Books vs YouTube: The Digital Difference in Learning Styles
There’s a line of thought that goes like this—we all use the same technology, so we’re all one generation.
Ummmm . . Not so fast.
We’re not one big uni-gen, even if all of us do use smart phones and apps.
Each generation is shaped by lots of factors besides technology. Economic boom or bust, war and peace, the mood of the country, the rethoric of our leaders, parenting and educational trends—all of these shape a generation.
Yes, we use the same tech at work these days. But some of us grew up analog, so our brains and our learning styles were shaped by books. For analog learners, learning feels like reading. Others of us grew up digital. Our learning styles were shaped by Oregon Trail, AOL, Wikipedia, Google and YouTube. For digital learners, learning looks more like hyperlinks and feels more like data flow and clicking. Even as we learn new ways to learn, those initial patterns of thinking remain strong.
Which Generation Are You When You Learn?
Our quick quiz below can give you insight into your genertional learning preferences. Enjoy!
For each question, circle the letter of the behavior that most closely describes you. You may check 2 answers under each heading. Work quickly. Don’t overthink it. Your first impulse is the most accurate.
1. Do you memorize?
- I don't think I've ever had to memorize anything. I can always look it up. Learning a new skill is satisfying when it makes me better at my work.
- Why would I memorize something?
- I wish I could memorize stats, quotations, even poetry. It would be satisfying to recall or recite them.
- If I want to remember something, I store it on my phone or share it online.
2. How does learning feel?
- Learning a new skill is satisfying when it makes me better at my work.
- I learn best by making something.
- It feels good to “get lost” in learning something. Also, knowing a lot helps you stand out.
- Anything I learn needs to have a purpose. Will this be on the test?
3. Do you shine in class?
- I don’t really mind being put on the spot, even if I goof up. That’s how you learn, by trying over.
- It’s kind of rude for a teacher to put one person on the spot. An instructor should ask permission before coaching somebody in front of others.
- It’s really embarrassing to make mistakes. I’ll only role-play if I’m sure of what the right behaviors should be.
- There is no “I” in team. When we shine, we shine together. When the group fails, so do I.
4. How do you want to relate to instructors?
- A teacher is a guide, not an expert. A teacher who says “I don’t know” gets my respect.
- I expect the teacher to know exactly where we’re going and to show me problems that need solving.
- The teacher needs to be an expert, but they should treat me as an equal.
- A good teacher is like a good coach, willing to listen to everybody’s ideas and giving advice in response.
5. Does it always have to be fun?
- I like irony in class, especially humor that’s a little twisted. But don’t waste my time with sappy jokes or stories.
- Humor helps me learn, especially when it’s visual, like a video or a graphic with a punchline.
- I like for an instructor to tell stories about their experiences with the material. That’s not a waste of time, it builds relationships.
- Learning HAS to be fun or I check out.
6. Focus or FaceBook?
- Of course, I’ll check email and texts during class. It’s efficient.
- I really hate doing just one thing at a time. It makes me uncomfortable.
- I’m at my best when I focus on one thing. I can check email during class, but I prefer not to have to.
- I can text friends, listen to music and respond to the teacher all at the same time. I may miss something important, but probably not. I’m good at multi-tasking.
7. About reading . . .
- Bullet points work for me. I don’t want to spend time reading studies or articles. The info is probably summarized somewhere online.
- Bring on emoji’s, graphics, video. I learn more when I can SEE it.
- I actually enjoy reading. It’s a good way to learn deeply.
- When I read something, want to interact with the text. The more clicks, the better.
8. How much information do you need?
- I want access to all the information available. Then I can I trust what I learn.
- I respect the fact that some information has to be proprietary.
- I don’t need all the information. I leave some of that discretion up to the teacher.
- I didn’t know information could be proprietary.
9. What about paper?
- If a quiz is on paper, it's lame. I bet the instructor didn't have time to put it online.
- Paper is cool, but it's weird this quiz isn't an app.
- I pay more attention to something, I take it more seriously, if it's on paper.
- Useless. How can I share something online if it's on paper?
10. Asking questions
- I may ask the instructor a question--after I Google it.
- I can find the answer myself.
- If I have a question, I am likely to save it and ask the instructor after class.
- If I ask a question, I'm interested in the instructor's answer, but I need to hear what my classmates think, too.
Count the number of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds you checked. Which number is highest?
Each "A" answer indicates comfort with Gen X learning behaviors.
Each "B" answer signals Gen Z ways of learning.
each "C" indicates comfort with Baby Boomer learning styles.
Each "D" is evidence of Millennial learning behaviors.