7 Tips To Keep Learner Focus In The Modern Learners’ World
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How To Keep Learner Focus In A Modern World Full Of Distractions

As eLearning becomes more prevalent in the work place, and mobile learning on smartphones is a common strategy, training activity comes up against the reality of the modern learner; it’s hard to keep learner focus.

The modern learners’ world is fast moving, highly connected, mobile, and full of distractions. According to Bersin research, in a typical work week employees only have 1% of their time for training. In “Meet the Modern Learner” Bersin presents us with more shocking facts:

  • The majority of modern learners won’t watch a video lasting more than 4 minutes.
  • Today’s learners go away from their task to the internet an average of 27 times a day (compared to 5 times 15 years ago).
  • Modern learners will click away in between 5 and 10 seconds if your page does not hold their attention.
  • People unlock their smartphones up to 9 times an hour.
  • Modern workers are interrupted every 5 minutes, on average, often by work applications and collaborative tools.

Also, according to the Towards Maturity survey, 2/3 of organizations expect their employees to interact with online learning resources on a daily/weekly basis.

Modern Learners Don’t Function Well In Classrooms 

Digital distraction is on the rise in classrooms, which is another reason to move your learning over  to the modern mobile learning model for modern learners. If you can’t beat them, join them!

Acceptance of digital devices in the classroom (schools, universities, adult education, and training) has grown at the cost of student distraction. In a January 2016, the Journal of Media Education study published a US survey of 675 students in 26 states. They found that students check their phones and other digital devices in class more than 11 times a day on average.

The UNL study conducted in 2015, asked students what they were doing with their mobile devices during class time:

On a typical student day, how often do you use a digital device during class for non-classroom related activities such as texting, talking on a smartphone, emailing, surfing the web, tweeting or other social networking?

  • More than 10 times: 34%.
  • 1-10 times: 63%.
  • Never: 3%.

If you use a digital device during class for non-class purposes, please describe all those purposes:

  • Texting: 87%.
  • Checking the time: 75%.
  • Email: 76%.
  • Social networking: 70%.
  • Web surfing: 42%.
  • Games: 10%.

This data underlines 2 factors that Learning and Development professionals must address:

  1. Modern Learners prefer to learn on mobile device.
  2. Modern learners have a very short attention span.

Tips To Keep Learner Focus For Learning And Development Specialists

1. Use Microlearning.

Break eLearning courses up into small chunks that require only 4 or 5 minutes learner time.

2. Create A Quiet Learning Space In The Employees Workplace.

This is crucial for minimizing interruptions and distractions for learners, and allow them to maximize retention.

3. Remember Employees Do Really Want To Learn And Stay Up To Date.

Timetable learning slots into the employees week, so that it’s more than 1% of their time.

4. Make It Mobile.

Smartphones have overtaken PCs. Modern learners expect to find answers to problems on their phone. 30% of the workforce now does most of their work away from the office, and another 20% are subcontractors, freelancers, and temps.

5. Make It Engaging.

Make sure that the learning package frequently requires learner interaction (every 5 seconds ideally) – such as practice and tests.

6. Make It Relevant.

Curate your content, keep it up to date, and get rid of irrelevant out of date content. Stick to the essentials of your learners needs.

7. Make Sure Your Learning Management System Is Fit For Purpose.

It needs to deliver high-impact microlearning at the point of need. (According to D2L Corporation 2015 report, 64% of learners find that accessing learning on their mobile device is essential/very useful.)

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