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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Technology Shapes Generations

Generations are shaped, in part, by the technologies which surrounded them as they grew up. The boomer generation grew up in a time of “one-way” technology, better known as, broadcasting . In fact, the technology most associated with the baby boomer generation is television. The boomers were the first generation raised on television and mass consumerism. Read Television was UsTube to get an understanding of the value of television to baby boomers.

This leads, in part, to the idea of hording or keeping knowledge to one's self. This is job security. Knowledge is Power. The TV announcer knew everything and enlightened you at the end of the day. The only three sources of news was your neighbor, your newspaper and the nightly news broadcast.

On the other hand, the Gamer Generation has grown up on video games, the internet and electronic gadgets where knowledge has to be shared because one person cannot possibley know everything. News and information comes 24/7 from the web, cell phones, tickers and thousands of other sources (Google, Wikipedia, web sites, etc.)

The Gamers, a majority anyway, are comfortable with web-based technologies and seem to be constantly connected to one another. Read Who are the Millennials AKA Generation Y or Net Generation or, as I like to say...Gamers, to get an understanding of some of the values of this digital generation.

The question learning and development professionals face is "How to take the knowledge and values of the boomer generation and instill that knowledge and those values into the Gamer Generation?" Corporations need to do this to be successful.

Friday I am speaking to a financial services organization about how to incorporate more informal learning tools like blogs and wikis into their organization. Why? Because if knowledge is not shared, it is lost.

Some ideas:
  • Reverse mentoring (hook up a boomer with a Gamer)
  • Create knowledge sharing communities(technology is only an enabler)
  • Encourage short, quick learning segments (online mini-lessons)
  • Use Gadgets to convey knowledge (Visual Job Aids or Visual SOPs delivered on iPods)
What ideas can you think of to help capture and share the knowledge of the boomers with the incoming gamer generation?
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1 comment:

Cathy Moore said...

I definitely agree with your suggestion to use visuals and short, quick learning segments. I think we can offload a lot of the content currently "broadcast" through a course into a wiki or knowledge base. Then we could use elearning tools just to create short, highly visual interactives that help learners practice with the info. These interactives could be included in the knowedge base itself.

Visual SOPs are a fantastic idea, no matter how they're delivered.

Re wikis: If your audience is concerned about "unauthorized" people editing wiki content, they might be more comfortable with the middle ground offered by commenting systems. For example, with TWiki, I can let anyone comment on a page but limit who can edit the main content.