I learned a new word today – Millennials. In essence it describes people born since 1982 and who are described by the following indicators (as taken from Oblinger’s article in Educause):
- gravitate to group activity
- feel close to their parents
- spend time on homework – not TV
- fascinated by new technologies
I can’t say that my experience with teenagers would entirely support their descriptors. Regardless, the summary of the article is that these Millennials “prefer teamwork, experiential activities, structure, and the use of technology”. The article then extends how the characterisitics of these “new” students has impacted post secondary education. For example, online experiences, connectivity, competitiveness between universities, and a large increase in customer service.
In the end, I’m struck with the image that what “new” students, or Millennials, really want is to be meaningfully engaged in learning. Universities are being forced to become more learner centered in order to remain viable. But, what about in a secondary environment where competition for tuition is not largely and issue? I have seen some very exciting things happening in my school division that address some of the needs of “new” students. However, I think we can still go a long way to engaging our youth in more meaningful ways. Where can we start? One place is to to continue trying to understand these “new” students and try to adapt our schools to more closely meet their needs. What exactly does this look like? In fact, this is one of the reasons I have started a blog. To start developing, testing, and reflecting on this issue. If anyone out there has any good starting points – please let me know!