Published on 2012/04/06

The Internet Changed How We Learn And Work

The Internet Changed How We Learn And Work
The internet has changed the way humans use computers and has evolved into a gateway to the world for everyone. Photo by Liz West.

Based on the number of Internet users and members of everything from Google and eBay to Facebook and YouTube; using the Internet is as common as driving a car or making a phone call.  Millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2002 or Gen Y, will mostly never know how life was without the use of the Internet.  That’s almost as bad a life without Starbucks.

We noted in Part 2 of this series that Millennials will soon make up 40% of the workforce according to the Department of Labor, while at the same time 10,000 Baby Boomers and Traditional generations retire or leave the workforce.  This translates to information overload for Millennials, though as we know, they are

  • Tech Savvy
  • A community of friends
  • War hardened
  • Confident
  • Socially conscience
  • Family Centric

The challenge will not be how to capitalize on using the Internet with the current connected devices and readily accessible WiFi.  Another challenge will be lack of standards among Operating Systems O/S, formats and applications.  In addition, as the amount of data collection, capture and storage continues; how to sort, tag, categories, and store BIG DATA.

An increasing number of knowledge workers, those with 4 year degrees or more, coming into the workforce, are impatient to fit into the culture of the company and to make a difference.  Being tech savvy in using the Internet and Web 2.0 apps, they want the exact information they need to do their job today, this hour, this minute.

Where do I find xxxxxxx right now?  Can I Google it?  Where within the company network can I find information on this, right now?  Why can’t I search all the data stored internally to find what I need?  Employers are often not accustomed to this level of instant engagement, nor realize the impatience of this cohort to be successful.  They won’t wait, stay with your firm, if you don’t show them their specific career path based on performance and show them how to achieve it.

Why? They grew up using the Internet in ever increasing search, connect and sharing – unique to Gen Y.

Some of us will still remember the rise of the Internet and the possibilities it brought.  Some of us also remember the over optimism of business on the Web before it was ready.  It was a rush to profit, or so many investors thought without close examination of business plans.  It was boom to bust!

It seemed almost necessary to “flush out” fuzzy math and speculators in order to have time to see the Internet’s TRUE values other than cheap bandwidth, chat and email.  More importantly we could see the value of working from anywhere – early on called telecommuting.  The full impact on travel expense, reduced fuel consumption, and data management is still yet to be realized; but the Internet has and will play a key role as these developments mature.

How will all this effect a shift in learning?  It already has.  You can now get a degree for many major areas of business on-line through private and public on-line universities.  Organizations have largely embraced self-paced learning, corporate universities and more formal learning via the Internet or internal network with wide adoption of Learning Management Systems, Document Management Systems and HR Management Systems.

Though the executive suite has certainly accepted the use of these technologies, it is important to note there have been varying degrees of success.  Many saw the learning and support technologies made possible by broad  Internet access as a panacea rather than just support tools.  Few understood the change or impact the change in generational and culture mix would play in the workforce.  We all knew the Internet was global, but slow to realize the implications on the workforce and learning — language issues, ethnic and cultural issues, monetary issues, etc.

Today when we attend any webinar, there may be thousands from many nations, cultures and values attending.  Similarly, “push/pull” fully interactive learning content is available 365/24/7 on most Smartphones, tablets and laptops.  The evolution of the Internet from text  messaging capability to full streaming media has made the Internet an integral part of the lives of most of the population on the planet in one form or another.

From being simple word-processors, the internet has made computers our gateway to the world.

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