Much has changed in the last two decades. Technology has revolutionized how we work. The Internet has enabled worldwide collaboration. Five generations are active in the workforce, and with Millennials the largest segment since 2016, digital natives have become the majority.
At the same time, a bombardment of bite-sized information and rise of multi-tasking has decreased attention spans and patience. Today, when we have questions, we reflexively hop online for the most highly ranked articles and videos, and maybe ask our social networks for quick help.
This has given rise to the phrase “modern learner,” coined by Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte. It applies to someone who is in an environment where content and learning needs change rapidly. Modern learners desire answers right away, and as Bersin noted, they’re typically “overwhelmed, distracted, and impatient.”
Sounds like a lot of us, right? The problem is, Bersin by Deloitte research has also noted that “1 percent of a typical work week is all that employees have to focus on training and development.”
That said, when it comes to educating modern learners in our increasingly diverse workplaces, Training and Human Resources leaders must make sure classes are as productive as possible. That requires the right mix of technology and content, delivered in the most powerful ways.
Lift Your Learning
There are three trends in customer education that specifically target modern learners. When you think about a company representative providing assistance or support with something like software, it makes sense that these are also giving training a lift. The trends include:
- Learn by doing: A hands-on experience makes for better retention. Trainers are engaging learners by making sessions more “active.”
- Challenge: It’s no longer enough to train on details such as product features, it’s about fixing bigger problems. Trainers are teaching solutions, showing how they should be applied, and creating challenges for learners to solve.
- Make it real: Static screenshots and materials don’t cut it. Teaching someone to solve issues requires realistic scenarios learners can try themselves.
Recognizing these trends, understanding the preferences of modern learners, and supporting training with virtual IT labs results in learning experiences that are far more effective. And the following step-by-step process can help make that training unforgettable.
Small Steps, Big Gains
According to research by Chartbeat, you have 15 seconds to grab someone’s attention on a Website. For that same reason, it’s important to create engaging training—modern learners move particularly fast and you’ll lose them otherwise. Following these steps can you help you develop a practical training development strategy, one you can build upon over time.
- Do discovery: The first step is to step back. Collect feedback from a range of functions, including customer success, sales, support, and learners themselves. Make specific inquiries, for instance, knowing the first question a sales prospect typically asks may unearth knowledge gaps, which then can become a focus of training. When it comes to learners, speaking with those who are most engaged can help you identify best practices. More important, those not-so-engaged learners can explain why training didn’t take hold, enabling you to strengthen your sessions.
- Take inventory: Make a list of all your training courses with data on how they performed. Even a simple five-column spreadsheet with headers such as topic, Format, Enrollment, Completion Rate, and Performance will show correlations. Right away, you’ll be able to see what topics generate the most interest. You might find completion rates are lower when your format relies solely on static text. Taking inventory helps you retire lackluster sessions and hone your offerings.
- Create immersive experiences: Virtual IT labs provide modern learners with interactive, risk-free experiences in real-world environments, accessible through a Web browser. This fosters learning by doing, one of the most effective ways to educate. When training and on-the-job tasks are the same, information transfer is even more likely. This is why airline pilots and surgeons practice on simulators. Modern learners grow by doing, too, and if they fail, they can always start again.
- Measure and optimize: Traditional learning metrics and those provided by virtual IT lab platforms can set trainers up for newfound success. From key performance indicators into actual trainee usage to easily harvesting feedback, data can measure the learner experience and support decision-making to optimize courses and content, and drive return on training investments.
These steps can create the best product for modern learners. Yet, at the end of the day, even the most powerful content won’t matter if it’s not seen. That means you need to deliver training in the most efficient way possible.
Virtual IT training labs can generate those immersive real-world environments, challenges, and gamified scenarios. But more fundamentally, when based in the cloud, they can enable you to reach anyone, anywhere via the Internet. Still, make sure any solution you consider is easily deployable. You don’t want users installing plugins, dealing with firewalls, or needing to bring in IT. This creates frustration before training has even begun, while raising management costs.
Further, even if instructors are a thousand miles away, they must be able to see what trainees are working on in real time and help. Make sure they have the right supporting tools, such as over-the-shoulder monitoring and a chat feature, so they can offer assistance exactly when it’s needed most of all.
It’s all comes down to reaching them and teaching them, and with modern learners, you have to make every second count.
CloudShare provides virtual labs for software training, sales demos, and POCs.