I am going to cover 10 basic behaviors of millennials and some technology recommendations & tips that can help you to better understand millennials and how they use technology.
Born between: 1980/1985-1995/2000Most Millennials in college right now were born between: 1987-1991AKA: Digital Native, Gen-Y, Net-Geners, PC Generation, Echo Boomers, C-Generation2nd in size to Baby Boomers
They have grown up with a huge array of choices and they believe that such abundance is their birthright. They desire ULTIMATE consumer control: what they want, how and when they want it.What does this mean for Academia? Millennials expect significantly increased learning options and far more education services from their colleges and universities. They are MOST unhappy with limited choice, such as only one professor teaching a particular required course
How do you expand choice & selection?First, with our launch of ULEARN students have the choiceof ONLINE, Hybrid, or Face to Face with online component. This is appealing because it presents a wide variety of service and learning style choices. And according to a Sloan study in 2008 titled “Staying the Course, Online Education in the United States” there is has been an almost 13% increase in the number of students taking online courses. Second, Try out Second Life! Second Life is an online virtual world and for a fee, Universities can rent or buy virtual island and construct virtual classrooms, buildings, etc… However, you can utilize free classroom space on Islands such as EduIsland or InfoIsland.Kent State University has created a Second Life Campus where online courses, field trips and “live” online performances are provided.Hilary Mason created Casablanca island in Second Life as a way for Entrepreneurs and School of Technology students could team up together to create a virtual business in Second Life where they create, market and sell a virtual product. Great experiential learning of starting a business with zero barriers to entry.Third, try integrating cutting technology in the classroom. Kelley School of Business @ Indiana University is utilizing tablet PCS in the classroom. Some uses of the Tablet PC are assigning a business case study in class and live demo’ing a student’s hand drawn solution by throwing it up on big projector screen” The BIG POINT here is to utilize technology to offer students a wider variety of choices when it comes to educational services and learning styles in the classroom
They never read directionsLove to learn by doing, by interactingMultiplayer gaming, computer simulations and social networks are just a FEW of their favorite digital environments BECAUSE there is little penalty for trial and error learning. They find lectures boring and are more engaged with active learning such as games, case studies, hands-on experiences and simulations that can HOLD their INTEREST
Here are a few examples of in class and out of class technology applications and hardware that enable experiential learning. Davidson University offers Virtual Chemistry experiments offered on the web. Easy to use technology with no “directions” needed. No penalty for errors and allows for multiple attempts to get it right without blowing up the science lab.TechnologyClickers have become very popularin the classroom. Clickers allow students to answer questions in a competitive game style atmosphere and the results are live-viewable to the entire classroom anonymously. The approach is also penalty-free, students feel comfortable “answering” questions knowing that they won’t look stupid in front of the rest of their peers and it also fosters that gaming quality of learning.
Asdigital natives, they expect digital services to be integrated seamlessly with everything in their campus lives in order to maximize flexibility. Digital services are not REPLACEMENT of face-to-face services, which are traditionally more desirable and more highly-valued to Millennials, but rather a complementary service that works in tandem with face-to-face services seamlessly.
How do you offer flexibility & convenience?Once again, Onlinelearning environments such as ULEARN provide students with the flexibility to participate in the virtual class whenever they want, if they are late-owls or morning-birds.Also, Try offering virtual office hours rather than face to face -> gives the student the option to contact the professor based on need or moment of urgency and satisfies needs of students who commute or who may be too shy or scared to ask a question or for help face to face. Also, JWU has a growing continuing education and graduate school student base, and these student’s require faculty consultation outside of the normal 9-5 day. Lastly, international or learning disabled students who may not be comfortable taking with you face-to-face can still benefit from faculty communication by participating in virtual office hours.Stanford University, as of May 13th 2009, is experimenting with open office hours on facebook. Faculty share thoughts and respond to questions using video clips.If you have or will have a course management system or if are or are planning to use a wiki or a blog to deliver course information, you can embed a chat widget, Meebo, for virtual office hours via instant message. Meebo.com is free, easy to use, and you can embed chat widgets, seen here on our Library site, on any website where you have the ability to embed objects. Meebo’s IM widget is anonymous, so unless the student self-identities, you have no idea who is asking the question. This appeals to millennials who prefer to ask questions digitally and anonymously. Faculty who are using Meebo or Facebook generally set virtual office hours when they are online for a set period of time per day or week. It gives students the opportunity to meet with their professor in an private setting without having to come to campus.
Millennials expect classrooms to offer as much personalization as possible. They are used to signing into a website, like Amazon, and being given highly personalized and customized service in an online environment.In a classroom, it isn’t always possible to offer customized services to all of your students BUT if you offer a variety of technological methods that students can choose based upon their needs, this is as close to customized service as you can get.
Two ways to approach student personalization with technology, using free Web 2.0 toolsAs an Assignment:In my classroom, for FIT1000, students create a digital portfolio showcasing their knowledge and expertise in a field they wish to pursue upon graduation using a free web blogging application called Blogger, which is a free Google product. They can customize their e-portfolio any way they want and they can choose any career or field that they are interested in. This has been a VERY successful assignment and in the Fall Trimester a student was promoted at his job because of this assignment and in the Winter Trimester, another student voluntarily posted his e-portfolio on Craig’s List and received 2 job offers. We work on this project IN class (face-to-face) and they work on it on their own (flexible and convenient)Create a class wiki for students to upload their assignments and work on projects together as a class. A wiki is a great tool if the class creates projects and if other students within the class would benefit from viewing those projects. For example, Prof. Moutahir has a class wiki for his entrepreneurship class where, I believe, the students have to conduct macro/micro level demographic research for a particular industry. Groups within the class upload their project sections through-out the trimester making the viewable to others in the class. This is a great example where students can learn from each other, peer to peer learning, and keep student work as transparent as possible.As supplemental to in-class work:1. Create a class blog where students can contribute to a discussion thread at their own discretion, give them opportunity to create their OWN discussion thread. This integrates seamlessly with class-sessions.2. Prof. Samel in Food Service Management uses a blog to communicate information to students, as shown here JWU Student Advising. 3. Also, Ulearn has a discussion thread component where students can respond to and create their own discussion threads. Also, you can use Web 2.0 tools to make your lives much much easier!Use a Wiki to store departmental resources that require collaboration or use Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which is an online version of Microsoft Office where you can create spreadsheets, presentations, and documents ONLINE and multiple users, by your invitation, can edit those files simultaneously to keep version control problems at a minimum. Here is an example of how using Google Docs & Spreadsheets greatly reduces version control issues. Say, for example, you create a document that requires multiple people to collaborate on it. Rather than emailing those people the document as an attachment and having to deal with multiple versions of that same document when they email you back, upload the document to Google Docs & Spreadsheets where you can email an invitation to collaborators to sign online and add to or edit the document. So instead of dealing with multiple copies of the same document, you have 1 online secure copy of the document, and people sign in to edit that 1 document.
A Millennials worst nightmare is waiting. Whether its waiting in line at starbucks, waiting for an email response back from their professor, or waiting for Facebook to load their mobile pictures.Their desire for speed and efficiency CAN NOT BE OVERSTATEDSome call it instant gratification, I prefer to think of it as speedy satisfaction and permeates ALL OF THEIR SERVICE EXPECTATIONSAn example of this is that if a student writes an email to a professor and doesn’t get a response quickly, they will write SEVERAL more emails, all within a short period of time, each email becoming more and more insistent.
Well, should professors provide instant access? And how?Well there are a couple of things one could do:1. Millennials like to know exactly where they stand in a class at any given time. Well, ULEARN provides 24/7 access to course progress. Students can receive live up to date status reports via the online gradebook. Example here on the screen, top right, of a Ulearn gradebook.2. Text Messaging:Students like to be able to use technology that they are extremely comfortable with and one that provides them almost instant access, no waiting, and one of those technologies is text-messaging. According to CellSigns, there are over 75 billion text-messages sent each month WORLD-Wide. That is a 250% increase each year since 2006.Of course, it is up to the discretion of the professor to give out his/her cell phone number for text-messaging purposes and I have met faculty who have done it in their classes with great success and I have met others who have had difficulty with it. It would depend upon that faculty member’s comfort level.There are a several Universities that have implemented some form of text-messaging communication with students with success: a. In an Educause article, researchers at East Carolina University participated in a text message pilot project to enhance communication between faculty and students. According to the study done in 2007, over 90% of students had cell phones with 50% using text-messaging. This study aimed to adapt instructional pedagogy to make it more compatible with the mobile lifestyle of today's students. The goal of this research was to evaluate and provide suggestions on how to incorporate SMS text messaging so that both professors and students could maintain a social presence within a learning community. Overall the project was very successful.b. Bryant University Library has implemented Text-a-Librarian whereby students can text a question to a librarian and get an immediate response. The response has been overwhelming.c. Creighton University has implemented admissions texting where students can receive opt to receive a text message about whether they were admitted or not to the university.3. Another form of instant communication is Twitter. Has anyone here heard of Twitter?, it has become immensely popular has of late. Twitter is a micro-blog, where users can post updates based upon “What they are doing”. People become followers of your Twitter account and they can follow what you are doing, ask you questions which are posted on your twitter page and send private messages. a. Pacific University uses Twitter to communicate events with students.
And RISD President, John Maeda has created a Twitter account and there is a live feed of his twitter account on the RISD homepage. He has 7,800 followers.Faculty could try creating a Twitter account an another means of communicating instantly with students.
As previously stated, Millennials are impatient and don’t like to waste time on only doing one task at a time. So they will write email, update their status on Facebook, work on that Research paper all while downloading songs from iTunes and sending/receiving text-messagesBottom-line, they want to use their time more efficiently. AND THINK THAT THEY EXCEL AT MULTITASKINGAs an Example, Sweeny’s research has shown that Millennials will almost NEVER text-message someone UNLESS they are already doing some other task simultaneously. Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen a huge increase in automobile accidents and fatalities amongst the millennial generation where text-messaging was the culprit.
How do you provide resources for students who multi-task? If they are already going to do 10million things while writing that research paper, why not provide educational resources that satisfy that Millennial urge to multi-task.Try Video Lectures!A simple webcam, attached to your instructional computer and aimed at you, and open source video capturing software like CamStudio, gives you the opportunity to record and archive your lectures. You can then post those videos on YouTube, for free, and students can reference those videos over and over again while studying for a test or writing that paper. Also, by posting videos of your lectures, you can also satisfy the varying learning styles of students and also aid student’s who may have a learning disability. I have a great story about how taping your lectures can really help students. I met a professor once at Umass Dartmouth who taught MicroEconomics. One day he was in a computer lab and he saw one of his students watching a lecture video of a different micro-enconomics professor who also taught at Umass. So the professor made his way over to the student and asked him why he was watching Prof. So and So’s video when you aren’t in his class? The student replied that it was easier for him to study this way. By watching sections of the video over and over again, especially those sections that discussed complex topics, he was better able to understand the topic. Here is UCBerkely’s YouTube account where all videos, from educational to campus life, get posted. Also, if you trying to explain a technical concept like using Excel to create a Balance Sheet or creating an MLA works cited page, try using jing. Jing is a free screen-capturing software where it takes a video of what is occurring on your computer’s screen. You can then upload these videos.
Millennials mistakenly think that Google indexes everything that is online. However, Google does not have access to billions of web-pages that are considered proprietary, therefore these pages DO NOT appear in a Google Search. These hidden pages and sites are called the deep Web. There are estimates that the deep web represents 90% of all online content, therefore, when Google does a search and retrieves 10 million results, this only represents about 10% of all the content that is online.In addition, they employ very poor research techniques and they have difficulty breaking down research topics into appropriate keywords.
Employing Google Analytics, these are real search strings that JWU student’s entered in Google and were subsequently directed to a JWU library resource. You can see here that the use of full sentences is quite common.Because Google is penalty-free & instantaneous, students WILL always go their first NO matter what you do or say. Back to our previous point of Millennials having zero patience, Google provides INSTANT gratification with results, even if those results aren’t good enough. This is why they keep going back to Google.But library sessions can improve this. The Library works with students on keyword construction and the very important tool of evaluation of websites. Millennials are very poor at evaluating websites and if the information seems accurate enough to them, they will use it. Hence the popularity of Wikipedia. We teach students how to vet out websites for bias, credibility, timeliness and other categories to help them become better researchers.What not to do:We have seen in recent months some faculty will ban online sources in the hopes of getting students to use more print materials. But the library is moving away from print materials and purchasing more online proprietary databases. What would be beneficial for all parties involved, student and faculty, would be to require a mix of resources for an assignment, so many books, so many websites, and so many online LIBRARY resources.
Does anyone here have a SmartPhone? iPhone? Forrester, a technology research firm is predicting that 50% of mobile devices will become smartphones within the next three years and 90% by 2015.If you are already creating class videos, you are ahead of the game! If you upload those class videos to YouTube, they can be viewed on every Smart Device from the iPhone to the Play Station Portable. Students can even download those videos to their iPod if they wish. Several Universities, as a WHOLE are creating more Mobile applications for their students. For example, Stanford University has contracted with terriblyclever to create free applications for students such as the Stanford university map. This way students can download these applications to their iPhone and navigate their way to the University Auditorium with ease.Georgia Tech has created a GT Login application where students can access multiple Georgia Tech accounts via 1 log-in application on their iPhone. Once logged in, they can check their email, check to see if any laundry machines are available or even when the next shuttle bus is arriving. All from one application, LIVE, on their iPhone.
Most millennials, especially the later millennials, have years of experience in collaborative learning environments starting at day-care all the way to high school.Sometimes they do resent group work, especially if they feel like that they are doing most/all of the work and when it is difficult coordinate times/places for group collaboration.But certain digital tools can eliminate these barriers
Try using collaborative documentation tools. These online web applications allow multiple users to login, create documents, presentations or spreadsheets in a secure environment. Users can be logged into the same project at the same time and editing the same section and these applications can keep track of these edits in a real-time environment.Google Docs & Spreadsheets or Zoho, as stated earlier, can really relieve that anxiety of group work. Students can meet virtually and collaborate on their presentations or research projects without ever having to deal with the difficulty of coordinating a meeting time and place. Also, because Google Docs & Spreadsheets, keeps an accurate track of revision history, it is very easy for a professor to login and see which students contributed to that final project and those who just coasted along. Or try creating a class wiki, using pbwiki, for students to really make use of peer to peer learning.
Just because it is easy for millennials to jump on a computer and learn technology quicker and easier than some other generations, does not mean that they are aware of or are using all or even some of the web 2.0 services available to them. Also, they have difficulty differentiating online services and knowing what resources and tools are and are not appropriate for use:1. Difficulty conceptualizing difference between a blog and a website, to them it is just another online site. UNTIL they try and create one themselves2. Don’t understand that wikipedia is a resource that ANYONE can edit, UNTIL they do it themselvesLEARN BY DOING
There is a purveying assumption that all Millennials are technology experts. They aren’t. They like to think of themselves as being experts, but they aren’t. Their knowledge of technology, how it works, when to use it, is similar to my knowledge of automobiles. I know how to get into my car, start it, turn the radio on etc..but I have no idea how my steering mechanism works or what to do in case something goes wrong.This is the same for Millennials, they and we assume that they know how to do everything with computers, when in actuality, they only know how to drive a car.Millennials don’t really know blogs and typically won’t blog. They have NO idea what an RSS Feed is, does anyone here use RSS feeds?They have just started joining the Twitter ranks, and only in recent months with Twitter’s growing popularity.They have difficulty determining which online resource is the BEST tool for the job/assignment which relates back to them being poor researchers.The big point here is that don’t assume that they are more technologically-savvy than you are…they aren’t. BELIEVE Me!
III. Flexibility & Convenience
Prefer to keep time & commitments flexible in
order to take advantage of a better option if it
Expect faculty and the institution to give them
Sweeny, R. (2006)
IV. Personalization & Customization
Expect products/services to allow for as much
personalization & customization features as
possible to meet their changing needs &
Sweeny, R. (2006)
ZERO tolerance for delays
Expect services instantly when they are ready
Require constant feedback on their progress
Sweeny, R. (2006)
VIII. Nomadic/MOBILE Communicators
Utilize a variety of communication methods but
prefer synchronous digital methods such as IM
Prefer to receive service un-tethered
Pull information to any device
Sweeny, R. (2006)
Stanford University iPhone Apps
Georgia Tech: GT Login
Entire education experience has involved some
form of group work
Sweeny, R. (2006)
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