Generational Learning

Disclosure: I am not a teacher, but a budding trainer that looks for innovative ways to help train employees globally.

I have only found a few commentary blogs are out there that focuses on workplace development, e-global training, or corporate training. But one topic, How Generation Y Can Connect with Baby Boomers at Work, surfaced which correlated to a lunch discussion that I had with my colleagues earlier -a matter of opinions versus discussions that is.

That topic was originated when a few working colleagues and I discussed and expressed our opinions about the generational differences between training employees. As a workforce trainer, the idea of training employees is to empower him or her in their day to day work activities. This can be both rewarding and frustrating. Take for example, asking employees to adapt to the ever changing workplace where utilizing good communication skills are becoming more vital than ever before. You have the baby boomers that believe in old school learning, appreciate the brick and mortar classroom setting, and face to face training. Then you have the n00b (newbies) millennials that are redefining workplace training because training can take place A3 (anyplace, anywhere, anytime), LOL!

As a matter of my opinion, my younger counterparts grew up in the digital age where texting without looking at your BB (blackberry) has made virtual communication diverse and manageable, while learning on the run. Millennials utilize what information received to make strong and speedy decisions. My older counterparts, grew up to utilize anything tangible, such as printed off data just to study it, analyze it, and discuss how to find solutions that fit his or her individual needs. This can be a challenge for an educational technologist in workplace development field to close the gap between two generations in the workplace during training.

In today’s workplace, learning how to train in the age of information challenges educational technologists to learn how to find, evaluate, process, and communicate information effectively and efficiently. The key word is collaborating. When collaborating, using wall displays seems to be most preferred to boomers, whereas web-based training seems to be most preferred to the millennials. The “wall display” allows boomers to see the problem and brainstorm ideas to solve problems on a white/smart board.

The millennials take this concept one step further by holding web-based training sessions where everyone, young or old, can actively participate by logging from a laptop or mobile device. The interacting becomes a great way to open dialog between the trainer and learner. The trainer gains an understanding of what the learners like and dislike, makes the training interactive whenever, however, and wherever feasible for the learner to develop the concepts of the learning materials.


About cadeleo
My name is Christina DeLeo, I am a grad student working on completing my Master's of Educational Technology degree at Boise State University.

5 Responses to Generational Learning

  1. mkbnl says:

    Christina, I’d caution you to read the Reeves article from Week 2 again. Along with his more developed chapter in the third edition of the Handbook of Educational Technology. I think both would be relevant to this entry.

  2. Kae says:

    That’s an interesting observation about the wall displays. Are you finding that the millenials in their webinars are using electronic version of that? Are they screen-sharing so everyone can see and do they give over controls to let others type on or draw on the screen? Are they using any mind-mapping tools instead?

    • cadeleo says:

      Kae, one of the observations I have noticed is that the younger generation is willing to teach the older groups how to webinar. The older group, how ever gets frustrated easily and doesn’t want to feel incompetent in front of their peers. So the older group will lay out this grand idea and then ask the younger group to “jazz it up” for the meeting or training session. But that is only one instance that I was privy to observe – as I was just a “tester” of the end product to see if the training did go as planned.
      Last week during my lunch break, a few of my colleagues and I discussed the differences in ages and how training is adapted to meet everyone’s needs.
      Screen sharing is only provided if an individual is given access enrollment. As far as the mind mapping tools, this is utilized in many different ways, from flow charts to procedures and processes for business. Software is only limited to key individuals to create mind mapping tools, due to costs and security access.

  3. Travis Begley says:

    This is definitely a complicated situation. At least with teaching, all of my students are about the same age and in many situations have the same prerequisite classes and background. In your scenario that is not even true. Have you conducted surveys in the past to establish a base line of technology skills and comfort levels?

    • cadeleo says:

      Hi Travis, I have not personally conducted surveys, but other members within the group have done so and have provided recommendations to upper management. My role is more of a facilitator to ensure that everyone is given the consistent message over and over so that job activities are reliant and reliable. My personal experience has shown me that the younger group coming into the workforce are more knowledgeable about the latest technology, from how to access the web from an iPhone to the latest on Windows. I’ve also learned a thing or two from my younger peers, as they have a wide range of software skills at their finger tips. The older group, I have worked with more along the lines of historical knowledge and desired outcomes. What I have come to learn is that collaboration from both groups is essential for successful training.

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