This article discusses some necessary(?) teaching strategies to address learning differences with the Millennial generation.
No one can deny that using a strategy to "prompt students to acquire information by articulating their own questions, evaluating information and selecting evidence to support their positions," is a bad strategy; however, shouldn't we also expect our college educated millennials to have more than a "slim" attention span?
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I've posted the whole article below because the actual seed link requires a FREE registration to view. The actual link on this seed goes to the Las Vegas Review Journal's home page.
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Millennials spur teaching change
New technique caters to short attention spans
By K.C. HOWARD
With blogs, Wi-Fi and Google, BlackBerry and Froogle, MP3s and Podcasts, the latest generation of undergraduates has a technological affluence that some educators say is forcing them to change the way they teach.
Known as the Millennials, this group of students, born in the 1980s, has been acclimated to a world of fast-paced information. An hour-and-15-minute lecture can be difficult for them to sit through; they're what UNLV's Dean of Libraries Patricia Iannuzzi describes as active learners.
"It's more of a matter of they won't stand still for anything. They will tune you out," she said.
"They were raised to be active from the cradle."
Professors are restructuring classes to engage these students using a technique called information literacy, which prompts students to acquire information by articulating their own questions, evaluating information and selecting evidence to support their positions.
Information literacy teaches students to think critically using libraries, databases and the Internet rather than learning through lectures and exams.
"We get bored. Our attention span is slim," said Joe Francis, 18, a UNLV freshman.
It's not uncommon for him or his peers to text message others while sitting through lectures that last as long as three hours, he said. He learns more effectively when he is reading information for himself, he said.
"Older people have more patience," he said.
Iannuzzi, who has been on the forefront of the information literacy field for the past two decades, hopes to receive a grant to infuse the technique into general education courses at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada State College and the Community College of Southern Nevada.
The program would be similar to one Iannuzzi helped begin for faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, that helped faculty revamp their curriculum.
"Students learn better this way," said Anna-Livia Brawn, a French language lecturer at Berkeley who was one of the first to go through the program. "They feel more responsible for their own work."
Brawn changed the structure of French 102, a French literature and composition class, which she had taught as other Berkeley instructors taught.
The students used the instructor's lessons and a bulky reader that covered the great French texts, like playwright Moliere.
In the new version of the course, she said, "I didn't use the reader at all and I don't think any of my students mentioned Moliere."
Her students got to pick topics that interested them, read about them and tell the rest of the class what they learned. Her students chose to research such topics as a Jewish community in North Africa and Vietnamese authors who fled their homeland for Paris.
Because the students were interested in their own topics, "it made it much more personal. They were prepared to do a stunning amount of work," she said, adding the new structure created more work for her too.
She had to ensure students were prepared to do quality research, which in some cases meant background lessons about their chosen topics.
A downside to the approach, she said, is that some students aren't as knowledgeable or enthused as others about the topic. "If you're really depending on high quality student research so others can learn from it, that can be tricky," she said.
At UNLV, the library offers about 500 workshops a year to help faculty integrate information literacy techniques into their courses.
But Iannuzzi is working with CCSN and Nevada State officials to create a program for faculty, who are teaching the large general education classes that hit hundreds of students a year. She wants to eventually focus efforts on education departments so future teachers can implement these techniques in K-12 classrooms.
Accustomed to using "Google" as a verb, Millennials also need to learn to go beyond superficial Web browsers for research, some educators said.
"Part of what the new age of technology has done, it kind of equalizes information in a way. It makes it seems like it's all on equal footing when there are always sources more credible than others," said Deborah Boehm, a UNLV professor.
She's part of a new program this semester that teams UNLV faculty, students and librarians to help restructure classes with more focus on experimental and research activities.
UNLV professor Dan Cook is using the program to revamp his entertainment engineering and design course. The class entailed field trips to entertainment venues such as Cirque du Soleil shows, class discussions with locals in the entertainment technology field and a term project.
"But I didn't think it was very useful. So I figured we needed to toughen it up and actually put some meat into the class," Cook said.
Two former students are helping him create more open-ended hands-on projects, one of which asks students to create a portable ballistic device that throws tennis balls.
"You've got freshmen coming in who have grown up with Google so they can find this stuff faster than I can," he said. "A traditional, lecture-based course is going to be boring because they're used to something that's interactive. They're used to learning by doing."
Such research-based learning can make a large class feel personal and engage those with short attention spans, Iannuzzi said.
Last year, she spoke in Stockholm at the public services summit during Nobel Week to educators around the world about Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, a world enthralling thousands of Millennials where they assume identities and create environments online.
Iannuzzi noted Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing similar games that can be used for education and questioned how educators can better use this generation's technology to teach.
"They communicate in a different way," she said of the students. "They communicate through their devices."