approaches. It also gives the millennials (and of course, all employees) the flexibility they want combined with the technology they can’t live without.