‘Too long; didn’t read’ – should L&D delivery be changing with the millennial generation?

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‘TL;DR,’ or ‘Too long; didn’t read’ – whilst not necessarily a fair representation of every worker in the millennial generation, this charming piece of internet slang does provide a fairly accurate, if not somewhat generalist, overview of the changing way in which people consume information. Not only do people expect to be able to get what they want quickly, but they also want to be able to access that information wherever they are, on whatever device they happen to be using at the time. And, with the exponentially growing number of information providers out there, if you can’t provide what your intended recipient wants, at speed and ‘on the move,’ they will simply find someone who can.

Not all skills can be taught online

This evolution has provided plenty of challenges across many industries, and will no doubt continue to do so. When it comes to the delivery of learning and development, however, things are slightly more complicated, not least because L&D does much more than just deliver information. There are certain skills that simply cannot be taught only in ‘bite-sized’ or online formats, for example. The most obvious of which are areas where human interaction is the key, such as assertiveness or negotiation skills. Granted, you could learn the theory without entering a classroom. But without the ability to practice on people in a safe setting, the theory is unlikely to have a significant impact. Similarly, you would struggle to build your confidence in something like presentation skills without practicing in front of a group.

Utilise new technology when required

But that doesn’t mean L&D providers should be complacent and assume that changes in technology won’t affect them. Whilst it may not be necessary, or even possible, to build all L&D solutions around a mobile/digital format, and whilst there are certain skills and traits that will always require face-to-face contact in order to be effectively developed, L&D providers should at least have the capability to utilise new technology when required, or as part of a blended programme (an app through which they can access pre-course material, for example).

Build the learning around the needs

When you strip it all back, effective learning has to be built around the specific needs of the business in question – i.e. the preferences of the individual learners and their learning styles, the culture of the organisation and the specific outcomes the learning is aiming to achieve. If new technology can support that ideology, then it is worth embracing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be forced upon learners for the sake of it. That said, the more tools an L&D provider has access to, the more flexible they can be in providing bespoke solutions that genuinely fit customers’ needs, and the end result of that is a bigger impact for the learner.

Technology and the 70:20:10 model

As we continue to move towards wider implementation of the 70:20:10 learning model – 70% experience, 20% through people and 10% in the classroom – clearly the importance of experiential interventions, ones that can be applied to real-world roles, will continue to rise. Perhaps, then, the focus for new technology in L&D should be on that 10%.

What do you think? How will the delivery of L&D change over the coming years, and will that change be for the better? What should L&D providers be doing to keep up with changing technological demands?

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested in our guide to millennials managing ‘Generation X’ employees.