Modern leaners are entering a workforce where many organizations are still using antiquated technology and paper-based procedures, which are difficult to use and problematic for your existing field workers. Modern learners expect the technology and content they use at work to be like the technology and content they use at home, and your field workers are beginning to expect the same.

By digitally transforming operations for the modern learner, your entire workforce can benefit from efficiencies, better learning, and safer operations. But who exactly is the modern learner?

Who is the modern learner and what do they expect?

Millennials (and soon Generation Z) are entering the workforce after being accustomed to a world where learning is, and always has been, digital. These modern learners face culture shock when working in the process industries for the first time, possibly experiencing a workplace with outdated tools and frustrating processes.

The move to digital is beneficial for both modern learners and management, as increased findability and usability drastically changes the way work is performed. Organizations must not underestimate the impact of moving content and training materials to a digital format, accessible on a mobile device.

Modern learners expect the environment they work in to be at least on par with their connected, at-home environment. If they can access content at home on their phone or tablet, why not at work? These learners also have habits driven by constant access to online content, so there is an expectation for the digital tools they use at work to be as usable and accessible as Facebook and Google.

Stat Box: When it comes to how these generations use social media in their personal lives, 86% of Millennials use social media, more than both Generation X (74%) and Baby Boomers (60%) [1].

millennial generation x baby boomer social media statistic

Why adapt to the modern learner?

According to a Towards Maturity report, 57% of learners access learning content at the point of need, and 51% find self-directed e-learning content essential [3]. If you were working on your car, you would never go back into your home to use a desktop computer or drag a book off a shelf when a problem arises. You would simply take out your phone to google the issue or part number and find a video that guides you through what to do. You workers want to be able to do the same in the field.

Organizations can undergo a digital transformation to make their workplace appealing to modern learners entering the workforce and make work easier for existing workers using mobile technology. Promoting within the organization becomes easier with mobile technology as existing workers can learn new skills while contributing to their current roles, saving Subject Matter Expert (SME) time and money. Similarly, organizations can save big when it comes to onboarding new talent, as they will become competent quicker while contributing to the bottom line earlier.

modern learner video media statistic

Workers can simply do a quick search, watch a quick video, or check out a quick microlearning module instead of having a SME guide them through each training task.


Making content better for workers

For content to be usable, and accessible in a digital format, it must have several components. There are 5 key characteristics digital content needs to be fully digital and make workers’ lives easier.

  • Tagged so it is findable
  • Chunked so that it can be consumed in bite-sized pieces, reused, and standardized
  • Web-enabled so it can be accessed on any device
  • Interactive—so people can collaborate and have access to real-time information
  • Finally, be structured and semantically rich, or future proof, so that future technology adoption is streamlined and that the content is human and machine readable

When workers want to access procedural content quickly or learning content in the flow of work, they must be able to access it like they access content in their daily lives. This means they must be able to find it with a simple keyword search or find it through related items. For this to be possible, content must be tagged with metadata, related to the assets workers use, and web-enabled.

Procedures and training content also become interactive when in a digital format, guiding workers through each step in a task, making them more familiar with the correct, incident-free way to do work, and making them more consistent workers. As the worker makes progress, management and SMEs can track their progress in real-time, ensuring their training is consistent with their performance and making on-site communication simple.


Want to learn more about what makes content truly digital? Check out this related blog post.


Want to see what your organization’s procedures or training content look like in a digital format?

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[1] Pew Research Center - Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life

[2] Towards Maturity – Bridging the Divide In-Focus Report

[3] Deloitte Meet the Modern Learner