The new age learners’ group mainly comprises the Generation Y category of learners. Generation Y, or the Millennials, are those born between 1980 and 2000. They represent a major chunk of the learning population today, and it has therefore, become imperative for learning and design professionals to know the learning preferences of the cohort of the Millennials group.
In fact, by 2014, nearly 63 million Gen Y employees are expected to flood the workforce, while the number of Baby Boomers in the workplace will slide to fewer than 48 million. (Source: Solheim, Shelley, “7 Strategies for Recruiting Generation Y Workers,” CRN, June 21, 2007.)
With that in mind, now is a good time for learning and design professionals to explore the learning styles of these newcomers. Gen X and Gen Y represent two genres of learners, who are born in two different time periods. The learning preferences also differ between the two generations.
Gen X is the first generation to witness the growth of technology. Generation X learners’ had few resources to procure information by leveraging the use of technology. Therefore, for their effective learning, they laid more emphasis on classroom learning, relying more on their instructor for guidance.
On the other hand, Gen Y learners are immersed in technology from their birth. In fact, Gen Y is bestowed with all the benefits of technology making this group completely unique. Gen Y learners has the flexibility to interact with other learners, or share information through Web 2.0 technologies.
It is all about technology and lifestyle then that is the significant difference. Interestingly, Gen Y learners are referred as “screenagers” who are more used to screen learning (mobile learning), rather than books. Is the concern to engage employees of Gen Y a real one? Here is a case, which demonstrates the importance of thinking ways to engage the new group of learners.
To help transition its Millennial workforce to GE’s culture, HR leaders at GE formed a team of 21 Millennials from various GE businesses and functions, with a goal to identify ways to attract, develop and retain Millennial talent. The team was named “Global New Directions.”
3 Methods to Engage Millennials
1) Mobile Learning: Mobile learning or m-learning has become prevalent in recent years. It offers modern ways to support learning process through mobile devices, such as tablet, MP3 players, smartphones and mobile phones etc.
Data drawn from Towards Maturity 2012-13 Online Benchmark Review, shows that currently, less than one-third of companies deliver mobile learning, 97% plan to implement mobile learning within the next three years.
The major benefits that Millennials enjoy from m-learning are bite-size learning and it emphasizes “just-in-time-learning”, as instruction can be delivered anywhere and at any time through it.
2) Video based Learning: Videos are the new text. To the Gen Y, websites with rich videos are grabbing better attention than the normal text heavy website. vlogs are preferred to blogs.
According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of online adults’ ages 18-29 reported watching videos on a video-sharing site, compared to 80% for ages 30-49 and only 54% for ages 50-64.
Interactive communication and graphics help in better understanding and knowledge sharing.
3) Gamification: We all love games. However, Gen Y learners move a step ahead, wanting to mix work and play. Games play an important role in informal segments of learning. It is a great way to combine fun and learning. Gen Y finds it a mission driven approach to their learning. We learn by seeing, by doing and immediately correcting our actions and aim for a higher score.
With increasing diversity of the learners’ population, it often becomes difficult for the learning design professionals to come out with a single best learning delivery format. To cater the needs of the diverse learning segment, it becomes crucial to understand the differences from a generational perspective, as to how different generations of learners learn a particular concept, or rather how they prefer to learn it matters– is it through only books, classrooms, computers, internet or some other means?