Millenial Learners : Teaching More Relevant To Pupils

1441 words - 6 pages

Modern educators enter through the doors of their classrooms into a portal of the past. Many modern classrooms look anything but modern. Institutional walls, rigid desks, tiled floors, and the ever-present chalkboards greet the modern student as they greeted his or her parents, grandparents, and perhaps great-grandparents. However, our students are not the same as their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents--they are Generation Y, more commonly referred to as Millennial Learners. These students differ significantly from Gen X-ers represented in the new ranks of educators and Baby Boomers who comprise the older generation of educators (Moorman & Horton, 2007). Millennial Learners are "digital natives", that is they have always been plugged in. They have been raised with Internet access, cell phones, and easily-accessed information. Their lives are vastly different from what our forefathers of education envisioned when many common academic practices were established hundreds of years ago and yet, Millennial Learners continue in the hallowed tradition of academia. Is it any wonder, then, when students feel disconnected and disenfranchised by the educational institutions pitted against them? What is our responsibility as educators of these Millennial Learners? What can we do to reverse the flow of the portal and project our classrooms into the future, rather than relegating them to the past? How do we get educational "buy-in" from our Millennial Learners? The good news is, there are many ways to achieve these goals and much research to support such endeavors.
Why We Need To Care
Millennial Learners are in a constantly wired state. Research has shown this to be true of affluent Gen Y-ers and low-income Gen Y-ers (Greenhow, Walker, & Kim, 2009-10). They are adept multi-taskers, proficient communicators, and very self-sufficient in learning (when they want to be). According to Libby Morris, the Millennial Generation is growing up in a "fully digital" world; they are the most connected generation in history; and they are also the most medicated generation (2006). There is perhaps a connection between the youth-of-today's hyperconnectivity and their need to be medicated. With the advancement of technology can come an increase in isolation and an inability to process all of the information available to them. This is perhaps evidenced in the dramatic increase of bullying in schools. Bullying is no longer only a vice found on the playground, but now is ever-present with social media giving way to the new buzz term "cyber-bullying". Gen X-ers did not as much access to the cyber world to unfurl their bullying; Gen Y-ers are fully capable of such tactics. What a lot of these learners lack is a real understanding of how to properly and responsibly use the resources they have always had access to. This applies beyond the boom of cyber-bullying. Students are increasingly "blurring the line between content and creator" (Moorman &...

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