Learning how to learn

Primitive children learning with rudimentary instruments such as paper and rulers. Source.

Primitive children learning with rudimentary instruments such as paper and rulers. Source.

I read today that Millennials are the first generation that have been coached through virtually every aspect of their lives. Music lessons, organized sports, clubs, classes … they have had an instructor, a leader, for pretty much everything they’ve attempted. This really struck me as unfortunate, somehow. It’s different from they way I grew up where, a lot of the time, I was encouraged to “figure it out.” I daresay I’m biased and think the old way is the better way, and that these “kids” have had it easy.

But in the car, with nothing but my brain for company, I pondered this and realized I was being pretty narrow minded. I came to the conclusion that a generation that has been coached, presumably by people who are more experienced, have learned from the get-go that there’s always somebody who can do it better, whatever it is. And I think that because of these examples, perhaps they have learned to strive for better results, stronger careers, different solutions. It’s pretty cool.

And, it is totally natural that this Millennial generation approaches their work differently, and part of this new thinking is to expect help when they need it. Wasting time on learning a new software doesn’t make sense when we all want these bright young minds working on bigger things, really important problems. We want them coming up with innovative solutions, not laying bricks. And the preference for quick solution learning makes perfect sense—everyone has checked youTube for a solution to just get through this one project.

Video learning is here to stay. The Millennials expect it, and the rest of us are catching up. It totally makes sense—watching a video walk you through the steps is the next best thing to a tutor. However, there is a huge range in the production and quality of instructional videos out there in the wild. Some are excellent, some are clearly quick-and-dirty, some are flat wrong.

Quality instructional offerings are an important way to show that your company is dedicated to the success of your user base. Take a minute to think about how your customers learn and ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Is my learning material complete?
    2. Is it organized and simple to follow?
    3. Is there training available for different kinds of learners?
    4. Do my customers have a clear learning path to expertise?

If you answered no to any of those questions, you need a plan for retooling your materials. Successful customers are key to a successful business. If you could use a trained and unbiased eye, contact us for an evaluation of your instructional and explanatory materials.