“When my son, James, was doing homework for school, he would have five or six windows open on his computer, instant messenger was flashing continuously, his cell phone was constantly ringing, and he was downloading music and watching the TV over his shoulder. I don’t know if he was doing any homework, but he was running an empire as far as I could see, so I didn’t really care.” Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
There is a new generation out there and they learn differently to the way we used to. In actual fact they think differently, communicate differently, talk differently and they don’t laugh, they LOL.
If we are to educate this new generation of learners it is essential that we understand what makes them tick and unless we keep up with their learning needs our education systems and traditional learning approaches will fail them.
So who exactly are they?
General consensus is that this generation known as the “Digital Natives” or “Millennials” were born in the early nineties and are currently the under 20’s. This is a generation that has never known a life without the internet, mobile phones or high definition gaming.
So what exactly makes this generation unique?
Whilst we may think they have short attention spans, are absorbed in their technology and only write in 140 characters or less, they are superb multi-taskers, have generally higher IQ’s and have come to understand information through new media, rather than text books.
How do we meet their learning needs?
The answer is simple, we need to teach on the mediums and platforms that they are familiar with and integrate learning materials to suit the way they absorb information. This can be achieved through a variety of virtual learning platforms which integrate the web, technology, mobile phones, gaming and social networks to provide multifaceted and stimulating learning environments.