Are you meeting the needs of your lifelong learners?

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Executives at Google have been talking about a new type of employee – the “learning animal”. But what kind of people are they referring to? Jonathan Rosenberg, former Senior VP of Product at Google, highlights one of the company’s core strategies: only hire people who are lifelong learners. To put it another way, they are looking for curiosity, autonomy and discipline in learning. It should come as no surprise that 73% of adults consider themselves to be just that: people who are addicted to learning.

What’s more, according to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay longer with a company if it invested in their learning. So how do you cater to these demands?

The answer: blended learning.

Blended learning brings together high-quality online content with in-person and on-the-job learning. Its goals? To deliver engaging and impactful learning experiences. For this reason, it combines four key components:

  • Modern micro-modular video training
  • Relevant resources (articles, books, case studies)
  • Quizzes, reflection questions and real-life challenges
  • The trainer as the architect of the overall journey

 

So how would a course look like in blended format?

Let’s take the following example. A bakery needed to train new shop managers. To accomplish this, the First Time Manager program was created. It targeted varied skills – from building rapport with your team to managing conflicts effectively. The L&D specialists designed short and attractive learning modules, containing video-lectures, relevant case studies and insightful articles. Managers had three weeks to go through one module, take a quiz and complete a challenge, like setting a SMART objective. Then, they would attend a three-hours workshop designed to put learning into practice and clarify questions.

This approach not only boosted learner engagement and ensured a personalized experience, but was praised by the managers themselves.

 

Can blended learning meet learners’ needs?

The blended approach frames learning as a continuous, lifelong process. Above all, it allows employees to learn in the most efficient way.

  • Blended learning caters to the independent learner by providing the freedom to go at his/her own pace. Namely, (s)he can move on or take more time with a subject, without having to worry about keeping up with others.
  • It caters to the autonomous learner by allowing him/her the flexibility to customize the learning experience. There is no specific time, place or “best way” to go through course materials – it can be done during free time, lunch break or on commute, and in no particular order.
  • It caters to the time-starved learner by using bite-sized nuggets that contain easily digestible and relevant content. For instance, take a conflict management course. Learning the basic techniques only requires a 4-minutes video that can be accessed anytime, on any device.
  • It caters to the applicability-driven learner by providing challenges built around low-stake, real-life situations. For example, a learner working on SMART Objectives will be required to set one such objective. After watching a video that explains what each letter stands for, (s)he is challenged to put this knowledge into practice.
  • It caters to both visual and auditory learner by mixing and matching different materials throughout the journey. For example, a course on First Time Manager can include a variety of resources, in multiple formats (video, audio, text). From videos and TED talks to case studies and quizzes, different formats ensure novelty and secure engagement.
  • It caters to the social learner by creating virtual communities and dashboards. These offer learners the chance to bounce ideas and receive instant feedback. Additionally, instructor-led activities such as role-playing foster collaborative learning. Coaching and mentoring are also effective in making learning stick.

 

Who are your lifelong learners?

Think about your employees for a moment. When it comes to training, who is consistently asking for relevance, speed, autonomy?

That’s right: Millennials. To illustrate, Gallup highlights that “Millennials fundamentally think about jobs as opportunities to learn and grow. Their strong desire for development is, perhaps, the greatest differentiator.” But how does this generation approach learning?

Millennials are passionate about learning on their own. They have little interest in time-consuming, out-of-context training. Most importantly, they are looking for hyper-relevant content, instantly delivered on their devices. Ease of access, ease of use. Anytime, anywhere.

If you take a closer look, you will observe more things about your Millennial learners. They:

  • cherish their autonomy and independence
  • want to find relevant and actionable content quickly
  • prefer connecting learning to real-life situations
  • are very flexible, employing various learning styles
  • have a life long relationship with technology, seeking collaboration and instant feedback
  • feel empowered to curate their own learning experiences

Sounds familiar?

Blended learning manages to integrate online and offline tools to offer a relevant, actionable and personalized experience. For this reason, it succeeds in catering to the particular needs of Millennials. Incidentally, they are the biggest pool of lifelong learners in your organization.

 

Final thoughts

Woman sitting on chair with closed hands

Karen May, Vice President of People Development at Google

The days of effective traditional training are over. Lifelong learners are pushing past old L&D practices. And their demands are crystal clear. You need to keep these in mind to design engaging and effective experiences. And blended learning is your most important ally.

Karen May, VP of People Development at Google, strongly believes in this approach. She encourages you to “Put the support structures in place to make learning happen, and then get out of the way”.

Take the first steps towards developing a blended learning strategy with Moonstar’s user-friendly and interactive Experiential Learning Platform. Turn relevant competencies into new habits and build a community of enthusiastic learners and a continuous learning mindset in your company.

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