In my last blog I spoke of what I would include within my ideal Learning & Development strategy. Today, I look at Generational Learning Styles.
I’m sure you have heard all about how various generations like to learn. Millennials have thumbs modified through evolution, short attention spans and favour YouTube videos and games to satisfy their educational needs. Baby Boomers are unable to cope with today’s technology and require a teacher speaking at them in a classroom for 5 straight days until the information starts to sink in.
A horrible generalisation, I’m sure you would agree, though not completely without merit! However, rather than using these generalisations as a mechanism to pigeon-hole employees a generation at a time, let’s instead look at these for what they are - learning traits.
Firstly, let’s have some level of clarification regarding what these generational tags mean. Individual sources vary, so, for the purpose of this blog let’s loosely define them as…
- Baby Boomer – early 1940s to early 1960s
- Generation X – early 1960s to early 1980s
- Milennials (or Generation Y) – early 1980s to early 2000s
The table below is a collection of the learning preferences most commonly attributed to each of the generations.
I’m sure that each of us can look at this table and recognise certain learning styles we display from each of the generations – this is what makes generalisations so dangerous. Learning styles are trait driven rather than generational. It’s a step forward in identifying that people consume and apply information differently, but how do you take this further?
I would take the time to understand how each individual employee likes to learn, have them complete a Learning Styles Questionnaire and discuss the results. Use the results (in combination with career objectives and development pathways) to drive your Learning & Development strategy. Make sure you are providing your employees with the tools they need to aid development, or indeed, the time and room to build their own pathway.
Personally, being born in 1980, I definitely recognise that I fall between the ‘perceived’ Generation X and Millennial learning styles. I welcome the opportunity for self-directed learning but forego eLearning and instead look for white papers, blogs and videos for development opportunities. I would like a mentor but one who is reactive and I seek immediate feedback.
So, how do you learn? Do your learning preferences span the generational styles or do you fit quite snugly into one of these boxes?
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Daniel Freeth, Business Development Manager
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