Learning how to use an ERP system is not always that easy but it can be significantly simplified with an understanding of the needs of the learner. Just like we do when developing new solutions in our ERP, when developing learning material, a critical question to ask is “Does the learning meet the target audience’s learning style and preferences?” The individually driven and theoretically based objectives of traditional teaching methods need to catch up with our modern connected world by embracing collaboration through social media technologies and adapting to the learning styles and characteristics of younger generations (Generation Y and the Millennial Generation or Generation Z).
Let’s take a look at some of what Generation Y and Z want in terms of their learning experience and how education can meet those needs.
A need for speed
You have most likely heard of or played the ‘Need for Speed’ series of PC, Xbox and Play Station games. This encapsulates the lack of patience Generations Y and Z have – they want something and they want it now! When it comes to slow network connections or computers, there is no exception. Any e-learning media elements must be optimized for fast network and Internet delivery and ideally should be bandwidth light.
In addition to wanting what they need now, Generation Y and Z don’t want learning material they already know. They want to get what they need and sidestep what they don’t need. This means that e-learning needs to be structured using hyperlinks and Next buttons so that learners can easily navigate the content and skip ahead in the content of what they already know.
Providing instant gratification
Whether they answer questions incorrectly or correctly, learners need to get immediate qualitative feedback so they can work through only the relevant material if they answer incorrectly. By providing assessment simulations, you can empower learners to test their ability to perform tasks without having to first complete training or demonstration simulations. If they don’t achieve a pass result, they can work through the training and/or demonstration simulations and then attempt the assessment simulation again.
Keep it relevant
Generation Y and Z don’t want to be bombarded with too much or irrelevant information – they want it in a concise format that allows them to use it to do what they need to do. They also want a balance between the amount of content you push to them in the learning material and their own pulling of further information about topics that interest them. Your e-learning needs to strike this balance by providing only the most important concepts and principles in the learning material, keeping it content light. This allows the learner to pull information in the form of additional reading or more advanced courses where they feel they require it. Once learners have ‘got’ the concepts, they can swiftly move on to the practical application – performing functions on their ERP system, using the training database and the tasks and/or the simulations. In this way, their learning environment is a reflection of the environment in which they have to perform competently – keeping learning relevant.
Generation Y and Z are the social media generations. They are in constant connection with friends, colleagues, classmates and even strangers, through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms. Learning collaboration through social media networks motivates learners and promotes a sense of accountability and ownership for their learning. Some ideas for collaborative study methods enabled by social media include learning groups on Facebook, chat sessions on Learning Management Systems, collaborating on blogs, Wikis or using Google Docs, even using a course code or description as a hash tag on Twitter.
Providing learning at the point of need
Finally, Gen Y and Gen Z are used to getting information almost anytime and anywhere. They want their learning experience to reflect that too, so providing learning at the point of need is critical. This means enabling learners to access learning material anytime and anywhere, even if there is no network or Internet connection.
In summary, by building e-learning courses that appeal to Generation Y and Generation Z’s learning styles and preferences, and adapting traditional teaching methods, we can make significant progress in improving the learner experience, get through the material quicker, encourage the retention of relevant information for longer and promote ownership and accountability in learning.
What SYSPRO is doing
Amongst other e-Learning initiatives (http://syspro.com/SYSPRO-ERP-Vendor/Services/Education), SYSPRO’s Education department has a closed Education group on LinkedIn (http://linkd.in/10yrtHF), enabling its members to start or participate in discussions or share something with the group.