Training The Modern Learner: Delivery Strategies And Content Formats That Work

How Do Modern-Day Learners Like To Learn?
Summary: Using “yesterday’s” methods to train modern learners in the era of fast-paced learning doesn’t work anymore. A paradigm shift in approach is required. In this article, I outline newer content formats and training delivery strategies that really work.

How Do Modern-Day Learners Like To Learn?

From soft skills and technical training to on-the-job learning and compliance training, modern learners have drastically changed how they learn. Compared to yesteryears, today’s learning is more fast-paced, self-paced, more frequent, and more adaptive.

  • Adult learners today use a comparatively richer variety of media to learn—videos, podcasts, games, social platforms, and web forums.
  • They also use a variety of devices to learn—PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Learners today learn on the go, and they consume learning content as and when they have the time and opportunity.
  • Furthermore, they prefer to learn in installments and at the point of need, making microlearning and Just-In-Time learning more pervasive than it was in the previous years.

Why Is It Critical To Adapt Your Training Delivery Strategy To Match The Needs Of The Modern Learner?

Remote learning, changing social norms, and evolving workforce dynamics have meant a change in workplace realities. Employees are more mobile than ever before and have less loyalty to their employers than to self and family. If they feel unfulfilled by their work, they’re more likely to move; and a key criterion of job fulfillment is training and the training content they have access to. A satisfied employee is also a more productive member of your team.

The modern learner values the importance of professional training as a means to achieving success in the workplace.

  • Research by IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) shows that companies that do provide employees the training they need are able to retain 62% [1]of the workforce.
  • Adapting your training content and its delivery to match the needs of the modern learner also delivers exceptional financial rewards. Research shows that the total cost to replace exiting employees could surpass 200% [2] of their annual salary.

With so much at stake, it makes sense to adapt your corporate training delivery strategy to suit the needs of your workforce.

Engage The Modern Learners Where They Hang Out The Most—On Their Mobile Devices

The pervasiveness of smartphones and other mobile computing devices makes these devices an ideal learning tool for L&D teams to exploit. The modern learner is more social than their predecessors, choosing to “hang out” with peers and colleagues using their mobile devices. Here lies a training opportunity to better serve the modern learner: using appropriately designed training content to support mobile learning (or mLearning).

So, why is mLearning a must-use strategy with today’s learners?

  • Today’s learners prefer to “pull” their learning rather than have it “pushed” to them.
  • They typically expect corporate training delivery to sync with their busy lifestyles, rather than syncing their lifestyles around the training. They’ll learn when texting their co-workers and friends, video-calling teammates, after-hours in discussion forums, or when chatting and socializing online.
  • Today’s learner likes to exert control over what, when, and how long they spend on learning.
  • Instant training gratification is a hallmark of the modern learner—learners want to learn on demand.
  • They want to learn whenever and wherever there’s a need—at their desks, when trying to solve a problem or at home, when working remotely on a project.

Therefore, a well-thought-out mLearning strategy that leverages these nuances of the modern learner by employing training content and delivery approaches that are personalized to each mobile learner’s needs is vital.

But, what does the enterprise get from embracing mLearning? An exceptional ROI on training investment. In return for offering modern workplace learners what they want through mLearning, organizations benefit from higher training completion, better knowledge transfer, increased workplace efficiency and productivity, and longer-term employee retention.

What Training Delivery Strategies And Content Formats Should You Invest In?

If you plan on investing heavily to enhance and upgrade your corporate training programs in the near future, here are some training strategies and content formats worth investing in:

Learning In The Flow Of Work

  • Microlearning: by offering the modern learner small-footprint, bite-sized learning [3] for easy consumption on mobile devices and additional content to supplement formal training
  • Apps for learning: that offer flexible anytime, anywhere learning and that may serve as on-demand job aids at the point of need
  • Personalized learning: that leverages learner preferences to deliver uniquely tailored learning content
  • Just-in-time learning: to deliver learning on demand and to support employees with job aids and performance support tools

Creating Immersive Learning Experiences

  • Gamification: that uses “fun and play” training delivery approaches to teach collaborative skills, breed competitiveness, and allow experimentation
  • Interactive videos: including “How To’s” and “Try This…” video content that promotes greater learner engagement
  • Scenario-based learning: which allows learners to explore multiple learning paths in a safe environment
  • NextGen strategies: such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Collaborative Learning

  • Social learning: via group projects and collaboration forms
  • Discussion forums: through chat groups and text messaging platforms
  • Content curation: by making available curated libraries of training content that learners can explore, including learner-driven Wikis

The New Workplace Learning Reality

Today’s adult learners have starkly different learning profiles than their predecessors from half a decade ago. Employees feel empowered as a result of training content that they consume on their own terms. These shifting trends have also forced employers to view training in a whole new light.

The intersection of workforce mobility and continuous learning culture has produced new learning paradigms supported by evolving training delivery strategies and new content formats. I hope my article provides the required cues to embrace these new training delivery strategies and formats that will pay huge dividends to both employees and employers alike. Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.


[1] The Value of Training

[2] Cost of employee turnover

[3] 3 Microlearning Strategies to Promote Learning in the Flow of Work

Read More:

eBook Release: EI
EI is an emotionally intelligent learning experience design company that partners with customers in their Digital Transformation journey.