By Jen Sweeney
Technology advances and a new Millennial majority have made corporate learning and development one of the top issues for business leaders today. In addition to ensuring that employees can keep up with rapidly changing technology, organizations now also need to understand and respond to the different working and learning preferences of each generation.
What once was a question of what to teach has become what, how and why.
Organizations are beginning to address the what and how with blended learning models, which include a mix of training delivery methods—massive open online courses (MOOCs), instructor-led training (ILT), video-based tutorials, microlearning, webinars and more. Providing a mix of methods ensures flexibility, scalability, customization and maximum reach, regardless of subject matter and employee age.
One of these methods, microlearning, has been gaining attention as an essential part of larger, blended approaches. It delivers short, condensed training sessions that are easy to digest and provide learners with usable value, such as the ability to complete a specific task. Employees can view and review microlessons anywhere, anytime via a mobile device or a computer.
A few veterans in the microlearning space include the Khan Academy, Ted X and YouTube. Other microlearning tools and platforms include Coursmos, Twitter, Grovo and Yammer.
The compact, task-specific format and anywhere-anytime availability appeal to Millennials, who are digital natives and experienced multitaskers. But microlearning suits workers of any age who have too much to do, too little time and too many distractions. It also enables organizations to update content quickly and often to keep pace with technology changes.
The “why” is now a mix of engagement strategy, talent retention and pure necessity.
As for the question of why, the answer has changed, but only a little. The aim of corporate learning and development has always been to enable employees to work more efficiently with the tools they rely on. But for earlier generations, technology changes weren’t nearly as frequent, nor were distractions. Training in the pre-digital age was also aimed at preparing employees for the next step in a long career within a company.
In today’s organization, workers don’t stay with one company for more than a few years. The why is now a mix of engagement strategy, talent retention and pure necessity. Millennials value training and development above all company benefits, according to Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends report. In order to keep them, and to keep them engaged, companies must provide a mix of training that satisfies their anywhere, anytime desire for knowledge and the organization’s need to meet business goals.