2.7 - That's Awesome Gen Z in L&D!


Instructional designer and eLearning developer, Asha Mohamud, joins me to talk about her journey into the field of L&D at such a young age. We also discuss the things that excite her about the field, and the ways in which her generation prefers to consume content, whether that be for entertainment or for learning.


Connect with Asha on LinkedIn.

 

The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos or spelling errors.


Leslie Early

Okay today I have Asha Mohamud in the house. Thank you for joining me, Asha.


Asha Mohamud

Thank you for having me lovely. Excited to be here.


Leslie Early

Yay. Um, so Asha is an instructional designer and elearning developer at Frederickson Learning. And she also volunteers as a board member on the pact board, which is a really awesome organization here locally in Minnesota. And we've had a couple of people from pact on the show, we've had Stacy Salinas and we've had Brenda Peterson. So if I'm forgetting anybody else, I feel terrible about that. But that's also awesome Asha that you know, at at your age, I mean, you're relatively new to this field that you were like, Yeah, I'm just gonna jump on the board of pack like no big deal.


Asha Mohamud

Oh, yeah. I think package has been such an important organization in me finding L&D and, you know, my journey in it. And I just was like, no, why not? Might as well contribute back to something that I enjoy. And that introduced me to the field.


Leslie Early

Yes, I think that's super smart. And what a great way Yeah. to immerse yourself in like the community of learning and development here in the Twin Cities. Super, super smart. But we are not really here to talk about packed. We're here to talk about you, Asha. Because really, to be honest, you're my youngest co worker, I hope you don't mind me saying that. But you know, you're relatively young for someone who's in this field of learning and development. And, you know, we work together at Frederickson learning. And despite your age, you know, you came in, you're super serious about learning and growing in in your position as an instructional designer and developer. And I mean, obviously, you've joined pact as a board member. And you know, you're just, you're just a great co worker. And I would say that, you know, even if, even if you were older, but you know, essentially, I just think you're totally awesome, which is why I brought you on to That's Awesome. ID. But I'm curious. I know a little bit about your story. But I'm curious, you know, How did someone in your position with with your level of experience, how did you find your way into lnd? Because it's usually not something that people jump into right out of, you know, their undergraduate degree.


Asha Mohamud

Yeah, that's so true. Yeah. So yeah, I've found l&d in a way that a lot of people do by accident. And it was a, basically, so I in in college, I tried on a lot of different hats. I actually began studying education, what was an interest in teaching of diverse multicultural learners, specifically elementary education. And so I got the chance to become a teacher's assistant in the education department for a class about storytelling and multicultural America, and kind of got to see what it was like in a classroom setting grading papers, and the like. And so I enjoyed so much of that experience. But it was a lot of intense work. And so I found myself drawn to going into this field of technical writing. And so that was my second hat. So I became a technical writing and communications major and joined the University of Minnesota's cab program, which is the technical communications advisory board program for mentorship. And that's where I met Christina Young, who introduced me to pack and so it's a little bit of my little path of accidents that got me to learn about instructional design and learn about the field of learning and development. And so I think my very first point where I started to fall in love with learning and development was the very first pack meeting that I went to, which was about XR, so it was a it was a basically a talk about augmented reality and virtual reality. And so I remember just kind of sitting in completely unaware college students of what this entire field was. And so that was kind of my first introduction of the potential like the future potential of where the CEO to go and so doing my own research of, you know, talking with my mentor and learning about what what skills really make a good instructional designer, what skills makes them make somebody that for this field is the intersection of teaching of design of writing of, you know, strategizing, and I found that it can have spent my skills really wow. Yeah. And I remember saying like I had, because so many people in in learning and development go from education and to learning and development. And so I kind of had that mini teacher to lnd pipeline, like in college. All


Leslie Early

right, you did like the, the abbreviated version of. Yeah. So it does sound like you had, you know, I like that you called it your mini teacher to lnd pipeline, because I feel like you're right. This is this is a path that a lot of us take. It sounds like you did have some experience being in the classroom a little bit. And so maybe you realize that a early age, that's not the right place for you, which I didn't hit until I was about 10 years in. But it sounds like you're you're you're relatively happy kind of doing what you're doing. I mean, at least it seems that way. I can't I can't put words in your mouth. But it seems like you're enjoying what you're doing.


Asha Mohamud

Oh, yeah, definitely.


Leslie Early

So now that you've kind of been in this role for you know, it's not quite a year coming up on a year, April. Right. Is that right? Did I remember that? Yeah. Roll is a year for you. So so far, what have you enjoyed most about, you know, this new world of l&d?


Asha Mohamud

What have I enjoyed most I have, like you were saying I've, I really, really enjoy this field. I think working with Fredriksson. And, you know, seeing and networking with so many people in pack, I really got to see the best sides of L&D and have been really immersed in the community in the Twin Cities. So my favorite parts of lnd will have to be, like I was saying, what really inspired me to really want to learn a lot about the potential and the future of LNG was XR and so I've become kind of a little bit of a enthusiast, I recently got a virtual reality headset for my birthday. And it was the most perfect puzzle anyone can give me because I have been really intrigued and interested in learning about how immersive kind of reality can lend itself to a learning experience, specifically with high risk industries like surgery, you know, aviation, it's very much used in aerospace. And I feel like those I don't know much about it yet. But I you know, I recently joined the XR in LXD Meetup group. Yeah, thank you for letting me know about it and reaching out about it, because I really was inspired by that entire world, and the possibilities that it can create. Yeah, so that's one of the one of the things that I like the most about, you know, L&D it's not something I have a lot of experience in, but I really would like to learn more about it.


Leslie Early

Yeah, me too. I'm in the same boat with you. I think there's just so much potential there for it's just a different, it's just a different strategy. It's a different kind of learning that you can get in that type of immersive environment than you can from learning, you know, through a book or through your computer or through your phone. Not that those things aren't also valid. I mean, we are not, we didn't get rid of books, right, just because we have computers. So I think we're not going to get rid of everything else. But it's nice that I think it's really cool. This new whole new dimension that is opening up for certain types of learning. So I'm right there with you.


Asha Mohamud

Yeah, it definitely does feel like a new dimension. I think. Just exploring it, I know that you're also somebody who really enjoys gaming. And I feel like for me, I think the times I learned the best are when it feels less like a chore and more like a game. And I feel like especially when it comes to learning that requires a simulation of some type. I feel like you know, especially with like VR, even AR and it just feels like a whole new tool for us to use to enhance the learning experience. And I feel like it's an option and I think it's a really cool option.


Leslie Early

Yeah, and like now now you're making me I mean, this is not part of our prepared questions but you're making you're sending my brain down a different avenue of like, I hate to make you this folks person of your generation. It makes me think, I mean, so much is being said right now you know about Gen Z and you know, how they interact with technology. What is it about XR aside from like, Yes, this is a good way to learn. Do you think learning would be more accessible for younger people if it was in These other mediums so like, if it was an AR experience or a VR experience, do you think that would be more appealing to younger people? Like I feel like a total grandma asking?


Asha Mohamud

I think that's a great question. Well, I'm gonna do my best to like answer that, from my perspective, I feel like, when it comes to VR, I feel like it's hard to say whether or not things are accessible, just because of the, you know, the price point of a VR headset. And it's a little bit of a niche world, it's not really, as accessible to the, you know, the global audiences, but even, you know, young people especially, and I think, but when it when it comes to AR, I feel like, I do see, I mean, I guess when it comes to like a definition of AR, but I do think, when it comes to, when it comes to AR I think of the ways that it has involved in, it's been involved in my life, especially with social media. And immediately my brain goes to like Snapchat filters that will change your face and introduce, like cartoons or make you look good. 20 years older, 20 years younger. And all of these, like cool tools. I know, tick tock also has a huge number of like, cool things that you can do when it comes to like your camera, and your, you know, yourself or like, you know, videos you can make using just kind of, and that's what I think of when I think of augmented reality. I don't know if that's accurate. Is that, is


Leslie Early

it something you would consider? Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah.


Asha Mohamud

So I feel like, that has been really, I think, a central part of my generation, I feel like development in the tech world, I feel like it's something that's kind of accepted as mainstream. And just like, ideating, I feel like, when it comes to even zoom, I know that there's been a lot of like, you know, use a filter. And now you can make yourself a talking mouth like, or things like that, or talking potato like, I feel like things like that just add a level of wimzie to learning in general. And I feel like when it comes to learning, the most important thing, from like, what I know this far, and in my journey of like, being an l&d Professional is, it's really about engagement. And really, you know, conveying a message and conveying knowledge or getting people to practice things. And I feel like when it comes to catching the attention of people who are like Gen Z age, like, we have a lot of things fighting for our attention now. Yeah, immediately, I think, like, whatever will help compete with all of the other appealing things is a good thing. And I think can really help engage people, especially with the short attention spans that we have nowadays, especially me like I have the shortest attention span in the world.


Leslie Early

Well, and then that brings me to another topic. Have you brought up tic tock, and I have to say, I'm not listen, I'm a I'm an old lady at this point, like, I've known about tick tock, since back in the day when it was called musically, because my niece was like, on it. So I know, it's been in my periphery for quite a long time. But like, I'm not on it. I don't have Instagram. I don't even have Facebook anymore. Because like, I mean, let's not get into that conversation. But I have seen, you know, there are a lot of people out there who are making a case for like using tick tock as a learning tool. Like, you know, because essentially, those, you know, 32nd 62nd videos, or even shorter, people are out there doing like YouTube style tutorials, but like doing it, it's a 32nd limb. And so essentially, that is micro learning, right? That's the definition of micro learning. So, I mean, do you do you learn things on tick tock? Do you go there like the way that I might go to YouTube and look something up


Asha Mohamud

all the time? I, I feel like tick tock is something I know that you don't use it lightly. But you need to make a tic tock account, like you need to know what's going on over there. Like, there is such a, I know tick tock, there's so much to be said about like the platform itself and like the ways that it will really customize itself, the feed will customize itself to your preferences and things that you like and take information of what you're interacting with the most. But I from my own experience of using Tech Talk. I learned so much from it. And I think that is one of the Appeals is like it's communicating information in such a concise, short way that it's, it really will get across quickly and I think even You know, asking if you ask someone for, for example, like, explain this topic in 60 seconds, I feel like that's a good challenge to really, for them to really cut down on what's important and essential in that specific topic. And I feel like that is always interesting to see what will be communicated. And so I don't, I know that there's so many ways to use Tik Tok. And I know that not all of them are educational, but I haven't heard of Tik Tok being used in that way, as microlearning. But that is such a cool idea. And I feel like that is definitely worth pursuing.


Leslie Early

I have to think about who specifically has been posting about this, like on LinkedIn, I feel like Vanessa Elzie has been posting about this. She's also a former guest. She was previous guests a long time ago, but and then I think also Myra roll down is this oh, cool about this. So yeah, it's out there in the ether that, you know, people are talking about using tick tock in this way. And I think it's the same way I feel about YouTube of like, I understand how like hobbyists, and even like freelancers, or entrepreneurs can use this in that way. But I haven't quite wrapped my head around how like companies or organizations can use it. Right? Because it seems it's like such a public platform. Oh, yeah.


Asha Mohamud

I can, I can definitely give my perspective. And I see that it's, like, a lot of companies use tick tock the game, like just for marketing to gain, you know, eyes on their product, but like to interact with their audience. And I think I don't see it as much being used as like a training tool. And I feel like that is something that is like a definite gap. I know that there still may have put there are so many people who put educational content out but a lot of them like you were saying, are hobbyists, I follow a lot of historical tick talkers, where they talk about weird niches history and they'll just like go through the stories. I feel like a lot of podcasters use tick tock to promote their results or get an idea but like, a lot of podcasters do like kind of sum up some of their episodes and put it on tick tock. And so yeah, that is so cool. I'm definitely gonna follow up on those cool idea. I'm gonna keep an eye out to now now that I'm using, I use Tik Tok a lot for like, entertainment. But now, I've seen this intersection with lnd I think it's helped me have a little bit more of a critical eye.


Leslie Early

That's what I was curious. Like, do you use it for learning? And you said you definitely do. You didn't even hesitate? Like oh, yeah,


Asha Mohamud

cuz I the reason why I immediately was saying yes, is because there are some instructional designers who make content about instructional design on Tik Tok. And so I do follow them. It's a very small amount of people. But I do follow them. And I learned so much about instructional design from these different, you know, tick tock careers, I learned about design in general, just like any topic you could possibly think of. It's there, which I think is one of its driving factors, why it's one of the most popular social media platforms nowadays.


Leslie Early

And because it does, it keeps your attention like


Asha Mohamud

it does, because it's so short. Yeah. It's short for short videos. And it's very, very stimulating. And so yeah, I saw that there's this one quote, that really sticks with me that I learned from one of my classes on media communications, and it was that right now we live in abundance of information, but a poverty of attention. And so there are just so many pieces thrown at us, that it feels like what we need more than anything is not more information, but curation and guidance, when it comes to love duration and how to interact with it.


Leslie Early

Yeah, that quote was like a little bit more eloquent. But I've also heard about, you know, we're living in an attention economy, like, like, everywhere, there's a supply and demand issue happening of like, information and attention, right. But now, this is so not where we were gonna go. It was interesting that I'm just gonna keep us going down this rabbit hole. So I guess if if tick tock is like those, the extreme, you know, micro bites, bite sized information, right, like, so short. Yeah, that's one extreme of the spectrum. But there's also you know, it's really a spectrum because there's podcasts we're on a podcast, my podcasts are like 20 minutes long, but there's some podcasts are like an hour or longer. There's YouTube series that are like people sit there and watch like a live stream. What is that? What is that called? The one where it's a live stream of the D and D? Do you know what I'm talking about? What is that call? Why it's not coming to my mind?


Asha Mohamud

I could not tell you. But I do know you're driving me


Leslie Early

crazy. Okay, well, I'll have to look it up later. But so yeah, but that's like people will sit there and watch a live stream of like four to five hours of people playing a tabletop d&d game. And granted, they're professional voice actors. So I'm sure it's like, it's interesting to them. But like, those are two very opposite extremes. Like, do you find yourself consuming other long form content tip still, again, I'm just putting on my grandma glasses and asking you this as if, like, you don't, I'm sure you do. But like,


Asha Mohamud

I do. And I think that for me, it's like, my niche niche interest, like, you know, when you have just like a one topic or a couple of topics where you can hear and listen to for hours on end. And I feel like everyone has those things for themselves. Like, we're, like, I know, for, for my dad, he could sit and watch the news for like, ever, you know, for me, it's like, you know, I love watching, like, social commentary videos. So like, I'll watch like, hour long social commentary videos about, you know, current events, or, you know, just like


Leslie Early

gaming, like video essays and


Asha Mohamud

video essays. Yes, that's exactly what I mean, I love watching video essays. So they're just be like up, like, just very, very, like about some random pop culture piece, like conspiracy or something like that. But I'm like, Okay, this is I don't know what, where they're gonna go with this, I need to know. And I feel like, they're, everybody has those things. But I think when it comes to like, for me, like sitting through long movies, or like, it's really hard, I think sometimes you have to really step away from, you know, the computer, step away from, like, all screens, and just really try to get your levels of dopamine a little bit down of just, you know, being exposed to all these stimulating things. And I know that for me, I do struggle with like, you know, three addictions, sometimes wedge, like have this desire to just look at my phone, or like, look at my computer screen and just constantly be, you know, exposed to new information. I think that that is also one of the times back way back to our conversation about VR. I feel like this is one of those things that make people kind of stray away from VR, and stray away from even more immersive types of technology because of the because of the possibilities of like addiction to it. And, yeah, that's like a whole separate topic of just, that is a very valid concern, I think, especially with all this screentime that we are experiencing, because of, you know, everyone being indoors while in the pandemic. Yeah, not everybody is indoors. But you know, just have us having a lot more time on our hands. Indoors. Yeah,


Leslie Early

yeah. It's interesting that you mentioned that because this this sort of fear of one more thing, that's, you know, one more instance of screen time, the people, a couple of people that I've talked to who are designing for XR, they, they don't seem to have that fear at all. In fact, they're like, Oh, the one of the big limitations for designing for XR, or particular VR, where you're wearing a headset, is that people don't want to be wearing a headset for, you know, hours and hours on end because it can get so, so really there like, you know, and I don't know, because I haven't done it myself. So I don't know if this is really a true thing. Or if this is just kind of an accepted thing in the industry. But like, you know, 20 minutes is the max of like, designing your lesson so that you're not keeping people in these headsets or expecting them to be in headsets for a really long time. But I wonder if that will change, you know, if headsets get more comfortable in the future? Who knows?


Asha Mohamud

Well, no, yeah. And I know they're becoming like smaller and easier to wear. And I know, even me, like I completely understand what you're saying about VT like virtual reality headset being difficult to wear for prolonged periods of time. I know I get like, sometimes motions like even like wearing it for too long. And so that is a good case for like, why there? I mean, at least with the the templates we have now of why probably it's more difficult to stay in that immersive space for too long.


Leslie Early

Yeah. So wow, we've gone on a real journey here. But no, I just feel like it was very interesting to hear your perspective on all these things because you have grown up in a totally different a different culture, especially as far as learning as far as like using devices is like, I'm the grandma here. That's like we had like modems to dial up to the internet and like, it took three minutes to download a single JPEG file. So, um, I, I do still feel the screen addiction stuff, but I assume it's probably not as strong for me as it is for someone who like, was raised in this, you know?


Asha Mohamud

Yeah, I think for me I grew up a little bit on that climb of like, you know, dial up, but I also got the experience like, I was using laptops when I was in elementary school, I'm pretty sure wow, like, not like too early, but like maybe like sisters or like it was, you know, I grew up with technology. And I think it's a completely new thing. Like, I think that we don't understand the implications of a whole generation growing up with this new world that we live in. That's online. It's, it's so I always think about it like, this isn't one of the things I think about constantly like down the line, what, what things will we discover about how the brain works when it comes to the internet, and social media, and these just really stimulating things. It's even VR, like all of this whole world of technology. It's so it's really groundbreaking, but really new and kind of undiscovered, unexplored. How am I the hustle?


Leslie Early

Yeah. And like we're still, you know, there's still the buzzword of the metaphors out there. But it's kind of what we're discussing, like, the metaverse is not just like, you know, okay, I put in, I put on a VR headset, and I'm, I'm in the metaverse now. It's like no, like, we've already sort of, you know, it's a slippery slope. We're already sort of there with the Snapchat filters, you're talking about. Having all the apps talking to each other and integrated with your home. And like, you know, all the Internet of Things like all of that stuff is the metaverse because all the metaverse really means is like, we are bridging our physical selves with our digital selves. And like, I definitely have a digital self. Like, even if I don't have an avatar, I know who my digital self is, I know the rules of that world, what I can say what I can't say, what's appropriate, what's not appropriate. You know, like, we're already existing in that and and just putting it in VR, that's just taking it one more step. But like, we sort of already there, you know,


Asha Mohamud

yeah, I completely see what you're saying, that is really kind of just one more step beyond what we already have. Because right now, kind of an undefined reality.


Leslie Early

So I guess, you know, we really, if we had to sum up what this was all about is like, we're really just talking about, you know, the changing landscape of information out there and how we consume information. And it was very, is very helpful to hear your perspective on it as a, as a person who's basically new into the workforce in general, but also new to the field of l&d. And also having the perspective of being you know, someone who's kind of grown up in a different information age, then the rest of us in this field. So it's just been super helpful to hear your perspective. So thank you for sharing.


Asha Mohamud

Yeah, no problem. This was such an interesting discussion. I know this completely went off track, but like, this is really, really insightful.


Leslie Early

Well, thank you, again, so much. I really appreciate this discussion. It was super fun. Walking down these rabbit holes with you a little bit. If people wanted to reach out to you and you know, pick your brain about anything. Or continue the conversation. Where could they connect with you?


Asha Mohamud

Yeah, you can always connect with me on LinkedIn, Asha, Muhammad, SHA, Mo, ha, D. I am happy to connect and I think especially like people who are interested in the field I happy to tap or you know, talk.


Leslie Early

Awesome. All right. Well, again, thank you so much. I hope I didn't sound too much like a grandma through this like when I was your age. Okay. Anyway, thank you so much, RJ. Have a good night.


Asha Mohamud

Thank you. You too.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai