Training that Bridges the Generation Gap

“For the last few years, trainers have been thinking about the new Millennial audience,” said Michele Tupper, Director of Training at The Connection. “They are sophisticated. They like interacting with computers. They’re ‘self-study folks'; but they want learning that’s fun and has some element of gaming to it.”

For example, Tupper said, the basic security module for employees covers swiping the electronic card at the entryway and not leaving important papers out. “We invented a game where they have to enter an office complex and find the security violations,” she said. "This immediately helps learners apply the knowledge they have been trained on to real world situations. The gaming element makes it fun while the real world scenario element helps them understand what security violations they may encounter, and avoid, throughout their daily functions."

“Badging”—collecting electronic icons for successfully completing training modules—works well with Millennials, Tupper said. “They’re used to getting a badge when they play video games.”

High Tech, High Touch

Embedded video is another instructional element that works well with Millennials, Tupper said. “For example, when you’re doing on-boarding training, a piece of what you want to do in the Millennial generation is sell them on the company. The best way to communicate emotions and feelings is through video. You can use tone of voice, words, and music to help convey emotions alongside video footage and images.”

PowerPoint-based training technology is still big, Tupper said. “Captivate is still a big tool, but it’s kind of been taken over by Storyline. When training Millennials, you have to grab and keep their attention, so interactivity within an eLearning module is important to help engage and keep them focused."

While Millennials are tech-savvy, they also crave the personal touch. “I would never advocate eLearning alone,” Tupper said. “At The Connection, we utilize a blended learning approach that combines eLearning with a variety of other learning modalities such as demonstration, lecture, role plays, etc. We’ll give people a certain period of time to do the eLearning, then we’ll do a follow up WebEx call. Or, we might do two hours in the classroom and then follow up with eLearning. In the call centers, we start with classroom experience, then two months of eLearning followed up by WebEx. Then they come back after two months for an in-person session, then there’s one-on-one coaching.”

Managing the Baby Boom Exit

“It’s the exit of the Baby Boomer generation,” Tupper said. “I see companies appreciating that it’s happening in droves. One area where I’ve done a lot of work historically is knowledge bases—a central place where we collect everything we need to know. It becomes almost an archeological record over time. We work with the individuals who have garnered the knowledge over time to create job aides. We then use knowledge bases to share the information among the different groups. 

Tupper said the presence of three generations in the workplace also allows for reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring can help engage employees at both ends of the career spectrum, Tupper said. “There is a misconception that as we people get older, they’re less valuable to the company; but this is simply not the case. Older employees have a lot of foundational knowledge which can be used to help train younger generations."  

"I always use myself and one of my team members as an example of this reverse mentoring. I bring twenty-plus years of experience in the instructional design field, while one of my younger team members is more technology driven and has information about all the new tools. I’m teaching him the theory of adult learning, he’s teaching me new ways to deliver that training. The tools and the theory are wedded. If I don’t know what a tool is capable of, I might not be making the best stuff. He might be using good tools, but if he doesn’t know basic adult learning theory, it won’t be effective.”


This is the second in a series on eLearning from Director of Training, Michele Tupper. Read the first one here.

As published by Laura French from TheJob4Me.

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