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Learning generations: How do Baby Boomers learn?

schedule 3rd July 2017 by Alex Bateman in Virtual College Last updated on 24th April 2018

The learning differences between each generation and Baby Bloomers

Learning generations: How do Baby Boomers learn?

Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. They all have different learning methods influenced by the tools available to them. Here we take a look at how baby boomers learn.

Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z - together they form our society as a mixture of different generations and ages. Baby boomers, according to Investopedia, refer to those born between 1946 and 1964. The ‘baby boom’ term itself comes from the spike in birth rates across the world following the end of World War II, which caused the demand for consumer goods to grow, in turn boosting the economy.

Those living in this great economic time reaped the benefits of increased wages, thriving businesses, and more variety and quantity of products for consumers. In the UK, baby boomers were the first generation to be born in a free NHS and were able to purchase property on even the lowest wages.

This generation has grown up without technology and the internet and many argue that they are reluctant to adapt to our rapidly changing world. But when it comes to learning, how do their behaviours vary? Here we take a look.

Remain competitive

When it comes to learning, baby boomers like a competitive environment, with a goal in sight. They are a generation used to hierarchal structure and can struggle with today’s workplace flexibility trends as they believe in meeting colleagues in person rather than working remotely.

Baby boomers learn well from games that encourage competition, point scoring and badges. When they are ranked against their colleagues, competition will encourage them to improve.

Independent learners

Unlike other generations, baby boomers are self-reliant and independent because they grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They have become used to questioning authorities and changing the status quo, which translates to challenging workplace practices and not being afraid of confrontation. When designing e-learning courses for baby boomers, professionals should create a feedback system that allows their concerns to be heard.

When they want to learn, they are happy to do so on their own, which means when designing a learning system, e-learning professionals should provide them with control over their own learning experience by letting them choose which module they want to complete.

Hard workers

For many people in this generation, position, perks and prestige motivate them to work hard and they are defined by their professional accomplishments. They believe success comes when a person dedicates time and effort to their careers, often at the cost of a good work-life balance.

Instead of skimming over topics and having a general overview of a particular area, baby boomers prefer to cover a particular topic in-depth before moving on to the next. With a strong work ethic, this generation are motivated to learn as much as they can, even if this means unintentionally overloading their mental processes. When designing an e-learning course, baby boomers will retain information better in bite-sized modules, so they do not feel a pressure to complete all their work at once.

They know discipline

The majority of baby boomers are well-organised and enjoy structure, because it is something they are have grown up with. While they will like the independence of e-learning, it is important to also provide them with a structured learning course that provides a schedule and deadlines for completing tasks.

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Alex Bateman - Virtual College

Author: Alex Bateman

Alex is interested in the strategic application of learning and development. In particular how organisations can promote engagement with ongoing learning campaigns. He spends his spare time renovating his Victorian house. Ask him about his floors, I dare you.

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