Tag : generation gap

I really enjoy teaching grad students in both the classroom and online.

In person, we interact, smile at each other, laugh and even share an occasional pizza. Online we interact, smile at each other :), laugh (lol) but, so far, we haven’t shared pizza.

6 million students — a third of total enrollment @ post-secondary institutions –were taking at least one online course (2010). One third of high school students study part time online.

Students want and will get… un-tethered, digitally rich, social-based learning. Since teens, especially minorities, use their mobile devices as their primary computers… opportunities to solve educational problems abound. Teachers, schools districts and parents will all need to adapt.

But online learning is only part of the story.

“90,000 students enrolled in a building a search-engine online course ” taught by Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University research professor and Google fellow who led the development of Google’s self-driving car. Yes, you read that right 90,000 students enrolled in the 7 week online course.

Welcome to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)– a tool for democratizing higher education. Last semester, Stanford University offered these MOOCs  — Machine Learning (104,000 registered, and 13,000 completed the course), and Introduction to Databases (92,000 registered, 7,000 completed).

Higher education is getting ready for a disruption of Amazon.com proportions. (Hmmm, I wonder if Jeff Bezos will be taking Amazon into online  education.) Educators, start your engines… you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Photo credit: Slodive.com

BYOD Bring Your Own Device (to work!)

You may remember the good old days, when your company issued you a cell phone or a blackberry. The IT department helped you learn to use it and provided support when something went wrong. IT did this because they thought it was the way to insure security.

Today, the rapidly growing number of  digital devices is a nightmare for IT departments and a collaboration playground.

Digital natives (and those of us who are adapting) don’t think twice about using technology to share information. Working together in real time (Google Docs, Yammer ) is commonplace. Tools like wikis and social bookmarking make the job of co-working and co-creating easier than ever.

For those of us who think that “working harder” is the answer… that we “don’t have time” to learn all about these new gadgets and websites… we need to stop, look and listen.

Sticking our head in the sand will not help us, our city, our region or our country thrive. So the next time you see an iPad or someone mentions Google +, instead of declaring your ignorance, why not ask a question or two? Ask for some help in learning. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo credit: ZDnet.com

That Guy's An Idiot: Multigenerational Communication - Ugh

A communication breakdown is common. Sometimes it’s the transmitter and sometimes it’s the receiver. Lalalalalala…

According to a recent article,  people between the age of 18 and 30 (GenY or Millenials) send about 3,000 text messages a month. I send about 100 (I’m a Baby Boomer.)

So while email is the preferred method of communication for some, with 4 generations at work, we run the risk at work of having serious productivity problems if we don’t pay attention and reconcile these diverse communication styles.

To make things more interesting, by 2014, almost half the workforce in the US will be Millienials. The time to take action is now. Do you know what to do? Do you know how to help your team work through these challenges?

One is to get the age groups together and have them talk about the issues. Provide them with guidelines and rules for communication. Hold them accountable for deadlines and projects. Create reverse mentorship programs.

Instead of creating a battle of wills (“those older people won’t learn anything new”) (“those young people are phone obsessed”). Guess what, you also need to lead by example; how’s your iPad?

Photo credit: Sad and Useless.com

Digital Talent Doesn't Want to Work For You... And Why You Should Care

What is digital talent? I’d define it as the very large toolkit that digital natives (those aged 20ish to 35ish today) have acquired by being born at a time when using the computer was part of growing up AND when having access to the Internet anytime, anyplace is expected.

Whether we like it not, this group of employees has a skill set (beyond their computer skills) that growing companies need:  adaptability, a willingness to help and an energetic engagement.

Many companies “don’t like”  that they want to shape their future (interpreted as entitlement), a desire for work/family balance and a willingness to sacrifice  for it (interpreted as lazy) and a desire to make a difference (interpreted as ambition without dues paying).

Check out this article on why digital talent needs to be attracted to your organization from the magazine Fast Company.  “The opportunity to do great things, to make a real difference, is what drives most digital talent. Most companies don’t offer this, so they skip your company and work somewhere that’s more innovative and exciting.”

By innovative we don’t mean you need to have the latest and greatest technology, it does mean that your leadership is committed to understanding digital tools and is willing to learn, collaborate and change.

What can you do to attract digital natives?

  • Give them an appropriate mentor.
  • Give them meaningful work.
  • Loosen the reins a bit.
  • Say thank you more often than you used to.
  • Reward risk taking and small failures.

And for heaven’s sake LIGHTEN UP! Have a little fun, engage them in ‘convo’ (conversation), learn their language, ask for their help and most of all, listen. There’s so much great stuff to learn.

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

Every generation thinks the ‘young people are lazy and ungrateful. That’s just the nature of the beast. What’s happening at work today is 3 (sometimes 4) generations trying to get along at work.

Boomers are workaholics, GenX are more balanced but are still pretty ‘go along with the system’ type folks.  And then there are these GenYers (aka Millenials). I have CEOs and executives asking me everyday… what’s the matter with these kids?

My response to them is, “There is nothing wrong with them.” We expect them to somehow automatically know what to do at work; how to dress, how much time to spend on their phone, when to show up, etc.  We get upset when they don’t do everything we think they should.  How would they know? Osmosis? I can only speak for my own 2 ‘twenty-somethings” when I say they have minds and goals that are all their own.

According to CPA success in a blog post about Millenials, there’s a comment I agree with:

“You can’t pigeonhole Millennials as entitled and self-centered. Sure, some fit the bill … but many of them don’t. Many of them blow that generalization out of the water. Many of them are ready — are starving — to lead. All they need is our support.”

What they don’t tolerate well is sitting around, blah, blah, blahing about stupid stuff and not doing anything.  So what are you and I going to do about this? We can complain about  how they “don’t get it” and “take away their phones” when they are work or we can engage them in a conversation about what needs to be done. I am Board Chair of a small non profit and we have 8 GenYer’s on the Board. They are caring, involved, willing, kind and hard working. They want to make a difference so let’s give them a chance.

How about starting the dialogue with an item or two from this list:

  • Life balance
  • Leadership
  • Proactive, goal-focused planning
  • Networked collaboration
  • Embracing and adopting technology

If you have an open mind and heart, I’ll bet you hear some amazing things.  Let me know how it works out.

Image credit: Marilyn Manson Back seat Cuddler