“A new study of U.S. college students asked them what they think education will look like in the years to come. What they had to say could affect your association’s meetings and education strategy when it comes to attracting these next-generation attendees.”
The Associates Now article by Sam Whitehorne is a good insight into what Generation Y / Millennial students, not educators, think the future of education should be. Based on research from Millennial Branding called The Future of Education the study shows how students who have grown up with the Internet and online ‘personas’ perceive education now and in the future.
Highlights of the report include:
A quarter of students feel unprepared for the working world and almost two thirds of students believe that it’s both their college’s and their own responsibility to be prepared for the working world. Continue reading →
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.
and was kindly asked by Pauline Randall of Florizel Media to write up a reflective account of the presentation and what kind of impact it had on the students. You can read my full account on Pauline’s website:
I hope Pauline doesn’t mind but here is a snippet for you to read, but please read the full reflection using the link above.
“What I was not prepared for, when I thought about presenting this, was the students were completely unaware that their activity online could have any bearing on their employability. It was clear from the gasps and shocked faces when I introduced the examples of people losing their jobs because of their online activity that I had hit my mark; I was changing their perception of not only social media and social networks, but also of how they are going to use them.”
I also had the event recorded by the Bournemouth University installation of the Echo360 lecture capture system. Here it is;
Click to view recording of the “Social Media and Social Network” Presentation
It was only after I’d finished that I’d remembered I hadn’t said the “Farmville / I Quit” story turned out to be a hoax, but I’ll remember next time!
Links and YouTube videos played in the lecture are:
I’ve been lucky enough so far this term to be involved with two sets of students, both under-graduate first years (one unit called ‘Professional Studies’ even), and with both sets I have been surprised and slightly worried about the level of understanding they have about their use of Social Media, and how the little things can make a difference.
What surprised me, from a couple of informal questions to a few vocal and enthusiastic Facebook users, is that they have never considered what is viewable online, their ‘digital foot print’.
So, I asked around about what we do for the students to alert them to the risks, and how this could potentially affect their future employment prospects. I had some good answers but the one that made me groan was simply “why don’t you talk to them about it?” Me and my big mouth!
Update, 17 November 2010: I’ve been researching the United Airlines ‘breaks guitars’ example I use in the presentation above and have found some interesting figures. Not only has the original YouTube video been viewed/accessed over 9.5 million times since it was loaded last year, but it is reportedly the cause of a 10% drop in share price for United airlines, costing shareholders a whopping $180 million!
I took the class list (190+ students) and randomly searched for 10 students. I found 6 of them in Facebook easily and the other 4 had names that matched to 300+ other Facebook users, so I didn’t search for them. I used my personal Facebook account, which is not connected to my work or work colleagues in any way. This is important as I wanted to be sure there was no way I could have access through a friend of mine or theirs … this is the kind of set-up a future employer would have when searching.
What I found reaffirmed my belief that they don’t understand what they do, or how the privacy settings worked. I can say that all users had photos they’d uploaded that depicted some very good nights out, drunken behaviour, in one case smoking possibly dubious material, lots of holiday and beach pictures, and also photos they’d been tagged in by friends, so content they had had nothing to do with, but it appeared on their profile!
Naturally when I present this I can’t show them the exact photos or say who I searched (I do not have the list of names saved anywhere!) but I hope this will at least raise the awareness of their online activity and, if nothing else, these students think about their use of Social Media, their privacy settings, as well as the kind of people they befriend online.
It is also very difficult to talk about Social Media or Social Networks without concentrating on Facebook; it seems that’s all they’re interested in, and the majority of news stories I researched all concentrated on it too.
Have you got, or had, a Social Media (horror) story or have you taken a similar approach with your students? Please leave all comments below.
“At the very least, the distinction is quickly growing irrelevant. Unfortunately, the idea is still uncritically accepted even in some journal articles, and perhaps used as an excuse or crutch too often for poor or ineffective teaching practices. The result may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but for teachers, not students.”
“The rapid pace of change is undeniable, and it is likely that generations growing up amidst such change will be amazingly adaptable. Thus, there is no reason to think that they cannot adapt to an immigrant’s way of teaching, as long as it is good teaching. Good teaching engages learners’ interests.”
“When asked how they decide to visit a Web site, the most important factor mentioned by the students was “being able to identify easily the sources of information on the site”. However, “knowing who owns the Web site” and “knowing what business and organizations financially support the site” were less important to students. When asked how they determine the credibility of the information, the least common actions were “checking if contact information is provided on the Web site” and “checking the qualifications or credentials of the author.” Checking the “about us” section the Web site was also something that students did either rarely or on average.”
“They may have been dubbed the “Internet generation,” but young people are more interested in their real-world friends than Facebook. New research shows that the majority of children and teenagers are not the Web-savvy digital natives of legend. In fact, many of them don’t even know how to google properly.”
This first one highlights, for those slightly confused about what exactly is Web 2.0, that we’re no longer in a broadcast medium where the big corporations tell us what is going on but rather that each of us is capable of finding out from our network (be they people or tools like Twitter or Facebook) about the world around us.
“Social Media Participation Chart” by Oversocialized
This next one is another really good and simple way of showing the uninitiated about, in my mind, how Generation Y or the Millennials think about the digital world they inhabit. If, like me, you are not from the Gen-Y era (but either want to be or work with them) then this could help you understand their world – this is especially important for those of us who work in education, as this is what they want and expect from us, so we have to deliver on it .. yes?
Digital Mindsets by David Armano
Again, this is another very good and graphic way to produce the same information – in-roads and barriers to the network and information, nicely laid out like a city plan.
Last year I left my 4gb USB stick in the socket of a PC that was sat on the floor (I know, silly me, but I was in the middle of a presentation). As I walked past I clipped the stick and bent the ‘sticky-out’ bit right back … damn!
The case broke and my heart sank – I use that for work and personal files to transport them between work and home (and friends, etc). I got home and was about to drop it in the bin when I thought I’d plug it in and see if it still worked. It did!
I taped the case back up, bent it straight again, and have been using it regularly since then. Until last week when something broke. And that was that (I’d expected it for a while so I’ve been using my iPod and iPhone for data back-up of the really important stuff).
So, instead of buying another I looked at online storage solutions and came across Dropbox. The free account gives you 2gb of online, secure storage (which you can get an additional 250mb for if you follow the simple steps during install and setup).
So now I have an online storage solution, available on work and home PCs, and on the iPhone (although I really only use this option to review files, other mobile devices are coming soon), and I can easily share and store files or folders with colleagues, friends, etc.
Here is a presentation I’ve put together on how to install and use it.