The "millennials" (people born late 1970's to early 2000's) "are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding." (Keeter and Taylor 2009) Do they Google "learning" as they need it? Are notebooks and textbooks obsolete? How should education adapt to meet their needs?
The infographic from the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Youth Entrepreneur Council points out "this generation prefers on-the-spot recognition to traditional performances reviews." I see the residual effect of this in my classroom. The online assignments I use provide instant feedback as well as multiple tries. In the classroom, though, I am unable to provide continuous individual feedback. Students work for 80 minutes in the computer lab whereas in the classroom their effort level is less intense. The infographic goes on to say, "millennials are natural collaborators, particularly when the group's purpose and goals are understood." [I pause here for effect.]
Technically savvy, desire instant feedback, prefer collaboration, and need a clear purpose, hmmmm, this is not rocket science. The students of this generation are telling us how to help them succeed. With our eyes open and creativity in place, we must produce quality assessments which remain reliable and valid to a clear purpose. We must provide efficient feedback which strikes at the teachable moment. We must involve technology and support collaboration within our assesments. The tools are available to support these things. "Millennial" education must now be real in our classrooms (face-to-face and virtual).
As for cheating (the elephant in the room few wish to talk about), I can only offer an opinion based on a Keeter and Taylor observation, "They (the millennials) are the least religiously observant youths since survey research began charting religious behavior." Yes, I assume a lack of sincere 'religious' behavior can negatively impact ethical behavior. I am open to hear other views on this, but I find it difficult to avoid that connection when I hear of students who do not think cheating is wrong.
Keeter J. and Taylor P. (December 11, 2009). The Millennials.
Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1437/millennials-profile.
Buck, S. (June 28, 2012). Managing Millennials: Why Gen Y Will Be Running the Country by 2020. Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://mashable.com/2012/06/28/millennials-work-jobs/.