Millennials have shorter attention and concentration spans, as compared to baby boomers or Generation X due to another form of information consumption. Instead of memorizing the dates, formulas and numbers, millennials memorize the addresses of websites, where all needed data is available on their fingertips.
However, there is one particularly unpleasant outcome of such approach. Millennials are easily engaged with new interesting topics but are not interested in completing the tasks if these require spending a lot of time. A research of SurveyU showed that 15 minutes are effectively the longest period of time millennials are willing to dedicate to a mundane task. Thus said, thousands of students can subscribe to an online course, yet only around 15% of subscribers receive the completion certificates, as they rapidly lose engagement over time (according to Katie Jordan research based on Class Central data).
Therefore, the question all MOOC providers try to answer is how to increase engagement of millennials (and course completion ratio as a result). The landscape of online learning changes over time too, and businesses have to adapt rapidly. Building a psychological portrait of an average millennial can help with this task.
What is an average millennial’s behavioral pattern?
Here are the most significant treats and characteristics of millennials:
- They are great at multitasking, but easily distracted if not kept in constant engagement. US Chamber of Commerce Foundation reports that millennials can rapidly switch between tasks much easier than other generations.
- They are very social and like to keep in touch with their colleagues, friends and family using social networks, different instant messengers and email. There are also multiple communities on Reddit, where one can find a discussion on any topic.
- They constantly seek for positive feedback and appreciate instant gratification in order to feel useful and demanded, according to the Huffington Post report.
- They are lifelong learners who are always on a quest to find out something new and interesting, develop new skills and acquire new expertise. According to the White House Council of Advisors report, 61% of millennials completed the college and continue to educate themselves.
The last point is the most important for the EduTech industry, combined with the fact that by 2025 the millennials will form 75% of workers (and, respectively, customers). To say even more, millennials total 54% of all eLearning students, according to College Atlas research. Along with the millennials’ preference to use new gadgets and adopt new ideas, this logically leads to several recommendations on how make online course content more engaging for millennials:
- Make it secure and easy to use. Adding third party authentication and single sign on features allows students signing in using their social network accounts and use one set of credentials to access all services on your MOOC platform.
- Make it fun and interactive. Add tokens for course completion and other incentives. Adding tokens of stage completion along with other interactive elements helps increase the completion rate by 500%, according to Troy Dean report.
- Make it mobile. Mobile-first eLearning is the vision of providing online courses via mobile devices, so that students can learn whatever they want, whenever they want and wherever they want, which was crucial for 64% of respondents of College Atlas survey. Millennials use smartphones much more actively than other generations. Actually, smartphones take 29% of millennial daytime spending vs 8% with friends and 9% with co-workers (according to the Bank of America research). Therefore, it is best to make your content consistent with what millennials consume daily. Here is a list of millennials’ beloved apps as a reference.
- Make it flexible. Rigid time frames discourage millennials, who prefer learning at suitable time and pace, rather than following a strict plan.
- Make it bite-sized and relevant. Divide your course content into small nodes, easy to comprehend and quick to complete. Staying on point helps keep millennials engaged. In a recent survey conducted by the Rapid Learning Institute, 94% of Learning and Development professionals stated that bite sized online learning modules were preferred by their learners (Boyette, 2012)
- Make it as social as possible. According to American Press Institute review, 69% of millennials get news at least once a day, with most of them using social networks like Facebook (88%), YouTube (83%) and Instagram (50%). Adding an ability to share their achievements through social channels and communicate with other course participants through discussion groups increases the sense of involvement in a major cause, which greatly improves the millennials’ engagement.
We believe that all MOOC providers should tailor their eLearning solutions according to millennials’ preferences. These 6 tips will help you engage millennials like a pro and receive fruitful results from your online courses.