What Are The Differences In Attitudes Between Online Vs Traditional Learning

Many people have just become aware of the fact that teaching online is growing in popularity and also that teaching in a traditional school environment is on the decline. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for both forms of learning, however.

This week I spoke to the Kansas Schools Retirement System in Manhattan, Kan., who are looking to decrease the need for retirees to continue working into retirement and are currently looking to hire a full-time superintendent. The challenge that state faces, she said, is building relationships with rural Kansas employers, many of whom have their employees in rural areas.

I asked her what they are currently doing to recognize different learning styles and, perhaps most importantly, to be aware of the difference in the way people learn.

At last count, she said that the state has 15 different learning styles they monitor in their retirees, and she noted that Kansas retirement programs have a paid retirement consultant who does psychometric research on how different types of retirees (cognitive, non-cognitive, psychological, and/or adjustment) cope, but that most people tend to work it out for themselves.

Kansas, she noted, has a large population of retirees, especially in the rural areas, and some of their employment needs are more geared toward using this to their advantage. While it is true that most people are forced to be independent once they retire, this can happen faster in rural Kansas than in cities, so many have the desire to continue working after they retire, she said.

Wyoming Retirement Works

In Wyoming, another state facing many of the same challenges as Kansas, one area that they have focused on is making sure that it’s possible for retirees to continue working, but doing so at a more varied pace. Another part of this plan is to increase the visibility of the retirement system from which their retirees receive benefits, explained Public Savings Chief Investment Officer, Eric Long, and he noted that programs throughout the state are working to educate their community members on the important role that the retirement system plays in their area.

Wyoming, too, had a lot of retirees that returned for more personal reasons than their primary jobs, and this has resulted in the challenges that it faces. “A lot of retirees in Wyoming work even when they’re older and may even continue to work until their 80s,” said Long. “Because of that, we’re looking to take the learnings from our experience and help our partner organizations in Wyoming to plan for retirees’ needs and their retirements, but more importantly to celebrate retirees at the same time.”

Another part of the plan is to connect all the retirees and/or retired spouses to the local nonprofit community, Long noted, and they have the position of caregiver ambassador to help work with their network.

For retirement plans not directly tied to cash, like those run by state governments, it can be challenging to do a lot of this planning or even raise awareness about people who might benefit from it, said Long.

Turning the Issues

The biggest challenge in how public retirement plans are addressing the difficulties of working with retiring populations that differ from their target populations is lack of acknowledgement of the differences, and more importantly, the willingness to go after the new pool of retirees in the workforce.

One thing that is also common to all plans is to support peer support groups for retirees, but there is also good reason to recognize that while retirees can certainly provide good information to those they live with about their lives, it’s also possible that they lack some of the skills needed to help others navigate their new lives.

Overall, Long said, that while it is far too early to see any statistically significant change in the patterns that states are seeing in their retiree populations, there is no question that states need to realize that their current retirement security strategies need to adapt to new retirement environments and new learning styles.

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