Not too long ago, Millennials were the generation to plan for, the group of professionals who would someday be starting their careers and joining associations. Things have changed, however, as Millennials now make up a significant—and growing—portion of the workforce. As this generation looks to advance their careers, associations that offer continuing education opportunities tailored to meet their needs will be the resources that Millennials turn to.
It’s not enough to simply welcome this new generation into your existing courses. Technology has helped Millennials develop a different learning style than previous generations, and as a result, they expect your continuing education courses to meet these unique needs. Courses that blend traditional resources like workbooks and study guides with flipped classrooms, bite-sized learning and social media will be more likely to appeal to Millennials.
In the traditional classroom setting, an instructor introduces a concept during an in-person lecture. Students are then expected to complete assignments on their own to further their learning.
A flipped classroom reverses this approach. Students use study materials such as textbooks or online course content to learn new concepts ahead of time. Classroom time can then be used to discuss the material and allow students to participate in activities that reinforce those concepts. This method allows for more collaboration between students, and more individualized instruction for students who have questions about the material.
Online training materials—particularly those accessible via a mobile device—offer students the convenience and flexibility to access materials any time they please. But this does not mean they are interested in forgoing printed materials completely. Instead, digital materials can be an effective supplement to traditional training materials.
As our Millennials and Training report shows, 59% of Millennials prefer printed materials when learning new concepts. Offering training materials in both print and online formats is the best way to accommodate Millennials’ diverse learning styles, and is key to helping them succeed in your courses.
Millennials want access to content when and where they prefer, and this applies to your educational content, as well. Structuring lessons into bite-sized or micro-learning segments can appeal to their shorter attention spans and make it easier to fit learning into their busy schedules.
Utilize short videos, small chapter sections and other more succinct lessons. Resource libraries are also good ways to allow learners to return to the material whenever they need to. The goal is to provide material in a convenient format that offers the flexibility of on-the-go access.
Social sharing and engagement should play a role in your continuing education courses, in-person and online. This generation thrives on networking and collaboration, so encouraging your learners to interact with their peers is an effective way for them to deepen their understanding of a topic.
Online collaborative learning may also be an option for your training courses. This allows learners to work together even when they may be geographically dispersed, creating an interactive online learning community.
Millennials often rely on the recommendations of their peers to help them make decisions. Not only do they consume these testimonials, but they also like to share their opinions with others. This phenomenon of peer recommendations is called social proof.
Offer Millennial learners the option to help spread the word about your training courses online through guest blogs, Facebook events and online reviews. They’ll appreciate the ability to share their opinion, and you may see an increase in enrollment as a result.
Incorporating game-like features into your learning materials, both inside the classroom and out, can increase learners’ engagement. Consider adding incentives, rewards or leaderboards to online training materials and try to incorporate competitive aspects to in-class scenarios and challenges to “gamify” their education.
If your course provides learners with a certificate or something similar to recognize course completion, consider utilizing technology to better apply this to your digital natives. Provide Millennials with a digital credential, or online badge, they can display on social media sites like LinkedIn.
Millennials will be able to show off their industry-specific skill set and accomplishments while your organization benefits from word-of-mouth advertising within their networks.
Fine-Tune a Training Program for Your New Generation’s Learning Style
It’s important to recognize how Millennials’ unique learning style differs from those of previous generations. Associations that are able to structure their training courses to include blended learning, bite-sized materials and offer engaging, collaborative approaches will become the resources Millennials turn to as their careers’ progress.