My granddaughter, at three years old, was more accomplished in her use of a mouse than several older family members – “click and drag, Granny”, she’d instruct her more technologically-challenged forebear. And not long ago, I was introduced to a group of nursery children, who were working on a project where they were in email correspondence with members of the Scottish Government. Many of us have similar stories – the fact is, if you have been brought up surrounded by digital technology, there’s nothing ‘new’ about it. And the use of it is as intuitive as, say, the telephone for us auld yins.
New entrants to the workplace today use digital technology in all aspects of their lives – for personal development, for communicating with friends and acquaintances, for games and leisure pursuits. They have been using computers since they were tots, they have sophisticated mobile phones with all sorts of add-on features, they participate in online communities, and they have their own Web space. They expect computers to support their work activities, and they have similar expectations about vocational learning.
When we design learning interventions, we need to take account of these people. They are not a minority who can be ignored: increasingly, they represent the norm in many organisations, and will be even more so in the future. It is not enough to offer traditional training events – we need to offer more.
Does this contradict my last post? No, the mix I’ll be implementing with that client will be mainly off-the-job, classroom-based, to accompany planned and recorded on-the-job training, with a ‘bridge’ comprising complementary learning resources made available online. This won’t be enough to satisfy the digital natives, but it’s a start.
(I assume the term ‘digital natives’ is now common currency, meaning those who have always inhabited a land of digital technology, as opposed to we ‘digital immigrants’ who have found our way to this land – there’s an interesting link here: http://www.digitalnative.org/Main_Page)
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