Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Multi Generational Learning in the Workplace

My notes may be spotty here...eating and twittering.

Brandon Hall: Multi-Generational Learning in the Workplace webinar with Janet Clarey.

[Update: Janet's own post with her summary is surely more worthwhile reading than my notes.]

Janet's Bias:

Went to K-12 in US (New York) in the 1970s. Teacher with chalkboard, film strips. College in the 80s = profs, textbook, some hands on (Comm major). Corporate learning = instructor led training, then in 2000 got into eLearning (1.0). After out of school for 20 years, did Masters program with Capella U. 100% online U. Worked at Brandon Hall. Now intro training in virtual worlds, etc. Personal Bias -- mother of 3 school age children. Have ideas about that generation and their learning.

Recognize your own bias. What's your history? Where do you come from?

What is a generation?

Howe & Strauss: "a common age location in history and a collective peer personality." (pioneers in the field of gen studies).

Debard (2004) Values of various generations from multiple sources that has implications from learning). Looks at potentional clashpoints in the workplace setting (Boomers vs. Gen Xers vs. Milennials).

Born Prior to 1946 = "Matures"

  • Nearing retirement. Fear of war, atom bond.
  • "Tell me what to do."
  • Don't like waste.
  • Command and control.
  • Dedicated to job. Place duty before pleasure.
  • Compliant.
  • Not inclined to change ways.
  • Disengaging and preparing for retirement.
  • Learning -- like structure, risk free environment, lack tech skills but open to learning on computer...

1946-1964 Baby Boomers

  • "Show me what to do."
  • Two groups: 1946-1955 and 1956-1964
  • Tom Werner: Change was theme of childhood (moon landing, civil rights) but also structure.
  • Classes in school were big. Lots of rules and procedures (straight lines, be quiet, follow instructions).
  • Like agendas, best practices, missions statements, etc. Seek comfort in these things.
  • Make a boomer uncomfortable -- "do this, there are no guidelines"
  • Looking at research/lit: workaholics, can do, optimistic, strongly influence policy, high tech can intimidate older members.

1965-1980 Generation X

Richard Nantel born 1959 on the cusp of Boomer and Gen X. School was structured (similar to Tom saying) -- teacher at front, not working in groups. After school was all about socialization. After school roaming street like packs of coyote. (This is more true of daughter's generation -- she's 10 -- in school is in groups, after school is more isolated although keep in touch with tech). Today's kids are sad at end of school year; Richard was delighted ("School's out for summer!)

Research says:

  • Enjoy self-study and on-the-job training
  • clear and consistent expectations
  • work to live: work/life balance
  • natural multi-taskers
  • techn not a big deal

Generation Y & Millenials

  • Like experiential hands on learning
  • Social groups = intentional and chosen
  • work in teams
  • active in social network
  • tech is just a part of life, not tech
  • like structured f2f learning
  • like lots of feedback (but don't take crit well)
  • learning should be fun
  • achievement oriented
  • like stories
  • may struggle with higher-order thinking stills

"None of us at Brandon Hall are millenials -- but we have some the tech characteristics. We're sort of like millenials with wrinkles."

Gary Woodill has Gen X son (35) and Gen Y (grand?)daughter (7). Son started programming at 5. Daughter started using computer at 4 playing games. Son (3) started computers at 2 1/2 -- can navigate YouTube, etc. Tech = a world these kids take for granted. [Note: not sure if these are Gary's kids or grandkids. Sorry!]

For these kids, everything is do-it-yourself. You can do anything you want. Shift is not to do what you're supposed to do. Do it when you want. This will have real implications for instruction.

The Connected Worker

21st century knowledge worker/learner

"I'm only as good as my network."

We're changing the way we create, retrieve, interact -- with each other and across generations. (FB < Twitter < LinkedIn)

Similarities among generations

  • Not everyone wants to learn on computers
  • Everyone wants to learn
  • Heavy tech users tend to have similar characteristics

Other Variables

  • Workplace culture (you might have more in common with a 24 year old tech worker than a teacher of the same age as you).
  • People change as they get older
  • Exposure to tech
  • socio-cultural diff

Predictions about the next gen range from next greatest gen to the most miserable

Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants (Mark Prensky) -- The Great Debate

Your learners are looking to you -- the leader -- at how to proceed.

Misleading to apply differences solely on basis of generation.

Kids use tools like MySpace, FB etc. use these tools for social -- they don't have these in their learning toolkit.

Marc Prensky has updated his article. Distinction btween digital natives and immigrants will become less relevant. Instead we should think in terms of "digital wisdom."

As instructional designers -- use ed tech to gain wisdom from it, to use it in

No solid research to show that we should design differently for diff generations.

[lost some stuff here. The perils of multitasking]

Action Plan

  • Learn the theories of your craft -- it's incredibally important now to learn theories
  • Use new tools in order to apply them. Can't just read about them. Can't just say "let's collaborate and get a wiki."
  • Apply research. Avoid the hype.

For more reading on millenials (see her slides, cuz I can't see them).

Slides will be emailed. Session will be repeated in a few weeks.

Trying to teach to different generations is not necessary -- more about teaching to capabilities.


Millenials may have trouble with higher-order thinking. We now have an abundance of information. How we synthesize that info.

Gender differences? Most research has common flaws/consistency -- fail to take into account gender diff and socio-cultural and economic differences. A lot of broad brushstrokes about this generation.

Understand that the new learners are more kinisthetic. How can we teach these skills online?

Next topic will be on Second Life/virtual worlds. Next month.

The End


Anonymous said...

Oh wow. I feel like I just downloaded a whole lot of great information!

Thanks for sharing that. I think that post in itself could spark off about at least 3 posts for me!


Cammy Bean said...

Glad to be of service, Daisy! I'll look forward to your posts on this :)