Using Technology To Teach NetGen Students

Have you made the viewing of archived webcasts a part of your continuous learning process yet? If not, you should make a commitment to discover the wealth of learning opportunities that are available right at your desktop. Another excellent webcasted lecture became available recently, and you can begin your exploration of webcasts with this one. Diana Oblinger, Vice-President at EDUCAUSE, was recorded giving a lecture on integrating digital learning experiences into teaching in order to better fit the culture of NetGen learners. It runs about 90 minutes, but the good thing about archived webcasts is that you have the ability to skip around the recording if you hit a section that’s of less interest. The lecture was recorded at Cornell University on February 28, 2006. You can find a brief summary of the presentation here and a link to it actual webcast here. I hope you’ll take advantage of the professional development possibilities offered by webast archives.

Speaking of netgen students, you may recall that one of the characteristics of our changing student population that we often hear about is their penchant for group learning. They like to learn in groups – right. They like to learn collaboratively – yes. Well, the other day I arrived a bit early for an instruction session for one of our undergraduate business classes here, and a few students were already in the room. While I was setting up for my session I couldn’t help but be amused by their conversation. They were complaining bitterly about – you guessed it – having to do another group project. So I broke and in and said, “Wait a minute, everything I hear about you Millennial students is that you really like to learn and work in groups?” Their response – “Where did you ever hear something like that?”. Despite this experience I continue to see many students working in groups in our library – no doubt collaborating on all the group projects our faculty assign.

3 thoughts on “Using Technology To Teach NetGen Students”

  1. It seems those Millenial kids have a bit more insight than all the so-called experts. Then again, as an educator I have know for quite a while that students hate collaborative group assignments in class. Actually, a distinction needs to be made. What they really hate is imposed group assignments, assignments that usually boil down to busywork or just a way for the professor to take a few holiday days from actually making and implementing a lesson plan. Now, put those same students online during their free time, and you can rest assured that collaboration can take place. I don’t think it is just a generational issue either. College, diverse as it is, means students of all ages, and they all hate group work. If you see them together and ask them, they will likely give you a similar answer to the one you got. And I don’t think this gets better over time. I hated group work as an undergrad, hated it even more as a grad student. I think some of those so-called experts need to get out some more. Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. Regarding students and group work, I think Angel is right that there is a distinction, but I think the distinction is between group work that is assigned (whether busywork or well-designed assignments) and group work that comes out of socializing. Students like working in groups of their own choosing (i.e. their friends) and aren’t so keen on working in groups of people they don’t know, don’t like, or don’t share the same goals with (e.g. getting an A vs just getting it done).

    Others have postulated that the relative ease with which we can now filter out opinions or ideas or issues that we aren’t already interested in — through news filters, RSS, etc. (why not link Steven’s posts?) — means that we aren’t exposed to much breadth of opinions/ideas/issues and this can make us less tolerant of those that don’t match our own. Perhaps the rise of social networking technologies extends that line of argument to people; the easier it becomes to meet people who share your passions, the less tolerant you are of those who don’t. And assigned groupwork (in an undergrad environment anyway) is more likely to put you in with the latter than the former. So the Millennials/netgen/genY may in fact be less likely to want to learn through groupwork even though they like working in groups.

    To go on way too long, I think this is one of many examples of using the generational literature to come to conclusions it doesn’t necessarily support. Students like working in groups therefore they must like groupwork. Students have grown up using computers so they must all be tech savvy. These things don’t necessarily follow, and in the case of techology, a lot of the empirical research out there doesn’t bear it out.

  3. We’ve been discussing collaborative & individual spaces in planning the future of our libraries. I’ve noticed that lots of our students (graduate and undergraduate) like to use collaborative spaces, but they seem to enjoy them most when they’re working on individual research projects side-by-side (I even have pairs of students who prefer to set up simultaneous appointments with me although they’re researching different topics for the same class), or when they’re studying together. I’ve never met a student who was in favor of group projects, especially when their grades depend upon other students’ work ethics. Of course we also have lots of students who crave individual study spaces; often these are the same students, but at different times.

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