Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2013 - (Page 13)
PEOPLE @ WORK | CLAIRE RAINES
BOOMERS OUT OF
THE TRAINING AND
BOOMERS & THE TECHNOLOGY GAP
I consider myself fairly tech-savvy — for a Baby Boomer. I like
to text. I’ve spent hours playing Angry Birds and Magic Piano on
my iPhone. I’m fluent in QuarkXpress. I buy my shoes at
zappos.com and pay my bills online. I’d rather hang out at the
Genius Bar at the Apple store, than the corner bar.
But it hasn’t come naturally.
At the age of 66, I’m what Marc Prensky would call a digital
immigrant. Prensky is a leading expert on the use of technology
for education and learning. As he explains it, digital immigrants
are those of us who grew up before the digital age.
In one of my fondest childhood memories, a bunch of us
gathered at a neighbor’s home to watch something called the
Mickey Mouse Club on something called a television. Later in
life, we digital immigrants learned how to use digital technology
and its tools and toys. Prensky compares us to immigrants who
have come to a new country where they must learn a second
language. Boomers, he says, will always retain an “accent,” “a foot
in the past.” We do things, for example, like getting our Netflix
DVDs mailed to us and printing documents to edit them.
Younger generations are comprised of digital natives. They grew
up with computers, videogames, Internet, cellphones and MP3
players. They learn by multitasking, playing games, collaborating,
and interacting with people and technology. More than seven in
10 own a smartphone. Their personal and professional lives are
intertwined with social media. Unlike their older colleagues, they
weren’t late arrivals into the digital culture; they were born into
it. Native-born kids, says Prensky, “learn the new language easily,
and forcefully resist using the old.”
Smart adult immigrants accept that they don’t know about the
new world and take advantage of their kids to help them learn
and integrate. “Not-so-smart (and not-so-flexible) immigrants,”
says Prensky “spend most of their time grousing about how good
things were in the ‘old country.’” Thus it is that you may find older
consumers of your training products dragging their feet when it
comes to using digital platforms.
A DIGITAL TRAINING WORLD
There’s no way around it: e-learning is on the rise. And,
e-learning is hot for good reason. When done well, e-learning
is highly engaging and interactive, provides self-paced learning,
accommodates multiple learning styles, and overcomes time and
DON’T FORGET THE BOOMERS
But, the needs of digital immigrants must be part of the mix, too.
Baby Boomers are ensconced in upper management and have
taken over the C-suite and boardroom. In the last 20 years, they
have instituted most of the policies, procedures, and structures
that govern organizations today. By virtue of their numbers, but
also based on their positions and earnings, Boomers are likely
to remain an important segment of the labor force for at least
another decade. Even the tech-savvy ones will continue to need
training in order to keep up-to-date.
Don’t leave Boomers out of the training and development plan
and be mindful of the following situations:
• When developing new programs, assess your target audience.
Which formats work best for the content being presented and
for participants’ learning styles?
• Resist going totally digital. Some of your participants —
even some of the younger ones — learn better with routine
structure, step-by-step instruction, and linear presentations.
Consider keeping some traditional face-to-face workshops.
• Find trainers and salespeople who are adept at explaining
technology to a variety of learners. Those Apple Geniuses
are great models. They assess the tech level of their
customer, adapt their approach, and find straightforward
ways of explaining complex concepts — without being
Claire Raines is a speaker, consultant, and co-author of “Generations
at Work” and eight other diversity books. Email Claire or visit
Training Industry Quarterly, Fall 2013 / A Training Industry, Inc. magazine / www.trainingindustry.com/TIQ
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2013
From Where I Sit: The Sustainability of MOOCs
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Top Five Learning Technologies to Watch
We Need to Support Learning, Not Manage It
Supercharge Your Next Leadership Initiative
Boomers & the Technology Gap
Technologies to Manage Information Overload
It's Time to Invest in the 'Performance Zone'
Inroducing Simulation into Learning Technologies: Examining the Key Considerations
The Evolution of the LMS
Bringing Your Mojo to the Virtual Classroom
Merging Social Learning and Technology to Achieve Business Outcomes
Optimizing Workforce Learning and Performance
Badges: Bridging the Higher Education and Workforce Gap
Integrating Video into Training
Tools for Supporting Sales Coaching
Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2013