The following is a Q&A with Crystal Kadakia and Lisa M.D. Owens, the authors of Designing for Modern Learning: Beyond ADDIE and SAM, the latest book from ATD Press about how L&D professionals can better design for the modern learner.

1. What does “Designing for Modern Learning” mean? Is there a definition for modern learning or for the modern learner?

Crystal: When people hear the term modern learner, almost everyone thinks or describes someone from the millennial generation. Yet the definition of modern learner is much broader and more inclusive. We define a modern learner as someone who needs to learn fast in an ever-changing environment, who will access a wide variety of resources to get answers.

When we researched solutions for designing for modern learners, the common solution seemed to be to throw more technology into the mix to keep young people engaged. Yet, in talking to modern learners, that’s not what they were seeking. The key to designing for modern learners is to design pathways that quickly connect these learners to the best learning content and programs at their most likely moments of learning need. They might not use the same tools all the time and they might look for different content on different channels. It’s much more contextual and it’s also related to the mindset of a learner. Modern learners are focused on ongoing learning.