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Online Learning and Digital Natives

With online learning starting as young as kindergarten now, we're creating a generation of online learning and digital natives who are comfortable and adept at self-paced skills development. As more Gen Zers enter the workplace, they're bringing with them a lifetime of online learning and digital knowledge. They've grown up with technology as a natural part of their lives, not just as the means to get tasks done, but as the way they interact socially, too. 

What will this mean for the workplace? 

Fast pace

Remember the days when you had to go to the bank, stand in line, deposit your check via a real human being, and then wait three days to access the funds? Gen Z doesn't. They're used to everything being done instantly, whether it's depositing checks or communicating via text. You can expect that kind of immediacy to pervade your workplace in communications, tasks, and projects. Your processes and procedures might come under the microscope as well. Being efficient is not just what you do but also the way you do it is going to be vital.


Learning new skills in small, bite-sized modules isn't a new concept. In generations past, we it was referred to as just-in-time learning. You learn just what you need to learn when you need to learn it. With the trend of more young people eschewing four-year degrees for digital credentials in specific skills, they'll be entering your workplace with a penchant for, and experience in, getting their skills through self-paced courses. Those badges of accomplishment, through digital credentials, will play a key role. Why take a course and learn a new skill without the proof and verification that you've accomplished it?

New technologies: There's an app for that

Since technology and online learning are a foundational part of the lives of younger workers, they're going to approach the job, and your workplace, with that mindset. They will simply expect to be connected to your workplace systems from anywhere, at any time. Productivity apps that allow employees to organize their workloads will be must-haves. The danger in not realizing this and providing for it within your own IT systems, as outlined in the technology magazine CMS Wire, is the possibility of digital natives who aren't offered app-based solutions and collaboration tools simply using their own. Employees using different, unauthorized tools to manage workplace functions can create a significant security risk. Best to get ahead of that, keep up with the latest technologies, and integrate them into your workplace. (Maybe that's a job for a Gen Zer!)

Older workers must keep up

What does this all mean for older workers, the people who have not had a smartphone since infancy, in your company? It means those older workers will need to hone and prove their skills to keep up. Offering all of your workers the opportunity to upskill in the latest and greatest technologies and earn digital credentials verifying they have those skills is the best way to know you have a workforce that's firing on all cylinders and in step with each other, no matter if they're Gen Z or Baby Boomers.

At Credly, we're the experts in helping employers create a highly skilled workforce through courses verified by digital credentials. If you're interested in finding out more, please contact us today.