• Krista Schaber-Chan

Harbinger MythBusters: Generational Differences in Learning

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about adult learning? Who do you think would enjoy learning from video versus in class instruction? Who is more inclined to use newer technologies to learn? In this week’s MythBuster, Krista Schaber-Chan breaks down the misconception of generational differences in learning.

It’s funny how quickly people can jump to conclusions, especially when looking at demographics such as age. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say or have read articles that state baby boomers do no like learning online, or that millennials love technology, which isn’t the case at all.  Take a look at Colin for example.  One would assume he would be excited about artificial intelligence, while on the contrary, he’s anything but!  And yet “the idea that millennials are far quicker to welcome new technology than their older colleagues is so familiar by now that it’s become one of those stereotypes that just won’t go away.”

Learning has always been a passion of mine. I am an avid reader (I read at least five books a month) and am constantly taking courses to develop and grow. In fact, there was a day where the team was joking about how they all have at least one development book I have given them. When I’m not persuading the team to read, I do think about the intricacies of learning and how these stereotypes affect the way we approach learning.

Personally, I have been pigeon-holed into a generational group that is predominantly independent and prefers structured learning environments (e.g. in-class instruction) and small groups.   While I would agree that all of these are valid descriptions of how I enjoy learning, I’m also a fan of online learning and video.

Online education is a growing trend and here’s why. It’s accessible, making it possible for more people than ever to learn in a flexible environment. There are also many courses available in varying formats to fit individual preferences like Sarah and Lynda. Finally, more Ivy league or world-renowned schools are offering unique courses attracting global audiences like never before. I’ve taken several online courses and it’s been interesting to see how they are using different approaches to engage students.