There has been a lot of talk recently about Generation Z, more affectionately known as the ‘iGeneration’. Widely regarded as being technology-obsessed, Gen Zers are those born between the mid- to late-1990s and 2010. Whilst Gen Z is shaping the immediate future, a look ahead to the following generation – those born after 2010 – indicates that some changes in learning styles may be on the horizon.
Generation Alpha is predicted to be the most influential generation of the 21st century. By 2025, Generation Alpha will account for two billion of the global population. As the most technologically-infused generation, they use smartphones and tablets as easily as previous generations used a crayon and paper. Siri and Alexa are household voices for Generation Alpha, and artificial intelligence is expected to be mainstream by the time they reach their twenties.
It is predicted that Generation Alpha will be the most diverse, educated and technologically literate in history. In fact, technology is considered so important for this generation that 27% of parents think their Gen Alpha child values their iPad or iPhone more than anything else.
Generation Alpha are pioneering the use of technology, seeing it as part of the furniture. The real challenge for training providers, therefore, will be catering for this forward-thinking generation. How will providers best communicate with these youngsters? How will Gen Alpha learn best? What will be the best tools to enhance their learning experience?
Communicating with Generation Alpha
As we look to the future, it is vital that we learn how best to communicate with Generation Alpha. Training providers need to understand Gen Alpha’s thought process, learning their lingo and preferred communication methods. It is thought that the traditional hierarchical communication style associated with learning will become redundant, with a more collaborative approach working best.
Generation Alpha are thought to benefit from mentors who engage, equip and entrust learners; simply lecturing at them is likely to have little benefit. This generation need to be involved in the learning process, something lending itself to apprenticeships and other forms of vocational training. With on-the-job training allowing learners to experiment and learn from their mistakes, apprenticeships are going to be a vital learning method.
Generation Alpha are used to learning through self-discovery. In order to maximise their chances as learners, we need to provide tools and training in a style that suits them, such as through bite-size videos or interactive platforms.
Delivering the best learning outcomes for Generation Alpha
Generation Alpha are going to benefit from technological advancement, and it is critical that the training industry adapts accordingly. We have already adopted augmented reality and simulation within some apprenticeships – such as engineering – where there is risk associated with experimentation, but perhaps yet more disruptive technologies could be utilised? Technologies that will allow this generation to explore their critical thinking skills and provide them with the opportunity to learn through doing.
This generation need to be involved in the learning process, something lending itself to apprenticeships and other forms of vocational training
Educators are going to find it challenging to cope with the demands of Gen Alpha if they fail to evolve their offering and adopt a new approach to education. As we emerge from the pandemic, the automatic response may be to return to traditional learning methods, but what we learned about digital delivery during lockdown should not be forgotten; chiefly, that a blended style of learning can be hugely productive. Not only does this teaching style allow learners to have a means to collaborate and to feedback in the moment, but it will also allow for the latest technologies to be utilised.
It’s predicted that Generation Alpha will co-live with artificial intelligence. Training providers must learn to do the same. Perhaps artificial intelligence, which learns through data, could be used to determine the most effective style of learning for every apprentice. Artificial intelligence may, for example, be able to determine the best times for learners to study and add tasks and reminders throughout the day based upon this information. It may also serve personalised content to learners in a way that best suits their learning style; for example short videos, articles, or a more hands-on task.
How can the training industry prepare?
Some of these adaptations to learning structures are already slowly evolving, and we are seeing the benefits of more data-driven insights for each learner. But with Generation Alpha set to be the most diverse generation yet, we should be preparing ahead for a more personalised learning journey. We expect to see, to a greater degree, that what works for some learners may not work for others. Excitingly, we fully expect that technology will individualise training and give young people the best possible start in life.
Brad Tombling is customer success director at training management platform Bud Systems