7 Things to Keep in Mind While Designing Digital Learning for Millennials

For eLearning course designers, learners have always been the central focus. In the recent times, it has been felt that the way learners learn and consume eLearning has been changing and one of the primary reasons is the emergence of the millennial learner on the stage.

So, who’s the millennial, and what’s so different about their learning style?

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Millennials are the digital generation of today (mainly, the people born in the 1980s or 1990s) who are married to technology to an extent that it’s almost an extension of their own selves. Research indicates that they:

  • Are global citizens
  • Have an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Come from diverse backgrounds
  • Have a limited attention span

So how do you align your development strategy to meet the specific learning needs of millennials?

  1. Make it platform and device agnostic: Do not bind the learner to a specific device or environment; make the digital learning available anywhere, anytime. Preferably, adopt a ‘mobile first’ approach.
  1. Keep it short: Keep the eLearning bite-sized and make it available in micro-learning formats to suit the diversified visual, auditory, and kinetic learning needs. A rigid framework might put off the learner.
  2. Learning goal should be visible: Make the end goal visible to the learner to tie the learning to their work life. This will bring in their active participation and will also encourage them to use the learning in real-world scenarios. This serves their need to be practical and result-oriented.
  3. Make it challenging and fun: Millennials would prefer to solve challenges, so create scenarios close to their day-to-day work and throw in some gamification elements to make it a challenging and fun experience at the same time.
  4. Enable the learner: Keep the design fluid, and enable them to be in control, to take risks, and to multitask. For example, teach a sales call through a branching scenario where learners select the choices they will make while talking to a prospective customer that could result into a successful closure or lost opportunity.
  5. Make it social: Bring in the social and collaborative learning components such as discussion forums, chats, badges, etc. Millennials prefer collaborative experiences and tend to share anything they like. This allows them to enhance their learning experience and also helps the learner community.
  6. Keep it diverse: Various research studies show that millennials are the most diverse of the lot. They consider themselves global citizens. Aim to capture this element in your design for an enhanced learning experience. This could be achieved by using ethnically diverse photographs, globally applicable examples, and using “youth speak.”

This is definitely not a secret sauce or the only seven things which need to be considered while creating a digital learning experience for millennials; but something basic, yet important.

I would like to hear both from eLearning designers and millennial learners about their experiences and views on this.

7 Ways to Present Learning Objectives Creatively

Every Instructional Designer (ID) understands the importance of specifying clear learning objectives for an eLearning course. One of ID’s jobs is to set the focus of learning and stating the objectives right at the outset of a course helps learners achieve them. Learning objectives define the purpose of learning or in other words, what you want your learners to learn or be able to do. Knowing the objectives is also motivating for learners to know what they would achieve from the course. Course creators and IDs can use the learning objectives as a basis to decide what to include in the course, how to design learning activities and for course evaluation.

Most of the times, the focus is on creating the right learning objectives and the aspect of presenting them effectively may be overlooked. The most common way of presenting learning objectives is in the form of a bulleted list. However, this may not always be effective, and there could be a need to communicate the value of learning objectives in a more meaningful way. Especially, if this is the first screen learners are going to view, and you want to hook them or bring about a change in their thought process.

With this thought, our ID team at Harbinger Interactive Learning brainstormed and collated a variety of innovative ways to present learning objectives, which they have been using to create ‘learner-centric’ trainings. I am sharing a few of them here in the form of an infographic.

An infographic presenting innovative ways to present learning objectives

Creative and/or visual representation of learning objectives makes them more meaningful and interesting for learners. What do you think? Any more ideas on how you present learning objectives? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Why does eLearning fail?

As an eLearning professional for the last 10 years, I have been a part of many successful eLearning courseware development projects. However, there have been many occasions when the eLearning solution does not live up to the expectations.

Undoubtedly, eLearning as a medium is very powerful. Then why do the eLearning initiatives fail? There can be numerous reasons why an eLearning project fails. Here are some reasons I have commonly seen.

 

  1. Ignored end users – When the idea, requirements and approach is driven by only the sponsors and not the end users of eLearning, there is a RED FLAG right at the start. You cannot ignore the end users. Here are some guidelines to refer to understand the end user requirement:
    1. What do the consumers want?
    2. What is their comfort zone?
    3. How do they enjoy learning?
    4. What motivates them?
    5. How can eLearning add value to their learning experience?
  1. When design takes over content – Not every eLearning course needs to be highly interactive or requires a lot of graphics and imagery. Sometimes content effectiveness is lost in the efforts of making the eLearning design heavy and visually attractive. Content is the KING and it should always get the first priority. Content presented in a simple style, properly chunked and with the right design can also make a great impact.
  1. Not creating a marketing buzz – Most of the time focus is on the development of the courseware, which is where it should be; however, similar efforts should go into creating a buzz around the release. It is important to attract the consumers and get them excited about the new courseware. Just putting the course on the LMS doesn’t help. It’s almost like releasing a new motion picture. Just a good story, some gripping acting and scenic locales is not enough. The audience needs to feel compelled to go to cinema halls. The release plan must include:
    1. Plan to create a buzz and attract consumers
    2. Plan to provide technical support during and after the release for a smooth experience
    3. Plan to update the content
    4. Plan to capture consumers’ feedback

There could be many more reasons for eLearning implementation failures like quality of content, technical limitation of the delivery environment, lack of alignment of content with the business goal.

Have you ever experienced such a situation of eLearning failure? How did you resolve it?

Please share your thoughts below.