Friday, June 22, 2007

Profiles of a Twentysomething and a Fiftysomething Learner

In the fact-gathering phase for an e-Learning strategy project I am working on, I have the fun task of interviewing a whole bunch of potential end-users. I love schmoozing and getting to know people, so this is a perfect way for me to spend my work day. It's not work, it's fun!

Yesterday I conducted my first two interviews: the first was with a woman who had graduated from college in 1979; the second was with a 2003 college graduate.

Now these are just two people, but they are real people who are in the workforce who are making use of technology tools. Here's their technology stories:

"Jane" graduated from college in 1979. She works from home and is her own boss. She self-reports to be "pretty savvy" when it comes to technology. She has two kids, ages 18 and 20.
  • Uses Word, Office, Excel, Outlook and communicates heavily with email.
  • Watches YouTube, when her children tell her to see something that's funny.
  • Her kids have FaceBook pages, but she doesn't. Nor does she see herself ever having one.
  • She doesn't have a blog, but she has read a few on sports. "I hear about people’s postings on their blog, but to tell you the truth I’m so busy that I don’t have time to do that. If I have time to do that I’d rather be working in my yard. I sit at my computer all day long."
  • She doesn't know what SecondLife is.
  • She plays some games on her computer (solitaire), but doesn't want to download anything on her laptop because she's "nervous about getting infected with stuff."
  • She uses the web every day and uses Yahoo for searching, sometimes Google.
  • She's taken online continuing education classes to maintain her various professional licenses. I take continuing ed all the time for all of my license. Most of the time I do it online. It’s so much more convenient!
  • She's participated in webcasts for work, but has never given one herself.

"Susie" graduated from college in 2003. She works at an elite academic institution and self-reports an "extremely high comfort level" with technology.
  • "Tries to avoid" YouTube, although sometimes watches things with her husband.
  • An active FaceBook user -- she logs on in the morning when she gets to work and leaves it open all day. "I probably check it about 5 times a day." It's how she keeps in touch with close friends.
  • She's never heard of Twitter.
  • She's never heard of SecondLife.
  • She reads a few of her friends' blogs to keep up with their families. Has just discovered Google Reader, so sees that this could increase.
  • Doesn't play computer games, "I never go online to play." But then she admitted to being addicted to warfish. Of warfish she says, "it’s like Risk. I’m very competitive so I hate losing. It’s addictive – they send you an email when it’s your turn. The games can last 2 days to a week. Depends on how fast people respond. I play with friends." (Warfish requires an invite from another player -- talk about creating intrigue and a desire to play. If anyone can hook me up, I'd love to take a look. It sounds like a very interesting approach to gaming).
  • Doesn't have her own Blackberry, but uses her husband's when they're together.
  • A personal laptop is essential.
  • "If I don't have access to my computer, I feel lost."
  • Used BlackBoard in college, but found it sterile and not aesthetically pleasing. "It didn't encourage you to go on unless you absolutely needed to. I sometimes went on to get notes."
Interesting, isn't it?


randommind said...

That's a great post ... and a bit surprising, to be honest. There's a twenty-something out there who tries to avoid YouTube?? I didn't think that was possible.

I try to do an informal survey of students when I go to campuses to deliver orientations to our online courses. The big three for our students are Facebook (almost every student has an account), chat and text messaging on mobile phones. The big driver for our students seems to be the need to stay connected with friends.

And, Cammy, when you get that invite to warfish, send me one too! It sounds awesome.

Cammy Bean said...

I guess your informal survey results are no surprise. As young people graduate from college, they will take these tools with them as they get established in the non-academic/professional world. I wonder if there's a transition time -- a jumping off point to other platforms? Will the tools grow up with them? As they establish new communities, get married, have families -- what tools will replace Facebook, chat and text? Or will they remain?