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Do Millennials really learn differently?

Millennials have now surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. As this generation continues to advance their career paths and take on greater roles within their organizations, Baby Boomers increasingly have an eye to retirement. As Millennials increasingly take on more responsibility, it is a great time to consider their learning needs. With all of the talk that Millennials are special among their peers, is it really true that this generation learns in a different way? Yes… and no.

Millennials have grown up in an age where technology was completely integrated into their lives. e-learning has always been a part of their experience, and they are always eager to adopt new technologies. Many of them never learned to use a typewriter. Most are unfamiliar with card catalogs. Ask them to research a topic, and they’ll turn to the Internet, more often than not, by using their smartphone. This is a generation of social collaborators, a generation that craves information, and actively seeks it out. In fact, a new shift in learning trends shows that Millennials are more likely than their peers of older generations to actively search out the best training and development opportunities on their own.

Because Millennials have such experience, they have come to expect high-quality, creative instruction delivered with convenience. You’ll find this is a group that will quickly embrace learning opportunities built on performance-based learning theory, scenarios, gamification, and mobile-learning platforms.

But, that’s not to say that Millennials truly learn differently. Everyone, from every generation, benefits from well-designed e-learning. While Millennials may be a more likely group to champion these approaches, they can truly be rolled out to a broad audience with success across the board.

Since Millennials have developed and been exposed to entirely different ways of communicating, accessing information, and learning than previous generations, how do we leverage their experience into our learning opportunities? Ask them to be part of the design strategy. Who else is a better judge of what training elements the millennial audience might find exciting and effective, than a millennial? Just as they can learn from Baby Boomers experience, Millennials enthusiasm for quality e-learning benefits organizations from the top down.

Let us know if you agree. Connect with us on Twitter: @oe_learning.

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