Digital Habits – We All Have Them! So What ?

They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit…and with the vast amount of digital media in the world we’re living in, it seems like it takes even less time to form habits for how we consume information. At WeLearn we spend a lot of time thinking about just this—digital habits—how we interact with the technology in our lives and how it affects the way we learn.

It’s something our brethren who practice the “dark art”* –  content marketing – talk about all the time: As we have ushered ourselves into the digital age, we have also all formed digital habits. In fact, some of us probably don’t even realize we’re doing it.

  • We’re constantly connected—we check our mobile device first thing in the morning, multiple times a day, and last thing before bed.
  • We consume our news on the go—if it’s not mobile-friendly, we’re not reading it!
  • We don’t quit—just because we need to answer an email or take a phone call, doesn’t me we’re looking away from our social media and news streams.
  • We don’t wait—with the intelligence of search engines, the answer to anything is at the tip of our fingers. When we need to know, we can easily go find out!

It’s likely that none of this is news to you, but the question remains: as learning professionals, how can we use these habits to our advantage? How can we meet our learners where they already are, using habits they already have, to capture their attention and engage them in our content?! There’s no one right answer to this, but here are a few tips we’ve rounded up from working and training in the corporate world.

  • Change the way in which you think about how to design and develop content. Too often we start with the construct of a course – what happens when you think of your output as a pilot episode, a series, or even an anthology (thank you, Ryan Murphy).
  •  Meet your learner where they are: Whether this is the company intranet, email, social media, wherever—consider where your learners are spending their time during the day. Use these platforms to reach them with your learning content. (Tip: What can IT tell you about the ways in which your employees are accessing information?)
  • Pick a promotion platform you can monitor: No matter how much we know about digital habits, learning about your specific audience is key. If you’re promoting content via your company’s intranet, consider using trackable links to see how many people are clicking through or require employees to sign in and download content. The more you know about what is resonating with your learner, the more you can continue to improve!  
  •  Think in bite-sized quantities: No matter how engaged your learner is, it’s only a matter of time before the next digital distraction draws them away. Keep lessons short and to the point, and don’t make anyone work too hard to figure out what they’re getting themselves into. You need to hook their attention before they move on to something else! (A note on bite-sized: from our perspective 30 mins is better than an hour, 15 minutes is better than 30, etc – take the time to teach what needs to be learned- but also respect the learners time. Stranger Things is an hour long – and we still find time to binge watch that in the margins).

We’d love to hear what you’re doing to engage learners in a digital world. Share your thoughts with us!  

*We should qualify and say that we admire our colleague in the world of marketing – and nothing about what they do is a “dark art” …….except the fact they make content so irresistible!

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