Working with the Internet Generation
By Learnkey Inc.
They're called Generation M. Whether the "M" represents Media, Millennial or Multi-taskers, is open to interpretation. Technically, it represents Media. According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, this generation of 8 - 18 year olds has adapted to their multi-media environment in ways their parents and teachers cannot.
Survey results reveal that children and teens are increasing the time they spend using "new media" such as computers, the Internet and video games, while spending the same amount of time with "old" media like TV, print and media. Multi-tasking is purely second nature, and many kids express that they concentrate much better when focusing on more than one thing at a time. The result is that kids are spending roughly 44 hours a week simultaneously plugged into computers, music, cell phones and video games - compressing 60 hours of information into just 44.
This heightened stimulation has created a world where students are not nearly as interested in learning from books or lectures, and quiet reading time continues to dwindle. Many educators face this challenge head-on every day. The evolution of Generation M is beckoning educators to come out and play - and the teacher who implements media learning benefits from revitalizing what students perceive as mundane learning with a heightened stimulus in the classroom.
According to Technology Horizons in K-12 Education Journal, many students are using the iPod for everyday educational activities like recording family history, conducting their own podcasts and downloading assignments. After reviewing these assignments, some students will then receive a text message on their cell phone to test their knowledge before they take their online exams to measure progress. And how many parents of teenagers have balked over observing their child with an iPod bud in one ear and a TV on in the background, researching their social studies assignment with several simultaneous text message conversations at once? At this point, it seems every parent has.
In education, the effects of this media saturation are profound, and in order to capture and hold the attention of our youth, we must understand the many positive aspects to this trend. For instance, students are taking the initiative to learn these technology products, proving their willingness to learn. They are demonstrating the complexity of their brains, showing us the depth of brain power they truly have. They are also just the same as kids from generations back - eager to be early adopters and gain independence.
So, give them what they want; to a point. The learning discourse is no time to try to convince them of the virtues of simplicity. Generation M is a forward-thinking, energetic generation that demands faster, more visual and higher-stimulation learning. Incorporate media learning into every topic that allows it. You'll see higher retention, more enthusiastic participation and students will enjoy learning more. And that's what everyone really wants.
Students who enjoy learning are far more likely to succeed, and who doesn't want to see our future leaders wow us with their crisp communication skills and sharp minds? It's time to face the reality that what was on our heels for so long, is now directly in front of us: Generation M is more tuned in than any other generation, and they are eager to learn. Let's take advantage of their enthusiasm and help them learn the way they have always learned - through entertainment, interactive media and multi-tasking. And let's save the simplicity for those times when students are not learning. After all, those brains are on overdrive - and achieving balance is just one more form of multi-tasking.