Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Characteristics of Millenials


Tony Bates in It's all about Millenials - or is it? explores the whole issue of we need to use technology because they are. He is right that we shouldn't accept this notion knowing all the facts and the lack of real, hard evidence for the net generation concept is worrying. I've never been an advocate of the idea that Millenials (this is first time I am hearing this particular word) are somehow wired differently. Anyone who’s experiences and uses Web 2.0 should be considered a Millenial, whatever their age.

Also, it’s useful to see these characteristics of the net generation by Oblinger and Oblinger (2005a):

  • digitally literate in the sense of being comfortable and familiar with digital technology
  • connected to friends and the world through technology
  • ‘immediacy’: rapid multi-tasking, fast response to communications - experiential: they prefer to learn by doing rather than being told
  • highly social: ‘they gravitate toward activities that promote and reinforce social interaction’
  • group work: they prefer to work and play in groups or teams
  • a preference for structure rather than ambiguity
  • engagement and interaction: an orientation towards action and inductive reasoning rather than reflection
  • a preference for visual (i.e. graphics, video) and kinesthetic learning rather than learning through text
  • active engagement in issues that matter to millennials

It’s worth noting that currently in Higher Education this is not the case for many. Certainly for my institution, The Institute of Education, which has a lot of mature and overseas students, it is common not to fit this profile. However, I would still advocate a strategy would has the above points in mind when it comes to learning design. This is because it’s up to any teacher/lecturer to design the best learning experience possible. If you believe the above is better than the normal didactic, transmissive model then it’s worth pursuing even if the class is out of their comfort zone initially. Just because you fulfil their expectations and experiences by doing “the norm”, it doesn’t make it right.

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