How To Motivate Baby Boomers: 7 Tips For eLearning Professionals
Baby boomers hail from the generation born just after the Second World War. As a result, they often possess a strong work ethic and thrive in tight knit communities. The question is how can we, as eLearning professionals, create eLearning courses that appeal to their unique sensibilities and motivate them to achieve their educational goals? Here are some tips to help you do just that.
- Challenge them.
Baby boomers enjoy a good challenge. In fact, they welcome any task that can expand their knowledge base and push them past their boundaries. Though older generations are often defined as being “set in their ways”, this is usually not the case for baby boomers. As such, you need to challenge them in order to motivate them. They have to feel as though they are growing their skills and knowledge to make the eLearning experience worthwhile, or else they simply won’t be engaged in the process. Just don’t make it so difficult that they become frustrated and give up before they have a chance to get real benefit from the eLearning course.
- Focus on interactivity.
This post-war generation likes to explore and immerse themselves in the eLearning experience. They don’t particularly care for autonomous eLearning courses that only center on self-study. Instead, they enjoy being able to jump into the challenge and take risks if they know it will lead to a reward. Offer them branching scenarios or simulations that add risk to the equation and allow them to explore the consequences and rewards of their choices. Give them story-based problems that they must solve by using their critical thinking skills.
- Offer consistent support.
The truth is that many baby boomers aren’t necessarily tech-savvy. They weren’t raised with technology like more recent generations, which means that it is still unfamiliar territory for many. For this very reason, you must offer them consistent support, especially in regards to the technology you’re using. For example, if they encounter a problem with the learning management system or cannot access an eLearning scenario for one reason or another, they must be able to get the help they need as quickly as possible. Offer them an online forum or a contact form where they can receive support, or an FAQ that addresses the most common concerns and questions. Knowing that you’ve made an effort to give them the support resources they need will motivate them to do their best. Plus, they don’t have to worry about tech road blocks standing in the way of their learning.
- Praise their achievements.
Baby boomers are independent and self-assured, but they still need praise when praise is due. If a learner excels or performs well on a specific online task or eLearning assessment, acknowledge their achievement and let them know that you appreciate their hard work. Create a leaderboard that highlights learners who are doing particularly well, and motivates the rest. However, you should also bear in mind that baby boomers don’t usually fare well with constructive criticism in public. So, if you do need to address a problem or correct a learning behavior, do it in private so that you don’t alienate any members of your mature audience.
- Create a flexible eLearning course schedule.
There are two primary reasons why you should create a flexible schedule that accommodates your baby boomer learners. Firstly, there are many boomers who are still in the workforce, which means that they won’t have a great deal of free time to participate in the eLearning course and must do so when it’s most convenient for them, that is, when it fits into their work schedule. Secondly, the rest of the baby boomers are retired. Though they often have more free time than those who are still in the corporate world, they don’t want to spend all of it participating in an online course. Therefore, do some audience research before developing a schedule that works best for your audience, and offer some leeway for those who may be busier than others. Have a short grace period for online assignments and figure out how much time they typically need to complete them and actually absorb the information; analytics is an invaluable tool for this.
- Provide tech-savvy eLearning resources.
Many people automatically assume that baby boomers don’t know their way around a mobile phone or tablet. However, a vast majority of baby boomers are quite familiar with technology, to some degree. This is why you should determine their technology comfort level before you design the eLearning course, to figure out how much and what type of technology is ideal for your target audience. You can also integrate a wide range of tech-centric eLearning activities and resources, then offer tutorials and walkthroughs on how to use the technology tools that you’ve provided. This way, every member of your audience can get the most out of the eLearning course, regardless of their comfort level with technology.
- Utilize their past experience.
Above all else, baby boomers want an eLearning experience that lets them use their past experiences and skills that they’ve developed over their lifetime. Therefore, you should put their prior knowledge to use and encourage them to mentor younger learners via online group collaboration activities, or create story-based scenarios that they can relate to. They must know that you appreciate the fact that they’ve put a great deal of time and effort into expanding their knowledge base, and that all of their hard work will help them in their current educational pursuits.
Baby boomers may need more encouragement in regards to technology usage, but overcoming the learning curve can lead to a variety of worthwhile benefits. Use these 7 tips to get them motivated and emotionally connected to the subject matter, so that nothing stands in the way of achieving their goals.
Interested in learning more about how to design online training experiences for baby boomers? Read the article 8 Important Characteristics Of Baby Boomers eLearning Professionals Should Know to learn the key traits of Baby Boomers, so that you can personalize their eLearning experiences.