Learning and the WHY? Generation

Learning and the WHY? Generation

It’s funny how some topics seem to just keep coming up and for me at the moment every group I am working with seems to be asking for information about working with and training Gen Y. This has been a hot topic for schools in the past but they really do not cater for Gen Ys anymore, as they are now past the years of compulsory schooling. However, there is a great deal of interest from organisations that are dealing with an increasing population of their employees coming from this group – and of course, this is just going to keep on growing.

So what is it about Gen Y that has all the baby boomers talking?? Well, you probably know a fair bit about them already. Born between 1980 and 1994 this generation has been described as lazy, self-absorbed, bad mannered, with no respect for authority and in a hurry for promotion. To the rest of the “older” generation, Gen Y seem to believe that fame and celebrity is the vehicle to get the lifestyle they want rather than hard work. From a technology standpoint this generation are truly the digital natives. Research conducted by Tech Tribe in 2006 reported that Gen Y spent 23 hours each week online and approximately 17 hours each week watching TV. 67% of them reported they would be lost without their computers. So what does this mean for them as learners and for us as teachers?

Of course, we believe that using 4MAT is the best way to organise information in a learning situation to meet the needs of this group of learners. Gen Y has a particularly strong need to understand why what they are learning matters. Being told that you have to or that this is an organisational or system priority is not good enough. They need to understand where they fit into the big picture, so starting with quadrant one is essential to engaging this group in their learning.

Gen Y also likes to have lots of choice in their learning, they like to be involved and feel truly connected, not just placed into programs to “tick a box”. They like to feel some sense of control over the learning content and environment and want to have their opinions valued, so looking for opportunities to build in lots of choice and options into the learning tasks is also helpful. Finally, using technology in the teaching and training environment is really a must. The use of visual imagery, creative thinking, a large variety of stimulating, engaging activities and the use of gaming are just a few ideas that are getting lots of traction in organisations and are helping Gen Y to experience more connection to what they are learning.

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