Aug 12, 2016 // For DigitalChalk Users, Marketing, Online Training Software

What Are The Characteristics Of A Modern Learner?


Modern learners are always mobile, easily distracted, and very impatient. To help explain the characteristics of a modern learner, I’ve compiled the latest statistics from multiple leading authorities of elearning. Use this information to better serve your modern learners.

Let’s break down the modern learner and explain what these new characteristics mean for your learning and development (L&D) team. 

Modern learners want mobility

DigitalChalk: What Are The Characteristics Of A Modern Learner?

We are addicted to our smartphones; it just can’t be denied. We find ourselves unlocking them nine times an hour, according to this Bersin report. That’s 1,500 times a week! But it’s not just smartphones, as 42% of us find ourselves starting tasks on one device and finishing them on another. In fact, 63% of those surveyed said they work on two or more devices daily.

Statistics show that 67% of learners learn on mobile devices. I suspect this number is actually larger if you account for the many types of available learning, such as the ability to Google any question.

Learners consume information everywhere, but only 12% of L&D teams are prepared to present information on mobile platforms. Addressing this gap will benefit your learners and will give your L&D team a competitive edge over other corporations, contributing to improved retention rates.

Related: Why mobile learning is important (4 reasons)

Modern learners want learning at the point of need

DigitalChalk: What Are The Characteristics Of A Modern Learner?

Information is traveling at the speed of thought these days—well, maybe in the time it takes to unlock your phone and Google something. This may be why 80% of learners start with Google when they have a query. Constantly reaching for our devices to Google any question or problem that comes to mind indicates that we are all learning at the point of need. Quite simply, if we have a problem, we Google it.

Learners are most often consuming information at the point of need (52%), followed by doing so at home in the evening and weekend hours (47%). This tells us that they don’t mind self-paced learning in their own time and that many want to learn for personal growth.

After Google, learners turn to coworkers or friends (77%) for answers to their questions or visit forums and post their problems. Not far behind that, learners use self-paced online courses or manager support (66%).

Related: 3 reasons modern learners want bite-sized learning

Modern learners are easily distracted

We are so inundated with information on the Web that we no longer see all the information on the pages we visit; the excessive noise has now blended into a background hiss. On average, we take seven seconds to decide if something is what we need, or we move on.

As educators, your team can focus on creating quality, relevant content, presenting it in an easy-to-use interface for learners to find whenever and wherever needed. Learners say this is exactly what they want! When asked what was important to them in content, they stated quality first (76%), followed by timely content (69%) and clean objectives (63%).

Modern learners are taking matters into their own hands

With 57% of learners reporting that they are learning in their spare time, their willingness to learn is evident.

Are you creating elearning courses for the modern learner? Or are you ignoring their characteristics and changing needs? Use the facts and statistics in this article to create elearning that is useful, engaging, and interesting.


Next step: Check out our profile of the modern learner infographic

Steve Penfold

Guest Author

Steve Penfold is Customer Success Director at Elucidat, the simple and intuitive authoring tool. He helps large companies use Elucidat to deliver more effective elearning 50% faster.

More posts by