“Do you recognise me? Very soon I will be your student, but I will not always sit in your classroom. I will not take out a pencil or open a textbook. You grew up with books, I read from a laptop, an iPad, a smart phone. I use a keyboard more than a pen. I’m a digital native, an “Active Learner” … why carry just a textbook when my iPad connects me to the world? I want to know things all the time, and right away!”
This is a good start to the video, but this next bit is what I liked the most:
“To learn, I look online because the classroom isn’t enough for me, not when I can see faces, hear voices, and chat with people on the other side of the world! My school has to keep up with me, not the other way round! I have more and more choices.”
If this is what students are saying (and most reports tend to point this way) then we, as educators or facilitators to education ought to respond to these students in their world(s) in order to make it relevant, engaging, stimulating, interesting, appropriate, and above all worthwhile?
The video closes with the same opening question, this time the answer is more about what students expect from us …
“Do you recognise me? Very soon I will be changing the world, but I need you. If you’re ready to help me I’ll find you, but it’s your challenge to keep up with me. I’m a digital native, an Active Learner. Listen to me, help me. Together we can create the future.”
I wasn’t aware of all the different labels that have been assigned in the past, but here is a brief overview (for those who are equally in the dark):
The Lost Generation: Those who fought in World War I (born pre-1900)
The Greatest Generation: Veterans of World War II (born 1901-1924)
The Silent Generation: Also known as ‘War Babies’ (born 1925-1945)
The Baby-Boomers: Those born in post-war boom and are generally attributed with(born 1946-1964)
Generation X: (born 1960′s to early 1980′s)
Generation Y: Also known as ‘Millennials’ or the ‘Net Generation’. This label is more about their attitude (born between late 1970′s to early 2000′s)
Generation Z: Also known as the ‘Internet Generation’ (born early-mid 2000′s)
From what I can see the movement from one categorisation of generation to another has been about the enlightenment of the individuals to their surrounding based on different elements of cultural and economic influences. However, I think this only applies to the earlier classifications. Once we see the eruption of technical capabilities, and our reliance on it in our every-day lives, we can see the classifications above become entwined with technical advancement. This is why I opt to use the term ‘Generation T’ for children born post 2008/9 … the ‘Tablet Generation’. As with the classifications above I would also advocate the use of the ‘App Generation’ in reference to the way in which we are now using and talking about technology – everything is about the App, whether it is smart phones, tablet PCs, or cloud computing (Chromebook).
There are loads of examples if you look for them, but the fact is that tablet computers are so intuitive that children of all ages can use them. Robert Thompson explains that a tablet, “with its touch interface … can help children extend their creativity using intuitive applications that allow them to color, trace letters and do simple counting exercise — the possibilities are endless.”
Please note that I am trying to stay away from identifying one tablet over any other (or even operating system) as it is the technology and how we utilise it that interests me, not brand or price (although we cannot ignore the importance that is placed on form over function and preference on iPad or Blackberry PlayBook or HP TouchPad, etc).
While the jury is out on whether tablets will replace traditional computers that use a keyboard and mouse, the children/student of the future “will still need laptops, because they’re great for doing school work and just try passing a degree without one, the same goes for many jobs” (Tablets: A backseat for creativity). This is, of course, based on the assumption that the education system will not change and we will still instruct and assess in the way we do now, which we have been doing for many decades before. But this too is changing, just look at the way in which recent Web 2.0 systems (blog, wiki, podcast, etc) have been introduced to the learning environment, and the way the students have engaged with it. If this continues then the historical framework of teach/assess will also change.
Are we ready to embrace the changes? I think we are; there are already schools around the world providing tablets for each child, game consoles are used for game-based learning, etc. While these could be viewed in isolation, don’t forget that 25/30 years ago there were only a very few schools that had a room full of computers for students to use, this is now viewed as the norm, in fact it is essential equipment.
So, how long will Generation T last? I don’t know, but I’m sure the developers at the big tech firms have already started planning for the next big ‘thing’ – but will it be a game-changer like the advert of smartphones and tablets? I welcome your input and ask you to leave a comment or thought below.
Facebook and other ‘friend-based’ social network tools are the preferred domain of choice for the discerning online teen, and Twitter has already been identified as having an audience with a Twitter average age in the thirties (whereas Facebook is most definitely a teen-orientated network; Facebook average age in the upper teens).
So, as Derek asks;
“If Gen Y (Generation Y/Millenials) really doesn’t give a Twit about Twitter, should educators be trying to integrate it into the curriculum?”
While Derek doesn’t go into any detail about whether we should be trying to integrate it or not, he does provide some good links to other online resources, urging us to read and make up our own minds.
So, here’s my two-penny’s worth … yes, we should make the effort. If we make the effort now, with Twitter, then we are in a position to start to understand what is happening with the Internet, and starting to modify the way we think and how we think we can incorporate new technologies and ideas into our teaching.
If we can do this with Twitter, or SlideShare, or games, or Diigo, or Delicious, or anything, then we are better placed to meet the next fad or craze head-on. We, as we considered the ‘older’ generation, will be capable of being proactive with changes (instead of reactive) and this can only benefit the learning environment we set for the students.
We are the ones who set the goals for the learning, but it is the students who set the expectations for their learning, which we must meet. If we can’t do it now, then we have little hope of bridging the divide next year, or the year after, when it will be even wider.
“British universities will lose their leading international standing unless they become much more radical in their use of new technology” (to quote Steve).
I hadn’t thought it was that bad, but perhaps it is. I’ll not bleat on about the report, I’ll let you read it for yourself, but the biggest issue that it raises for me (and perhaps you too) is simply … dont’ blame the University, or even the students, if you can’t get the staff engaged!
I’ve written here before about getting tutors/educators engaged in using Web 2.0 tools and techniques, but the reason they don’t are not always easy to define;
Willing: Are they willing to try something new?
Able: They may be willing, but are they able to try it?
Time: Irrespective of ability or willingness, do they have the time to sit and learn something new … even if you can demonstrate that it will save them time in the long run?
Blinkered: Are they just burying their heads in the sand hoping you’ll go away and bother someone else instead?
Blind: Are they just point-blank ignoring you.
Not everyone will fit so easily in the stereotypes above; I know of one example where the tutor was enthusiastic about trying something new, didn’t have the time to work it out until the students requested discussion boards and a wiki to support their face-to-face seminars.
Only time will tell and, if the JISC report is to be believed, time is running out. The report says:
“Through their institutional capital, universities can use technology to offer more flexible provision and open more equal routes to higher education and learning … this will take strategic leadership from within.”
and Steve says;
“… online and social media could help universities meet these demands by reaching a greater number of students and improving the quality of research and teaching. Online and DIY learning can create ‘edgeless universities’ where information, skills and research are accessible far beyond the campus walls.”
Michelle brings the research of Gary Small, a Neuroscientist from the good ‘ol US-of-A that proposes the thoughts that we are undergoing an evolutionary change. In this New World there will be winner and losers: the winners will be the technical literate, the losers the ones who resists or cannot adapt.
Thankfully, it is not a case of the geeks taking over. Gary says:
“Technology can accelerate learning and boost creativity. But it also allows people to isolate themselves and ‘live’ online. But succeeding in the new ‘digital’ era will require a mix of traditional and technological social skills.”
From my view point I think I’m well suited to the New World as I’m learning the technology from a background in the real world. But what of the new generations; the Generation Y and Generation Z? They’ve not had to learn the ‘real world’ but have been launched head-first in to the new ‘tech world’ without the basic concepts and understanding of how to build and work with a real friendship, face-to-face.
Will this matter? Hell yes, How can you survive if you are incapable of interacting in real-time with real people? You must be able to know the difference between a real persona and the (often) fake virtual one. Gary concludes by saying that “tomorrow’s winners need to be comfortable in two worlds”.
According to a recent addition to Wikipedia (I know, I should know better than to read or even trust it) we are about to see the fruits of our labour undone by ‘Generation Z’.
This new sensation is defined as the “generation that will follow the Millennials” and “the Silent Generation”, but also has been called;
‘Generation V’ (for virtual),
‘Generation C’ (for community or content),
‘Internet Generation’, and
Generation Z are very young, yet very active consumers, born after 1995, they are very connected (from being born into a world of digitaltechnology). The have influence over their parent’s purchasing decisions, and are at ease with single-parent families or same-sex partnerships. They are comfortable with equality at home and in the workplace.
It is important to note that it is accepted that all generations are born into the most advanced technological periods in relation to their time, but ‘Generation Z’ are the latest addition (or edition) to the list.
Needless to say, the oldest individuals are only know entering their teen years, but they are already confident (sometimes aggressive) consumers who can and will break a brand, celebrity, etc if it (or they) no longer conform to what they believe or perceive as important to their daily life.
Generation Z, according to Virginia Matthews, are already considered to be “least physically active” and “content to travel our world virtually” group of individuals we have ever seen. But this will lead to all sorts of other issues; what employers save on business travel, they will no doubt spend on corporate gym membership and health insurance as the youth of today are already the most inactive and obese that have ever been.
Generation Z will;
be an essentially transient workforce; they will move to where the work is, rather than expect to find employment in their home town,
be relentlessly tested from an early age, they will see constant appraisal and feedback as the norm, not the exception,
have more degrees, certificates and diplomas than any generation in history, but will need encouragement to notch up meaningful work experience,
know sponsorship through their schools and clubs, by possible future employers, in a bid to secure young talent early on,
have high salaries that will be less crucial; mortgages, bank loans and even private car ownership is consigned to the history books,
live primarily via the web and for those who find work less than satisfying, a virtual or second life will become their comfort blanket,
be loyal to employers; engagement at work will become an urgent priority as young workers switch jobs and locations more often,
have had regular access to technology as children, but limited physical freedom means they will grow up fast, and
use their political power via their online identities, not the ballot box.
“As Generation Y complete their secondary education and ease into further study and the workforce”, a point highlighted by the Generation Zwebsite, “the Generation Z’s will begin to move in. Generation Z’s will continue to be the dominant generation in high schools into the 2020’s. For tertiary and technical educators the Z’s will be the dominant generation until the 2030’s.”
From this we can deduce that the future of learning, and eLearning, depends on understanding and engaging with these learners.
Continuing from the first part in the series of entries on the differences between ‘Generation X’ and ‘Generation Y’.
I deal with Generation Y in a learning and educational environment. But I am well aware that I am working with them (sometimes against them) to get them into some kind of state of mind to enter the workplace so they have the skills and knowledge and abilities to fit into the (hopefully) modern office.
According to Jordan Kaplan “‘Generation Y’ is much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today’s workforce,” He continues by saying ” … they’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how to shut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager (Generation X) who says, ‘Do it and do it now.’ ”
“Some conflict is inevitable. More than 60% of employers say they are experiencing tension between employees from different generations, … more than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers’ abilities … and nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers.”
There is an advantage, some say, to being part of ’Generation Y’ … they are computer literate, hungry for knowledge and to find easier/better/quicker ways to do the same thing, and the less-informed people (‘Generation X’ers?) are more likely to go to them for help.
It’s not just about being independent; it’s about being in charge of themselves (and others), it’s about being in control (of themselves and others) … it’s about not having to answer to someone (especially someone else).
There is, however, a disadvantage. Being young and very well informed & capable means that ‘Generation Y’ is not always welcome. For more senior or long-serving individuals, having to report to someone younger and less experienced is not something that they are comfortable with. We all know this shouldn’t be an issue, but we live in the real world and we know it is an issue.
Michelle Oftedahl, writing in the American Journal, shares her views that as a member of ‘Generation Y’ she is finding it increasingly difficult to ‘relate’ to her colleagues, those who are definitely ensconced in the ‘Generation X’ mentality. She is realistic, if a little impatient, in the impact the change is bringing to the modern workplace, saying … “It’s when you add in resistance to change or an attitude of superiority that the mixture gets a little sour. If we can learn to understand and respect the Gen X’ers patterns, and they ours, maybe the workplace would mean profit for our efforts and not punishment. Change will undoubtedly happen in time, but anything we can do to smooth the road on the way there will benefit all involved”
Part 3 to the series will come shortly … thanks, and see you there.