It’s Y2K!...In Higher Education?
It’s the calm before the generational storm and while there may be a few that slipped through the threshold early, a major rush of Y2K born high school seniors will be applying to colleges and universities this fall (shocking, I know). This marks a generational milestone to hit quads all across the world, but raises a significant challenge to professors--how do you teach a generation raised during the technological revolution?
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Here are some facts that might surprise you about the incoming Class of 2022:
Fact 1: Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration (iGens) are expert "multitaskers", and being used to consistent amounts of stimuli has them constantly occupied. Compared to the average of three screens utilized by Millennials, iGens use up to five screens at a time (i.e. desktop, laptop, TV, smartphone, and tablet).
Fact 2: With the minority and biracial demographic on the rise, iGens are a culturally diverse group more than any other generation before. The rise of cultural diversity and social reform has greatly shaped attitudes within this generation, with the expectancy of even more social change to come.
Fact 3: iGens are a very “big picture” group. The average person sees about 10,000 advertisements a day, but the ones that stand out are those with big pictures and few words. They embrace negative space and “less is more”.
Fact 4: iGens pride themselves on being self-taught through research done through search engines. 33% watch lessons online, 20% read textbooks on tablets, and 32% work with classmates online (Giselle Abramovich, CMO).
Fact 5: The average teenager has an attention span for about eight seconds. Engagement is everything.
Any of these stand out? It's no secret that this is an undeniably interesting group, but what does this mean for professors? Perhaps the straightforward solution would be to keep the classroom exclusively digital, converting to eBooks, and immersing students in educational technology. While this is forward thinking it may not be the best solution. While it is true that many in this generation are born into a world of technology, iGens tend to lend their expertise to Temple Run or Candy Crush; educational digital platforms and tech tools fall on the back burner and are not picked up as quickly.
The consensus: engagement through scaffolding. When using the scaffolding teaching method, instructors promote problem-solving with guided support, allowing students to resolve problems in increments, and having the individuality to take over the task at hand. This method also reinforces communication skills and engagement, which many in this incoming class lack and need.
The material may be complex but the teaching style doesn’t have to be. Technology in the classroom should certainly be implemented, with the understanding that iGens are at different levels with educational tech just like professors; some may only know a world of Smart Boards and eBooks while others have had a mixed experience. There is no right or wrong teaching method but for a "first of its kind" group like this, keeping it active in the classroom is bound for excellent results.
For more information about iGens, check out these articles below: