The ‘Multi-Generational’ workforce and m-learning

article by Diane Shawe BBA., M.Ed IEEE  CEO Academy of Vocational and Professional Training Ltd

Social Media, New media and e-Networking, whatever we want to call it,  has certainly changed more than the way we work, the way we share and consume knowledge and even complain. The context in which we work is faster and faster, and result can almost happen in real time around the world.

Well they have come up with yet another gadgetry word, wait for it…  The workforce of the 21st century is now being referred to as the  ‘Multi-Generational Workforce’ because it consist of a mixture of baby boomer’s and generation Y.

Generation Y differs from the baby boomer’s because they were brought up in the digital era. They are familiar with the internet and social media and easily post a question into their on-line network and receive all types of answers in seconds!

With this in mind, we see a lot of the old ‘Tanker’ type organisations refusing to initiate, release, set free the use of this new powerful media throughout there organisation because of speculative fear mongering proposed by their IT departments!  I guess these guys need to safeguard their jobs!  I know the truth hurts.  They say a tanker takes a much longer time to turn than a speed boat.  Look at the graveyard of large tanker companies who just did not heed the writing on the wall.

This unstoppable social media era has taken a few large employees by surprise because smaller leaner business have taken the reins by freeing and empowering all their staff to become ambassador’s for their company  enabling not one but many to respond to change and  guarantee online responsive service and  quality to the every fast moving consumer who can complain in nano seconds around the world!

The investment of continuous education (lifelong learning) of any work force is imperative. With more and more titanic type organisations downsizing, multi skilling the remaining staff efficiently is a no brainer!

Research of Harvard shows that in 1986 when the first baby boomer’s started to work they had to rely for 75% on their own knowledge. The other 25% came from sources such as manuals. In 2009 people were relying on only 10% on their own knowledge and on 90% on information from third party sources such as social networks. New media did not merely change the way we work but primarily the way we share knowledge and learn. Therefore, companies need to make sure their workforce knows how to navigate the vast online environment.

In this sense, m-Learning is more than just a cost saving method but a strategic tool to avoid damaging the company’s reputation and to project a positive brand image.

Social Media and employees
One single negative post or tweet of an employee can have a devastating effect on the image of an organisation. For this reason, many organisations have implemented policies which offer support and guidance on the usage of social media. This empowers employees to use social media when necessary while still avoiding the pitfalls that can generate negative PR fallouts. But merely setting up these policies will cut short of these goals. That is why, increasingly, organizations use m-learning to communicate these guidelines and rules in an interesting and interactive manner. There is another major advantage to use m-Learning versus traditional training methods: the costs. Academy of vocational and Professional Training can assist any company deliver to their entire workforce  courses that are significant in  a scalable way. m-learning provides a solution which can be accessed from the desktop, iPad, Tablet, notebook or smartphone at any time and be kept up to date in real time with changes.

mobile-learning
m-Learning is increasingly used for specific training purposes, such as communicating the social media guidelines, but it can also play a major role in the broader development and training of personnel. One of the key characteristics of well-designed m-learning solutions, is that they create a space where workers can be active and inquisitive in their learning.

What’s next?
On the modern work floor we encounter a mix of various generation groups. In the year 2012 knowledge is not the ultimate goal, because knowledge is just a few mouse clicks away. It is about how one is able to apply this knowledge and provide an added value. There are several ways to make learning more interesting for both young and mature workers. Simulations, e-coaching and online peer-to-peer learning can help bring together the generation gap. Below we provide some ideas on how we can help to accelerate learning within the organisation:

1. Keep it simple.
By adding a variety of  layers, a blended learning approach meets the various learning styles with tool that are relevant and challenging for each employee. Keeping it light by a combining video, images and text without eating too much data.  Encourage employees to share experiences and let them contribute to the improvement of m-learning, so that they experience blending learning as one coherent experience.

2. Work with real-life cases
Real-life cases are recognisable and will therefore be motivating. Employees should be encouraged to collaborate and share knowledge and ideas. This can be reached by integrating a familiar environment. Many employees love to learn if this will assist them to execute their daily work.

3. Mirror reality
Learning is most effective when simulations are as closely related to reality as possible. We know that Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn are the new game shifters in online communications and could be used most effectively in a controlled environement. Competitions or games could help challenge and stimulated the employee to make certain choices or come up with ideas. Be recognised and awarded. These are the most concrete experiences one can gain.

4. Make progress visible
People must be motivated to continue to learn. It is important that one can measure their progress in adopting new ideas, knowledge and behavioural changes. By acknowledging progress, the incentive to continue grows. By creating a competition element, one adds value. The employee can measure the success of the decisions made when they lead to a comparable and competitive result.

In many organisations, there is much to improve in terms of development and training. Sometimes employers forget that the whole organisation could suffer from economic and emotional depression, especially whey no energy is put into real motivation or stimulation.

While everyone knows that knowledge, development and involvement can make all the difference for a company to increase performance. Introducing an m-learning tool to reflect and inspire a higher order of thinking skills which incorporate communications, could reinforce each and every member of staff throughout an organisation.  After all it is not the size of the dog, but the fight in the dog that will set the new trendsetters apart. So  Let’s get to work! Let’s help your organisation stimulate on a scalable and cost effect way with our no nonsense approach to m-learning, courses and certificates that count globally.

For more information about our services visit www.academy-of-vocational-and-professional-training.com or call us on 0203 551 2621 to discuss our bespoke or white labelling services.

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