How to Cater to the Learning Styles of Digital Immigrants

Posted by Dan St. Hilaire  /  April 10, 2015  /  Training   —   No Comments ↓

digital-immigrantsIn the age of technology, we are virtually connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We use technology for everything from scheduling a grocery delivery from our laptops to communicating with a loved one over a text message. Technology, in short, is a way of life. The evolution of technology and its uses, however, aren't immediately adopted by everyone. 

Who are "digital immigrants"?

Put simply, a digital immigrant is someone for whom computers and technology doesn't come naturally. This can be due to the fact that this person didn't grow up using computers or even avoided them. Digital natives, on the other hand, are conversant with technology and see this age as an opportunity, not a challenge. 

As you’ve heard us point out before, people learn differently and the same rings true for the way people engage with technology. Thus, there are certain ways to cater your learning initiatives to digital immigrants specifically.

Use granular, virtual learning

While you may not have the budget to cater to each of your employee's specific digital needs, you can satisfy both ends of the spectrum on a friendly budget. The solution is quite simple. When you mix new technology with the longstanding practices of education, you can create an approachable learning environment. Many facets of classroom learning can be incorporated into virtual learning, making digital immigrants somewhat surprised as to how easily they can access and take in the content. 

If you know you have digital immigrants interacting with your training, take their starting levels into consideration. These lessons can be personalized so that they begin at a place where digital immigrants feel comfortable, ultimately assuaging the fears associated with technology. Further, use a digestible format that focuses on one topic or task at a time and make sure they know how it will benefit them and even boost their value and growth potential to the company. 

Have a presence in their training

There's a huge importance on following up with anyone using new software, but especially for digital immigrants. While live webinars are immensely helpful because participants can ask direct questions, sometimes people of a certain age or ability level are self-conscious about their limited knowledge regarding technological advancements. In turn, this may make them hesitant to participate if they don't have to. Make sure they have a direct line for individual coaching and someone to whom they can ask questions privately. This one-on-one connection will also make them feel as though the process is closer to a traditional, comfortable learning environment.

Help them get their feet wet

With digital immigrants, helping them take the first step to get started can really boost their confidence and help you achieve your goal. Host a meeting or a webinar to give them an overview of training options and a tour of the training site. A short, 20-minute introduction can pay enormous dividends in terms of helping digital immigrants get the software training they need.

Develop a workplace culture that emphasizes the accessibility of digital media

Activities as common as keeping up with family members, shopping and looking up recipes are all going to continue moving online more and more. If digital immigrants have the right mindset about digital technology and how it will become more ubiquitous in the future, they may be more likely to embrace it. Consider engaging with coworkers on social media and check on whether they've updated their LinkedIn pages. That way, your digital-immigrant employees will start to embrace the new age of technology. 

Topics: Training