Teaching the iGeneration.

Some instructors have lamented the challenges of teaching students who are constantly logged-on, plugged-in, facebooked, etc.

Guess what? I like teaching the iGeneration*. I enjoy using YouTube clips in my lectures, putting together online discussions, and making use of blogs and online resources. I like the fact that they all have laptops (but not if they’re rude enough to play games during class). I appreciate that I can upload my lecture notes as PDF files and they will all be able to bring them to lectures. I have a BlackBerry, an iPod, a netbook, a blog (obviously), a document scanner, and miscellaneous other gadgets. I hate being offline as much as my students do.

I think it really depends on whether you feel that technology is a friend or a foe. If you consider it all just a huge distraction and a competitor for their attention, you’re likely to dislike current technological trends. If, on the other hand, you embrace it, try to keep up with it (or better yet, stay ahead of your students), and use it to connect with the class, then it can be really very exciting.


* The only thing I don’t like is the excessive use of the word “like” that is common among students… though it did inspire me to create a t-shirt:

3 thoughts on “Teaching the iGeneration.

  1. New technologies are friends of education and learning. We've seen that from the time of the invention of the printing press and at many stages afterward: penny post, record players, radio, television, electronic calculators, and computers.

    The important issue is not whether we continue to incorporate these new technologies into our teaching methods—of course we will. The issue is whether the latest trends will "replace" the other ways of teaching and learning.

    This is a debate that's gone on whenever new technologies arise. There are always some fans of the new technologies who think their new toys are going to radically transform education. How many times have you heard the outlandish claims for Web 2.0, or is it now 3.0?

    I remember how television was going to change everything in the 1960s. Lots of people were predicting that university lectures would disappear by 1980 and students would be staying at home to watch TV lectures instead of going to the university campus.

  2. On the other hand some technologies really *do* change everything and replace the old ways. I'm probably among the youngest generation to remember the absurd process of physical class registration before automated phone registration and later Web-based methods replaced it — waiting around in lines for hours only to find out that the class you wanted to attend is full is fortunately a thing of the past.

    And we are living in a time where physical journals are rapidly becoming redundant, and although the American Chemical Society has done some things I've disagreed with in the past, their promise to stop printing physical journals next year is the right idea.

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