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E-learning : aging workforce versus technology-savvy generation

By Karen L. Becker, Julie Fleming and Wilhelmina Keijsers


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide description and analysis of how a traditional industry is currently using e-learning, and to identify how the potential of e-learning can be realised whilst acknowledging the technological divide between younger and older workers. Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory qualitative methodology was employed to analyse three key questions: How is the Australian rail industry currently using e-learning? Are there age-related issues with the current use of e-learning in the rail industry? How could e-learning be used in future to engage different generations of learners in the rail industry? Data were collected in five case organisations from across the Australian rail industry. Findings – Of the rail organisations interviewed, none believed they were using e-learning to its full potential. The younger, more technologically literate employees are not having their expectations met and therefore retention of younger workers has become an issue. The challenge for learning and development practitioners is balancing the preferences of an aging workforce with these younger, more “technology-savvy”, learners and the findings highlight some potential ways to begin addressing this balance. Practical implications – The findings identified the potential for organisations (even those in a traditional industry such as rail) to better utilise e-learning to attract and retain younger workers but also warns against making assumptions about technological competency based on age. Originality/value – Data were gathered across an industry, and thus this paper takes an industry approach to considering the potential age-related issues with e-learning and the ways it may be used to meet the needs of different generations in the workplace

Topics: 150305 Human Resources Management, Australia, Computer Based Learning, Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives, E-learning, Rail Industry, Rail Transport, Technology
Publisher: Emerald
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1108/00400911211244687
OAI identifier:

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