An LMS is old school to me. It’s too often synonymous with file folders, those ginormous-in-the-back, pre-flat screen TVs, dare I say floppy disks. Too often, they’re dated for all generations, and especially for Gen Y. But after reading about LMS products that cater to today’s digital age, I was curious as to what experts think Gen Y thinks of LMSes and how they can be rebooted to better cater to younger generations. I interviewed Erin Osterhaus, an HR analyst and managing editor for Software Advice, a consulting service for individuals looking to purchase software, and discussed what kind of technology Gen Y is most interested in and where the LMS fits in.
What kind of learning technology is Gen Y most interested in?
First of all, it’s important to note Gen Y is interested in technology in general. Therefore, it follows that technology should also be an integral part of the Gen Y learning experience. After all, millennials are the first generation of “digital natives.” According to a Cisco Connected World Technology Report, two-thirds of Gen Y would choose to have Internet access over a car, and a studyby Elon University found that 98 percent of Gen Y use social media on a regular basis.
With statistics like that, I think it would be safe to say that, for Gen Y, digital learning is the way to go. Generally, there is a low threshold for print sources and static information. Instead, Gen Y prefers to interact with their peers while learning, sharing and discussing information in real-time rather than merely digesting it — behavior that mimics their social media interactions.
Let’s talk more specifically about a company’s LMS. What are their thoughts on this? How can learning leaders make sure their LMS caters to Gen Y?
I would say that companies should seek out LMSes with integrated social technology, such as these. For instance, some LMSes, like Mindflash, incorporate social learning via collaboration software like Yammer.
When social is integrated, employees can post questions to the company-wide Yammer page. Or, if the question is in regards to a specific training course, the employee can post to a group designated specifically for that course. This opens up a discussion, creating a similar experience to the interactions that they have on social media sites, but in a work context.
Is this specific to Gen Y or do you find all generations appreciate these changes to more effectively train and engage employees?
While I can’t speak to how well all generations appreciate the incorporation of social learning into training, there is some proof that the social aspect has helped companies more effectively and efficiently train employees. I recently spoke with Randhir Vieira, the vice president of product and marketing at Mindflash, and he noted that the social aspect of their product has led to extremely high course completion rates: 90 to 92 percent.
Social has been key to ensuring that all employees complete their training on time, and because employees can see when a co-worker has finished a course — as well as their score — it becomes somewhat more competitive. As a result, courses are completed more quickly and with higher scores.
Additionally, the social aspect of LMSes can help improve employee engagement, no matter what their age. According to a recent Gallup Organization surveyof more than 5 million workers, 56 percent said they were more engaged and productive when they had friends at work. By encouraging interactions between employees, social learning can help foster camaraderie and friendships that will keep employees excited about their jobs.
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