How Millennials Connect to Mobile Learning
Mobile learning provides a prime opportunity to connect with Millennial audiences.
It’s been several years now since mobile online activity surpassed that of desktop usage. Since smartphones first came on the market, they have slowly expanded to fill an ever larger place in the day-to-day lives of users around the world. While every age range uses smartphones (and can therefore benefit from mobile learning), Millennials have shown themselves to be true power users of the platform. Millennials not only find mobile learning intuitive, many naturally turn to their mobile devices to search for learning opportunities more readily than their desktops.
Millennials are also the largest demographic in the American workforce. This means that older Millennials, who are now in their late thirties, are beginning to move into more significant leadership roles within their organization, while younger Millennials are seeking skills that will make them more attractive on the job market. Some of these learners turn to their employers for training, but many more are quick to seek this training on their own, especially if they are preparing to change jobs, ask for a raise, or launch their own business.
This makes the Millennial demographic one of the most valuable to online educators, which, by extension, this makes creating and delivering mobile content a priority for anyone interested in reaching them. Here’s how to make that happen.
1. Millennials aren’t impatient—but they are efficient.
If there’s one stereotype about Millennial learners that I find more frustrating than most, it is that they are impatient learners. On the contrary: the Millennial generation is full of highly-driven self-starters eager to absorb information and put it to use. After all, you have only to attend a tech conference to meet an entire workforce of self-taught programmers.
However, Millennial learners do share two characteristics which can sometimes be mistaken for impatience: a desire for efficiency, and a demand for a smooth user interface (UI).
Many Millennials—especially those who self-select into an online course—are power learners. They assimilate information quickly, and aren’t interesting in watching lecture videos for fifty minutes at a time. These learners are also adults with many competing priorities. They’re not a captive audience, and if your content doesn’t get to the point quickly, they may leave.
Your content can be complex, challenging, and academically rigorous—all factors that require a lot of patience from the learner. But if it’s full of fluff or non-essential information, they may simply not have the time for it.
As for the UI question…
2. Prioritize user experience and accessibility.
We saw earlier that Millennials have plenty of patience for content, but not for poor functionality. Of course, everyone hates using badly-designed programs. I suspect, however, that other generations have more experience dealing with the shoddy user interfaces as they’ve lived through more stages of technological innovation and advancement. Millennials, on the other hand, have high standards for UI design. The more these learners have to struggle with a clumsy UI, the more frustrated they will become.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Millennial myself, but I believe this response is justified. You shouldn’t make your learners work extra hard to use your platform when they should be saving their energy for your course content. This means you should go through your courses carefully to be sure they function well on mobile. Design aspects you should check for include:
- Content is responsive and adjusts to mobile screen sizes.
- Content is easy to read.
- Clickable elements are easy to click without accidentally clicking other elements.
- Navigation through the course is accessible and usable.
3. Mobile content must be easy to consume in short chucks in the midst of a chaotic environment.
The primary appeal of mobile learning is that it can be done on the go—while commuting to work, during a few moments of down time at work, or when waiting at the doctor’s office for a check-up. These are times that learners want to put to better use, but they also run a higher risk of interruption.
Because of this, mobile content must be short. Videos should top out at around seven minutes, and mobile quizzes should be even less. Plus, if a user is interrupted and has to close their phone, it should be easy for them to resume where they left off later.
4. Make it social.
While Gen Z is the generation currently most associated with social media, Millennials were the beta testers and first adapters of every major platform from MySpace to SnapChat. These learners are comfortable engaging with others online, and are eager to do so as part of their learning experience.
However, the best social media platforms are also highly mobile. In fact, many aren’t even usable on desktop. In order for users to be able to participate actively in a conversation, they must be able to access it wherever they are. If your forum isn’t mobile friendly, you may be inadvertently stifling your budding online community.
5. Leverage gamification whenever possible.
Like many of my generation, I grew up on video games, and strange as it may seem, I learned a lot from them. The games I found most engaging emphasized problem solving, mental agility, and reward-based perseverance more than games that were only about fast reflexes and button-massing. I’m not alone in this. A well-designed game is satisfying because players learn how to improve their performance, and their success in doing so motivates ongoing effort.
Gamified elements on elearning platforms perform well because they tap into similar feedback loops. Earning points by answering a certain number of quiz questions correctly in a row, maintaining a daily study streak, or earning a badge for giving a top-voted answer to a fellow learner’s forum question are all ways to make learning more engaging.
Appealing to Millennial users with mobile learning can help grow your audience and your brand.
Clearly, Millennials are a powerful market segment. Eager to learn and happy to share positive experiences, satisfying this demographic will garner your program the positive feedback and rave reviews it needs to grow. By focusing your efforts on creating a memorable and instructive mobile learning course, you will be able to reach an influential audience who are all too willing to advocate for products and services they enjoy.