Meeting The Needs of Modern Learners
co-authored by Heide Abelli
There has been an undeniable evolution in how learners retain, process and apply information. Gone are the days where employees were required to attend day-long, instructor-led compliance training sessions or forced to click through outdated, lengthy, unengaging PowerPoint presentations. If organizations want to ensure that compliance training and the important messages within it truly “stick,” the methods of delivering the training must also evolve and transform to meet the needs of today’s digitally-savvy, modern learners. But first, companies must understand how the modern learner actually processes and retains information.
Delivering Content that Resonates
A key challenge for learning and development (L&D) professionals is helping employees truly understand and retain critical content. Even with interpolative testing and other forms of assessment, it is hard to measure whether or not information garnered will actually be applied in the workplace. However, when learners find a video interesting, they are more likely to take that information and apply it to their job. For this reason, L&D professionals must understand precisely what makes instructional content interesting to engage a learner and ultimately improve workforce performance. This level of understanding is of particular importance when it comes to compliance training, as the information that is shared sets a foundation for employee behavior, company culture, and often, workplace safety.
To better understand why (and how) the brain processes and retains information, Skillsoft is conducting an extensive research initiative to explore the science of adult learning and to precisely identify what factors stimulate learner engagement and interest. The study is examining where in the brain cognitive processes take place when a learner consumes a video-based training course, what aspects of a learning experience and instructional design contribute most to recall of the course content and whether or not intrinsic interest influences learning outcomes, just to name a few.
Topline findings of the brain science research so far have found that today’s learners need three things for an optimal learning experience – relevance, meaning and emotion.
With these three factors in mind, the design of new content should include memory hooks for learners by fostering a linkage between cognition and emotion to engage both sides of the brain. Memories are much more likely to stick if they combine information and emotion. One way to achieve this is through circumstantial learning that involves role-playing and scenario-based training, as opposed to traditional instructor-led training. Authentic scenarios that closely mirror real issues in the workplace capture the human interaction component and ensure a level of relevance that helps learners internalize desired behaviors. Information is more likely to make the transition from working to long-term memory if a learner pays particular attention to it or associates it with strong emotions. Content that is grounded in scenarios and stories enables an effective transition to long-term memory.
Enabling Accessibility and Diversity
The next phase of the re-imagined learning formula is enabling relevant content to be accessible to modern learners through a variety of modalities. Fueled by time pressures, work habits and pervasive technology, it’s no surprise that modern learners prefer anywhere-anytime access to digital learning over more formal or traditional compliance training experiences. Mobile learning supports a seamless experience as learners bounce from device to device and can choose from a variety of content modalities, like ebooks, audiobooks, tests, assessments, video and courses, through which training and content can be delivered – and optimally consumed.
Today L&D professionals must cater to a diverse set of employees across five generations, and take into account their preferences for devices and content consumption. Accessibility isn’t just about easy access to training; it is also about how content is consumed and offering different channels or mediums to best suit idiosyncratic employee needs. The right accessibility for individual needs helps to enhance content relevance further and engage learners, thereby setting the stage for better communication and understanding of the information.
The goal of compliance training is to educate employees on the laws, expectations and behaviors that ultimately set the foundation of a company’s culture. Given that lofty goal, it’s imperative to make it as effective as possible.
To achieve optimal success, it is critical for L&D teams to continue to understand the changing needs of the modern learner and to embrace new content, technologies and experiences as part of their organizations’ internal evolution. Thoughtfully curated content that incorporates relevance, meaning and emotion and is available through a variety of learning modules is the foundation of these modern learning experiences. Is your compliance training program ready for a new look in the New Year?