Millennials: Best thing to happen to Adult Learning?

Are training adaptations for millennial leaners concessions, or just better learning for all?

When speaking to other Instructional Designers, I cringe when I hear “We have to adapt to millennials.” When I hear a client say this, it is often meant as a pain point or a negative.

My inquiries about this perception have been met with references to the “entitled” generation, their limited attention span, or other clichés frequently shared about our young Associates. This frame of mind isn’t productive. Have you considered what millennials have done to improve adult learning?

For decades, we have decided what our learners need to know and we applied adult learning theory to OUR ideas to create what is best for the learner. With millennials, we have had to change our way of thinking. We are now looking at what the learner wants to learn, how they want to learn it, and how can the training fit into their workday. Millennials have demanded that training is what the learner needs, not what we want to provide the learner.


This has challenged Instructional Designers to up their game and it has opened up technology vendors to develop new avenues and tools for us to deliver training. From a learning standpoint, the benefits have been across the board. What I’ve found, and what many of my clients have experienced, is improved learning, retention, and application of knowledge for ALL learners, not just millennials.

So I question the idea that we have been catering to millennials. I believe millennials have simply challenged us to focus more on creating learner-centered lessons, instead of creating business-centered lessons made “palatable” for the learner by applying learning theories.

How are your older learners reacting to and performing with training and eLearning lesson designed for millennials?


Strategist, author, and Senior Instructional Designer, Michael is passionate about organizational transformation and the Associate Experience.

Dancor Solutions is a communication strategy company that specializes in elevating the Associate Experience through strategic and compelling communication. Follow @DancorSolutions or

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