Are You Really Ready For The Digital Age? For The Digital Generation(s)?
Technology is constantly evolving to where it is simply ingrained in our everyday lives. Case in point, we have become thoroughly dependent on the functionalities of a smartphone. We want information at our fingertips. We want the instant gratification of finding out what we don’t know. In fact, today, it is said that 90% of the US population that own a smartphone has it with him/her 24/7. It is truly a necessity for most people. It is amazing to think that there was once a time when people actually functioned without a mobile device in their everyday lives.
Meanwhile, I am becoming more and more amazed at the (fully) “Digital Generations” – Gen Z, and beyond. At the young age of 1½, my nephew was able to unlock and effortlessly maneuver his way around an iPhone, from swiping through photos to playing his video of choice. These younger generations have adapted so quickly to the ins and outs of current tech devices, it is almost unreal. But, could this fluidity be just a hint of what is to come? His savvy-ness is already far ahead of my own Millennial tech-readiness.
The generation behind me, Generation Z, is basically no different than my nephew. They have never known a world without technology, devices, the Internet, music downloads and even social media. Since this generation is so quick to consume information and then move on, consumer and marketing tactics have also had to adapt to capture this audience. For instance, Dan Schawbel of Millenial Branding was quoted in the New York Times regarding Gen Z, “we tell our advertising partners that if they don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach this generation.” It seems this same sentiment needs to be conveyed to employers, as well.
After all, Gen Z is quickly entering the workforce. Therefore, management and businesses will need to adapt. They will have to have an awareness and understanding of this next generation’s thought process, sooner than later. Training, learning and development programs are going to be central to this change in thought, change in approach. The traditional ways of doing things are not going to work, including the traditional means of learning and training.
iPads and laptops are already the norm in schools at a younger age and earlier grade level every year. According to a recent Forbes article, today, over 50% of K-12 students have access to an in-class laptop, or tablet. Yes, elementary schools are incorporating and using a blended learning approach, as we speak. In this setting, it is found that technology truly supports learning. It utilizes what they already know in terms of the technology and devices to encourage learning.
Furthermore, going forward, teachers will be able to take advantage of artificial intelligence & personalization technologies for several tasks, including grading and delivering coursework based on learning styles. As technology evolves, it makes one wonder if future classrooms will have teachers leading instruction, or if it will be a personalized, self-directed AI approach with teachers taking a more reinforcement, coaching, mentoring role.
Bottom line, the way employees are learning will need to shift, as these generations with further tech experience enter the working world. Similarly, new technologies and new approaches will have to make their way into corporations. Each generation is digesting information differently. Priorities and preferences are shifting. The need to replace routine jobs with machines for increased productivity will remain. However, skills will shift to a new paradigm of workforce needs. Employees need to be ready, managers need to train, while leadership needs to support such change. If they don’t adapt, the company will not evolve, grow, be competitive and enjoy profitability.
The up and coming generations are sure to accomplish great things with their own tech savvy capabilities. These children will continue to grow up using the latest technology, which will lead them to envision the latest and greatest new technologies. Let’s take their lead for their ideas, inspiration, innovation and evolution in the corporate learning field too. Let’s be ready for these digital generations!