Millenials need a different method of teaching and training from that used with other generations of learners, because they use technology differently. Also, their attention spans tend to be shorter, so the method used to teach them should be less lecture-based and more interactive and personable. One of the best ways to teach them is through peer-based authentic work-related methods, rather than through abstract methods. The goal for their teachers is to match their learning environment to performance context so that millennials find the lessons relevant.
While baby boomers and generation x-ers tend to respond best to an authoritative teaching style, millennials are less likely to do so. They do not follow a teacher’s rules simply for the sake of following the rules; they need the rules to be placed in a cultural rationale in order to respond to them. Therefore, teachers or trainers working with millennials should offer good reasons for what they are attempting to teach; they should make the lessons appear relevant so that millennials will respond positively to them. Teachers should also show a personal interest in the progress of the millennials, who for the most part were raised with the total attention of their parents and are therefore used to receiving acknowledgement for their efforts and work. They will respond best when they feel that their teachers are responding to them on a personal level.
An ideal program to engage millennials in the learning process would replicate the situation that the millennial will be expected to complete once trained. They will role-play doing the actual job that they are being trained to do while working with other students in the class collaboratively. The teacher should remain engaged with each student and interact with them on an individual as well as a group basis, showing interest in their approach to learning and how well they are acquiring the skills they are attempting to learn. They should be praised often and encouraged to explore new ways of accomplishing a goal that they find appropriate. Teacher lecturing should be kept to a minimum and the teacher should instead work alongside the students and take their thoughts and opinions into consideration. There should not be only one correct answer to any given problem considered to be correct; rather, creative problem-solving should be encouraged on the part of the millennial learners. The learners should be able to choose how to interact with the lesson, which should be able to be personalized to their preferred learning strategy. The most important component is that the lesson be very similar to the actual task that the millennials are attempting to learn so that they can understand the relevance of the lesson.
Millennials should be encouraged to work at their own pace and should be able to move through the material as quickly as they are able, as they are otherwise likely to lose interest. Once they master one aspect of the lesson, they should be able to move quickly to the next aspect. While this might result in different students in the same class being at different stages of the lesson at any given time, it will increase the overall performance of the students, who will eventually all complete the entire lesson. When the lesson has been completed, the teacher should go over the results briefly and then praise the students for their work and quickly move on to another lesson.
Teaching millennials as individuals and giving them personal attention and praise for their efforts is an important component in helping them to learn effectively. This generation learns differently from other generations, and teachers and trainers need to adjust to their learning styles as they quickly take over the learning environment.