Understanding the Modern Learner and Their Needs:
Back in the day, there were only a few ways you could learn. You could use text-based information, such as a book or manual. You could learn by watching someone else do something, or you could learn by doing. However, things have changed today, and the needs of modern learners are very different from what they were even a few years ago. For training providers and learning management system developers, understanding these needs and how they’ve changed is imperative.
Less Time, More Stress
The most important thing to realize is that the modern learner only has about 1% of their workweek to focus on training. That’s a minute amount of time in which to cram something so important as ongoing professional training. Academic learners have more time than this, but they’re far more stressed than they once were due to the significantly larger number of subjects they must master.
Shorter Attention Spans Across the Board
Modern learners not only have less time to devote to training and education, but their attention is fragmented, meaning their attention span is shorter. For training providers, this means you need to create bite-sized learning experiences rather than lengthy courses that require a significant time commitment in order to make any progress. Chaining the bite-sized learning moments together will yield the same results as a larger, more in-depth course.
Hit the High Points
In keeping with the less time, more stress and less attention, training developers need to focus on creating less content, not more. The content that is created should be highly condensed and on point, and it should hit the key areas needed with no fluff, filler or wandering. A ton of new content isn’t necessarily a good thing, particularly if your learners have to wade through hours of training just to get to the points that they really need.
Customization and Personalization
The one-size-fits all approach to training and education needs to be thrown out. It doesn’t work in a traditional classroom setting, and it certainly has no place in ongoing professional training or online learning. Training and education needs to be highly personalized, and it needs to be customizable to the student in question. This ensures that each learner can get what he or she needs, but it also motivates them to do more.
Not at a Desk
Traditionally, learners worked at their studies at a central location – a desk or a desktop PC. Today, there’s no guarantee that the learner is even going to be at a business location. They might work remotely, or be on the road. More and more learners are mobile, and that trend is only increasing. It’s vital that training providers take this into account when creating content and course-frameworks. Programs and platforms must be scalable to meet different needs in terms of access location, access device and more. Plan for some learners to use workstations, but others will be using tablets, laptops or even smartphones to complete their studies.
Generic Content Needs to Disappear
Today’s learners, particularly workers going through continuing education, need highly-targeted information that they can put to use immediately. Generic information, or theoretical learning serve little purpose here, and are largely time wasters. Everything must work together so that the learner can take the information presented and apply it immediately to improve performance.
As you can see, the needs of the modern learner, particularly the professional learner engaged in continuing education, are far different from what they once were. Training developers and providers must take note and modify their offerings to account for these changing needs.