Learning from Millennials: The Basics Still Apply


I recently read this blog post by ATD on designing learning for tomorrow, as taken from the perspective of a Millennial. It really struck a chord with me, but not for the reasons you might imagine.

There is so much hype around the tools and technologies available to learners. Mobile learning, social learning and multi-platform learning are the latest buzzwords to grace the industry. The world of education is changing at an exponential rate, and there are no signs of it slowing down. As a training and education professional, you need to continue to evolve your programs—and fast—to keep up. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Is that perhaps because we are spending too much time focused on technology for technology’s sake?

Getting Back to Basics

While it is true that technology is helping to facilitate new learning-based activities, the fundamentals of learning haven’t really changed much. New skills need to be reinforced over time to truly “stick.” Hands-on learning helps to turn abstract concepts into practical applications. And peer-to-peer discussions bring new ideas to light. This was true for Boomers, and is still true today for Millennials.

So rather than worrying about how you are going to re-design your educational programs for the future, start by revisiting and reinforcing your core learning objectives. Then, think about all of the ways you could use technology to achieve these objectives—both within your initial course, and as supplemental materials.

For instance, are you teaching a new procedure for workers in the field? Then what are some ways you can provide immediate access to the most frequently requested information while on-the-job? What may have been a pocket-sized handbook a decade ago might work well as an app today.

Providing Practical Choices—Including Print!

What’s really exciting about being a continuing education professional today are the opportunities to really bring learning to life in ways that never could have been done before, while at the same time giving learners options based on their own learning preferences. This means there are more ways to facilitate successful learning!

Much of the conversation has turned to digital technology. But let’s not forget about print. According to our Millennials and Print survey, 59% of respondents find it easier to learn from printed materials, and 57% indicated they prefer print for learning complex concepts. So while print still provides fundamental value to your youngest learners, technology has the ability to transform two-dimensional printed material into three or even four-dimensional, hands-on learning. The initial concepts introduced through a printed course book can be supplemented by video, interactive 3D apps, social platforms and even virtual technology for meaningful, dynamic and ongoing learning. Which means content is no longer an if/or discussion but rather a “yes, and” opportunity for educators.

OmniPresence: The Land of the Lost (Learning)

Last week, our blog featured a subject that is very near and dear to me: 5 Ways to Continue the Learning After the Conference. As the CEO of a business that serves meeting planners, I spend a considerable amount of time attending meetings and conferences myself. I love to get out and meet our customers and industry partners. I love to collect firsthand knowledge about the challenges and opportunities that associations face. And most importantly, I love to learn—from subject matter experts, and from my peers. It’s how I continue to grow professionally, and how I ensure that Omnipress continues to deliver value to our customers, even as the landscape changes.

When I return to my office I feel energized, invigorated, and excited to put new wisdom into practice. But how long does that energy and momentum last after the conference? Unfortunately, not long enough.

I once read that an estimated two-thirds of learning and/or training gained through conferences and other educational sessions will be lost within 6 months without ongoing reinforcement. I can personally attest that, even with the absolute best intentions, we all get caught up in our own daily activities, leaving little time to put the learning from a conference into practice.

Stepping out onto our production floor, peering through the pallets upon pallets of printed knowledge, hot off the presses, it’s evident that there is an incredible volume of content that is developed for meetings. I couldn’t help but think about all of the time that has been invested in developing, packaging and distributing all of this content, and what a shame it is to know that up to two-thirds could be forgotten. Unless….

We work with many associations that have successfully lengthened the shelf life of their conference materials by making them accessible through a dedicated website that houses all past, current and future conference content. They use this website to drive a content marketing strategy that provides ongoing visibility and reinforcement of key topics to attendees throughout the year through while at the same time generating interest for next year’s conference.

How is your association maintaining visibility for your content after the conference? Do you have any tactics that have proven successful? Share the learning here by leaving a comment. Or, if you’re looking to implement a strategy for the first time, let us know. We can share some thoughts on what others are doing.

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