Several generations of learners have evolved throughout the years. Traditionalists were born before 1945. This generation prefers a more structured form of education. Members of this generation may also be ideal mentors in the classroom (Panopto, 2017 and Woodward, 2015). Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They prefer a more personally-focused learning structure with elements of participation, reflection, and feedback within the classroom. Generation X were born between 1965 and 1980. Learners of this generation are identified one of the most independent of the four groups (Panopto, 2017 and Woodward, 2015). They prefer more of self-directed approach to education which allows them to learn on their own schedule. Millennials also known as generation Y were born after 1980. This generation has grown up with the internet. Their learning preferences are more personalized on a self-directed schedule (Panopto 2017 and Woodward, 2015). As a result this generation prefers to have access to information when they see fit through various means of accessibility. Over my journey through online education I have had the opportunity to work with all of these types of learners all different generations all bringing both rewarding challenges and insightful learning experiences.
I fit into the millennials generation of learners and do prefer many of the characteristics that this generation favors when it comes to learning. Based on this I feel like I’m very self-directed in terms of when, where, and how I chose to pursue my education. As a learner growing up with the internet, I have developed a strong passion for online education based on the convenience it offers me. I love the fact that I can work on a course on my own time and reflect accordingly. Even though this type of education is my preference, many generations may not feel as comfortable but may be forced to pursue some form of online education or training. For the older generations, I have found that it can be challenging for them to adapt to technology and perhaps ever become frustrated. With that said I have also found that these generations to be very disciplined and willing to learn or at least try new ways of learning. As well these generations will always add great insight and perspective to the courses based on a greater depth of experience, whether from work or life in general.
Learning more about specific characteristics and preferences that each generation generally has, has defiantly helped me develop a greater appreciation of the importance of being open and accepting of different types of learning. What may be straightforward to one generation may not be the case for another. However with that said I believe it is important to not place these generalizations to all generations of learners. Often they just need to be shown or guided into new technologies and are then able to create and navigate through various types of online media.
I do feel that I have already started to apply this new learning to this course and will continue to apply it when the time comes to develop and facilitate an online course. For example, I feel that the wiki assignment was a great collaborative learning process of different generations in which I feel like both partners learned a great deal from each other. I was very impressed by my partner’s efforts in trying to learn how to use a type of social media tool she was unfamiliar with. As well looking into the future I feel as though I will need to have various methods, resources, and supportive approaches for when I hopefully will teach in a dental hygiene course. This is mainly because there will most likely be a wide range of generations enrolled that will require different techniques of learning. Again by being aware of the specific characteristics each generation prefers I feel that I am already taking a proactive approach in helping to reduce the potential challenge eLearners can face.
Panopto (2017). Are You Ready to Support 4 Generations of Learners? Retrieved from: https://www.panopto.com/blog/are-you-ready-to-support-4-generations-of-learners/