Baby Boomers' Important Characteristics
If you want to design eLearning experiences that truly matter, then learning as much as possible about your audience is the first step in the development process. Baby boomers are one of the largest learning generations today, as new retirees leave the workforce and look to take up new skills and online studies. Thus, it’s essential to explore their characteristics before creating your next eLearning course.
- Strong work ethic.
Baby boomers aren’t afraid to put in a hard day of work. For many of this generation, some of their self-worth comes directly from their professional achievements. They acknowledge that success comes from dedicating a great deal of time and effort into their careers, which also means that they may find it difficult to find the perfect home-work balance. In terms of designing eLearning experiences for baby boomers, it’s essential to create bite-sized modules that allow learners to cover a particular topic in depth before moving onto the next. Otherwise, they may simply try to complete a lengthy eLearning course in one sitting and not fully absorb or retain the information. Their strong work ethic makes them motivated to learn as much as possible and do their very best, even if that means unintentionally overloading their mental processes.
This generation is independent and self-assured. They were raised during a turbulent time in history, and they were required to take on their fair share of responsibilities in order to fulfill their roles in society. This also means that they aren’t afraid to question authority if they don’t agree with the status quo. Though they are prone to following the rules of society, they will also voice their opinions if they feel something violates their personal values or perspective. As eLearning professionals, we must take this into consideration when designing eLearning courses and create a feedback system that allows them to address their concerns and share their opinions. Also, you should give them control over their own eLearning experience, such as allowing them to decide which module they will complete next or which online activity they would like to participate in.
Baby boomers like competition. One of their biggest motivators is racing to the top of the corporate ladder, or a leaderboard in the case of gamified eLearning, doing their best to surpass their peers and co-workers. This is why using badges, points, and rankings, is always a good idea when you’re designing for baby boomer audiences. However, bear in mind that they respond more favorably to intrinsic motivation than extrinsic. Though winning a tangible reward may work for some, they are typically driven by internal forces, such as self-improvement and personal growth.
This post-war generation is all about goal setting and achievement. They enjoy creating goals for themselves, or even being assigned specific goals to reach. This goes for both their personal and professional lives. As such, it’s wise to include a progression bar or checklist into your eLearning course design, as well as milestones that your learners must meet along the way. This gives them the opportunity to track their progress and achieve smaller goals throughout the eLearning course, which keeps them focused and motivated.
Baby boomers were raised in an era where resourcefulness was a necessary trait. Not to mention that many of their parents lived through the Great Depression. People often had to make do with what they had. As such, this generation can squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of the online activities, exercises, and tech tools that you offer them. Give them just the bare necessities that they need to solve a problem or tackle a challenge, then leave them to their own devices. Let them hone their skills with what they have, which also allows them to explore the subject matter on their own terms.
- Mentally focused.
Unlike more recent generations, baby boomers know how to keep their minds focused on a particular subject or topic. They have amazing attention spans, which enables them to stay on track when they are engaging in eLearning experiences. This also means that they may take a bit more time with an online assignment, as they painstakingly pay attention to every detail and every sub-topic. Give them enough time to reflect on the subject, absorb the key ideas, and commit it to their long-term memory before moving onto the next online module.
- Team oriented.
One of the baby boomers’ strongest characteristics is their strong sense of community. They thrive in team environments, whether that be in-person or online. Naturally, this means that you should include plenty of online group collaboration activities that give them the chance to solve problems with their peers and benefit from the experience and skills of others. In fact, you may even want to pair them up with younger generations to allow both parties to reap the rewards.
Baby boomers like structure. Many grew up in households that were highly disciplined and structured, which shaped who they are today. Though they enjoy being able to navigate the eLearning path on their own, such as choosing their next module, they must also have the option to follow a pre-set learning path that leads them right to their goals. Give them a schedule to follow and encourage them to meet specific deadlines.
Baby boomers may not be “digital natives”, but technology can still be a valuable learning tool. The key to developing eLearning courses for this generation is respecting their personal experience and making it an integral part of the learning process. By using this baby boomer characteristics guide, you have the power to develop an eLearning course that meets their personal needs each and every time.
Want to learn more about this particular target audience? Read the article Tips To Engage And Inspire Baby Boomers In eLearning to discover 8 tips that can help you create motivational, inspiring, and engaging eLearning experiences for your baby boomer audience.