In the marketing world, knowing your demographics is crucial. The same could definitely be said of eLearning. If you really want the message to really land, you have to tailor your content to the type of person who will be taking the course.
Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)
In the new-found prosperity in the years following World War 2, a major spike in births took place in the United States and historians eventually came to term this time the “baby boom”. In the half-century that came after, marketing and business aimed its big guns at this age group and their needs, doing everything they could to tap this huge market. Even today Baby Boomers comprise about a quarter of the population. Ever wonder why the past decade or so has given rise to more plentiful advertisements for products and services that appeal to retirees? It’s because many Boomers are now reaching the retirement age.
When creating courses meant for a Boomer demographic, it’s very important to remember that these people are middle-aged and older. Though they are quickly picking up steam in regards to tech expertise, this generation didn’t grow up in the computer-saturated world we live in today. Keeping this in mind, it follows that courses ought to have more intuitive interfaces. In general, this is a smart move, but it’s especially true here. Anything that would make someone feel confused or frustrated should be speedily done away with.
It’s also essential that the text in these courses be set in a higher font. Reducing eye strain will make the eLearning experience that much more comfortable.
While making these considerations, it’s important to not make the learner feel old. Today’s seniors are more sharp and active than ever before, so it pays not to pander.
Gen X (Born 1965-1980)
Coming of age in a world full of skateboards, grunge-rock, and the original MTV, we once called this generation “the Extreme Generation,” but as time would have it, they are now the middle-aged. Gen Xers often get neglected when discussing demographics, because they are much smaller than the Boomers and the Millennials, but they shouldn’t be ignored, especially not in eLearning. Being in that sweet spot between experience and retirement, Gen Xers are common in management and other skilled positions, and, therefore, are prime targets for using eLearning software and officiating its use among their employees.
Though entire generations can’t be painted with one broad brush, it’s worthy of note that a significant portion of Gen Xers are children of divorced parents, so this subset was forced to grow up rather quickly and to some extent learn to take care of themselves. For these reasons, many of this generation is full of independent thinkers, wanting to do things their own way. These people thrive when given a bit of autonomy, so eLearning designed with Generation X in mind should be casual and self-governed.
Millennials (Born 1981-2000)
Millennials owe their exceedingly high numbers to the fact that they are part of an “Echo Boom,” the result of the multitudinous Baby Boomers coming of age and having kids of their own. They are currently entering the workforce in droves and bringing a new culture with them. Born into a technology-saturated world, Millennials have experience with a wide assortment of devices and softwares from an early age, so in many cases, they might cast the most critical eyes on any eLearning you put in front of them. A media-rich life has made them generally more discerning about what they like and don’t like.
Millennial-targeted eLearning ought to be specifically tailored to the subject or industry the course is intended for, as they are more receptive to immersive experiences that fit their current needs. Overall, Millennials love to learn, so any eLearning that is as informational as it is instructional will be a crowd-pleaser.
When possible, try and make eLearning a collaborative process. Millennials highly value teamwork, because it turns a business obligation into a productive social gathering, killing two birds with one stone.
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