Generation Y Learning

Generation Y - the wired generation

Generation Y are those born after 1980. They are wired generation, the digital generation, often known as the ‘learning 2.0’ generation. By 2014 they will make up almost half the workforce; already in the US there are 88 million Gen Ys to <50 million Gen Xs. This group are in the ascendancy, (in India for example they make up more than one half of the over one billion population). A recent article in the Economist encapsulated the new breed really well: “It is becoming commonplace for a cafe to be full of people...more engaged with their in-box than with the people touching their elbows. These places are physically inhabited but psychologically evacuated.”

This has a major implication for how we recruit, manage, and motivate this group, how we understand them and their aspirations; and it means a complete change in how we construct and support their learning.

What characterizes Gen Y and learning?

  • An instant 24/7 culture, with no tolerance for delays, a need for immediacy
  • A ‘trial and error’ approach to problem solving, this is the ‘Nintendo’ generation
  • Comfortable with technology coupled with a low boredom threshold, ‘snack’ learning, a bit of TV, a bit of internet all at the same time
  • Multi-tasking and parallel processing, preferring visual stimuli, non-linear, virtual learning, all at odds with traditional delivery methodology
  • Collaborative learning where they value interaction, being connected, discussing, listening to others
  • A constructivist approach, ie they have a strong need to construct their own meanings, not passively accepting or absorbing (or being ‘told,’) with learning undertaken socially and then personalized
  • Socially constructive where they both ‘consume’ learning but also want to contribute and ‘give back,’ (c. f. Wikis)