Millennials vs Baby Boomers: 4+4 Tips To Treat Different Age Groups In eLearning
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Millennials vs Baby Boomers: 4+4 Tips On How To Treat Different Age Groups In eLearning

As eLearning professionals, we deal with diverse audiences on a regular basis. They each have expectations, needs, preferences, and goals that must be considered. Otherwise, we run the risk of excluding specific groups or limiting the scope of our eLearning courses. Millennials and baby boomers are two generations which comprise a vast majority of our audience. Thus, eLearning professionals must know as much as possible about who they are, and what they are looking for in their eLearning experience.

4 Tips For Millennial Learners

Millennials were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. This puts them precisely in the middle of the tech revolution. Thus, they are familiar with mobile devices and tech tools. In fact, they consider technology to be a valuable tool in virtually all areas of their lives, in stark contrast to the baby boomer generation. Millennials are also purpose-centric, which means that everything they do must have some sort of meaning. They are also passionate about making a difference, either in their personal lives or on a larger scale. However, their work ethic tends to be a bit weaker and they aren’t quite as team-oriented as baby boomers. Likewise, their personal lives take precedence over their professional endeavors.

  1. Define expectations in advance.
    Millennial learners need to know exactly what they need to do to fulfill their end of the eLearning bargain, including skills they need to use, when their online assignments will be due, what they should know by the end of the eLearning course. They generally prefer to get a quick overview of the path that’s ahead of them, rather than having to figure it out on their own. So, be clear about the expectations, benefits, and real world applications of the eLearning course in advance.
  2. Make it tech-forward.
    This generation is tech-savvy. They want to utilize tech tools and eLearning activities to expand their comprehension of the subject matter. In fact, they often demand it. Thus, you should be ready to explore all of the eLearning technology that is available to you to determine which might be a good fit for your eLearning course and, more importantly, your millennial learners.
  3. Encourage collaboration.
    Millennials thrive in social collaboration settings. This is why it’s wise to integrate social learning experiences, such as social media and online forums, into your eLearning curriculum. Encourage them to team up with their virtual peers to complete an online assignment, or to learn more about an idea or topic they may be struggling to understand. Set up a blog or learning forum where they can gather to address concerns or ask questions.
  4. Set goals and milestones.
    The need to stay on-task and on-time is strong in millennial learners. They also enjoy setting goals and meeting them. Therefore, eLearning professionals should not only keep the overall learning goal in mind when designing eLearning courses, but individual milestones along the way. In fact, you may want to let your millennial learners set their own personal goals so that they can feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach them.

4 Tips For Baby Boomer Learners

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, just after the end of the Second World War. They didn’t grow up with technology at their fingertips, which means that some members of this generation may be a bit apprehensive about online learning to begin with, especially those that involve a great deal of interactive elements. They have a strong sense of community and an even stronger work ethic. They aren’t afraid to put in a long day at the office. Though they understand that focusing on family is important, they cannot always strike the ideal work-home balance. Baby boomers are loyal and great team players. However, they tend to be less adaptable than millennials.

  1. Ease them into tech tools.
    Due to the fact that baby boomers aren’t usually as familiar with technology as their millennial counterparts, it’s always a good idea to ease baby boomers into tech tools and eLearning activities. Also, you should offer them support resources in case they need some help with their tech skills, such as online tutorials and workshops that teach them how to use the LMS most effectively. Research your audience to gauge their level of tech-friendlessness and to determine which tools may be best suited for their needs.
  2. Offer personalized support and feedback.
    Baby boomers need more personalized support than millennials, generally speaking. It’s important to offer them a variety of different contact options, such as online forms, forums, and email. They also typically prefer support services that are one-on-one, such as video chats. In the same line, baby boomers need consistent feedback and praise to improve their learning behaviors and get the motivation they need to succeed.
  3. Honor their experience.
    Baby boomers have one thing, in particular, that younger generations do not, at least, not yet: experience. As such, you must honor and respect their experience and unique talents by being a facilitator, rather than a simple online instructor. You should also give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas via online group collaboration exercises.
  4. Provide sufficient challenge.
    This generation needs to be challenged. They don’t feel comfortable staying at the same level for too long, and they look at every challenge as an opportunity to grow. With that being said, there should also be helpful resources in place, in case they need additional support during the eLearning course. Offer them branching scenarios and story-centered activities that put their knowledge to good use and allow them to tackle a problem using next skills and information.

Millennials and baby boomers have distinct traits and learning differences. However, you can use this guide to create eLearning courses that offer both the skills and knowledge they need, without excluding either generation.

Looking for ways to engage and inspire your adult learners, regardless of which generation they belong to? Read the article 11 Tips to Engage and Inspire Adult Learners to discover tips that can help you make your eLearning courses meaningful and inspirational for adult learners.

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