Ideas that matter

Microlearning Myth Three: It’s Mainly for Millennials

There’s a myth that microlearning is better suited for Millennials. This is based on a notion that somehow Millennials (also known as Gen Y, consumers born between 1981 and 1996) have a shorter attention span than other generations (as if everyone weren’t similarly digitally distracted). 

This myth suggests that a segment of the workforce is wired differently and has a different attention span, meaning they need to be treated differently regarding learning modalities and actions. This can lead to an assumption that microlearning — particularly microlearning that overemphasizes actual games versus game mechanics — is mainly a mode for Millennials.

According to recent research, Millennials will comprise half of the workforce in 2020 and will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. By these measures, if microlearning were just for this generation it would be incredibly important. This presents the opportunity to look at the opposite assumption: that microlearning is somehow not suitable for other generations.

This is problematic on all fronts due to the incorrect assumption that the core elements of best-practice microlearning(spaced learning, repetition, competition) only work in isolation versus the scientific proof that spaced learning works because it’s the way the people’s brains learn: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z alike.

Here I will take a look at further evidence on why microlearning is multigenerational.

Technology Isn’t Generational

Let’s start with technology. The nature of microlearning content — breaking concepts into smaller challenges versus adding more clutter to a digital learning junk drawer — means making the experience work on mobile devices. Reaching audiences in concise digital formats to share information is a mandate for the modern workforce. 

Revising content to fit mobile formatting is also not a marketing ploy; it’s simply a necessity to work effectively in the digital distribution channels everyone uses. 

The omnipresence of devices means the demand for faster, more relevant information is universal.

Attention Span Isn’t Generational

Attention spans aren’t defined by generation. More tenured members of the workforce aren’t asking for a tedious, confusing learning approach. No one has time to decipher what’s most important, leading to a need for access to fast, relevant learning sources. 

With so much information competing for the audience, best-practice microlearning — based on scientifically proven spaced learning and testing strategies — emerges as one of the few ways to really cut through competing demands on a learner’s attention span. 

Additionally, best practice microlearning is focused on making the most important learning concepts stick, the ones that companies cannot afford their workforce to forget.

Message Alignment Isn’t Generational

When alignment relies on a unified message, what happens when different methods are used for different generational audience segments? There is a big risk in segmenting learning methods, which can further segment a critical business message and decrease unification of the end message to customers. 

The “push” of a precision microlearning challenge is about delivering a unified message to a cohort of learners, and ultimately each and every customer and prospect, which hones in on the most important information for consumption. If your team creates the right microlearning challenge, the resulting message is one that will benefit an entire cohort, your customers at every touchpoint and your ability to win, retain, and grow business. 

* * *

It would be incorrect to suggest that there aren’t differences between generations. In fact, those differences applied creatively to business challenges create diverse thinking that fully benefits an organization. 

But, when it comes to microlearning, there’s no difference in the potential benefits. In fact, microlearning’s ability to deliver a consistent, timely, durable, competitive and memorable learning experience is one of the best ways to unify thinking across cohorts and the different generations of the workforce contained within them.

To continue demystifying microlearning myths, download our webinar.

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