I recently did a keynote and session for a large government organisation. As a Debunker Club member – I always try to add a little bit of debunkification to my sessions. After I was finished – I had the opportunity to attend another session delivered by some senior leaders within the organisation. Their goal was to tell all the training professionals in the room about their experiences with this organisation’s training system and how the system needs to change.
I have always found it interesting that there are people that believe because they have attended training, they have expertise in the analysis, design, development, delivery and evaluation of training. Of course everyone has valuable feedback to offer, but in this case, the senior leader stood in front of the same audience I told to stop worrying about generational differences and claimed we have to treat the youngsters differently because she has three boys and they are different. Oh my. Stand by for a small rant – which I saved for here rather than embarrassing this person in front of about 80 training professionals.
She started by educating us on learning styles and how we all learn differently. My migraine was beginning. I’ll leave that one alone. If you still believe inn Learning Styles – here is an article that I hope will help you think differently!
Then it was on to generations and the need to change the way we train the younger generations. The example provided was changing a tire. Her son had a flat. She told him what to do. He didn’t believe her and went to YouTube to find a video that showed him. It provided the same information. SO because the boy used YouTube, training professionals need to change the way we “do” training. HOWEVER, in the next breath she told us that SHE used YouTube to learn how the repair her toaster! (I think it was her toaster – could have been something else.) Two different generations using the same medium to access information to learn something they needed at the moment to complete a task. Video may or may not be the right way to support a desired learning outcome. Patti Schank (2019) explains it very nicely in her article. It’s about what needs to be learned. Not the age of the learner.
Example #2 of why organisations need to change for the millennial… they want organisations to be invested in their personal and professional growth. Okay. Doesn’t everyone – regardless of age, gender, race etc want their employer to be invested in their development? This isn’t exclusive to one group! No matter how you want to divide up your workforce!!
Example #3. Millennials learn at different paces. Yes. Yes they do! So do Boomers, Gen X ers, Gen Y. I am a horribly slow reader and have an even worse memory for certain things (names, title of books etc). That slows me down. I have friends who I am pretty sure have near eidetic. That helps them get to where they need to be faster. Lucky them. Thankfully Google and Kindle are technologies that helps a young Boomer (or old Gen Xer) like me to close that gap!
Example #4. Millennials want learning to be FUN! I am sure they do! So do I. The problem here is – not all learning can be “fun.” Some learning is hard work, extremely stressful, even painful and there is no way to design fun into it. Aspects of infantry training, paramedic training and surgery come to mind. Do you want your surgeon to have fun or be the best surgeon she or he can be? Fun doesn’t necessarily increase engagement or improve learning outcomes. Sure – there is a time and place for it. It depends on the desired learning outcomes and the best methods and media to “get there.”
I think that’s enough on generations. As Christensen and Tremblay (2013) said… “The most current research has shown that generational differences between learners [or race or gender sic] do not in and of themselves warrant the specification of different instructional designs or the use of different learning technologies. Rather than focusing valuable energy on determining if different generations will learn more from direct instruction, e-learning, blended instruction or gaming, instructional designers should continue to work closely with subject matter experts to identify the required objectives of the curriculum.”
Christensen, B.D., & Tremblay, R. (2013) Generational learning differences. Myth or reality? In R. Sottilaire (Ed.), Fundamental issues in defense training and simulation (pp 21-30).
Schank, P. (2019). Does video improve engagement and learning? Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/engagement-and-learning-does-video-improve
The Debunker Club (n.d.). Retrieved from https://debunker.club/2015/05/22/learning-styles-are-not-an-effective-guide-for-learning-design/