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Growing up with technology has made Millennials the most computer literate generation. Millennials are expected to use and understand technology; this belief has led to more classes being taught online. Currently, about 97% of Millennials have cellphones;this has led researchers to believe that Millennials prefer the use of technology, over the use of a lecture in school. Dependence on technology does not necessarily mean Millennials prefer to take web-based classes.The unique characteristics found in millennials are the reasons why there is a preference for physical classrooms. Themes found in “Generational differences in using online learning systems”by Stapleton et al; “Teaching Learning and Millennial Students” by Wilson; and “Preferred Learning Methods of the Millennial Generation” by Nicholas supports this belief. The themes found in their articles address the characteristics found in Millennials, the dependence of millennials on technology, and online learning for millennials.“By the year 2010, 50% of learning will be done online” says Stapleton, Wen, Starrett, &Kilburn, (2007, p.100), but is this what millennials want? Predicted to be the first generation of people over 100 million, Stapleton et al, Wilson and Nicholas agree on the importance of understanding them before teaching them.
Born in the early 80s to the late 90s, Millennials are the new generation found on most college campuses. Millennials differ from previous generations; in order to successfully teach them, college educators must understand them. Growing up with baby boomer parents and the growth of technology has made Millennials a unique group of people. According to Stapleton et al (2007), millennials are fiercely independent, emotional, open, innovative, and are fascinated with new technology (p.101). Wilson (2004) calls millennials sheltered, confident, team oriented, conventional, pressured, optimistic, rule followers and accepters of authority (p.65). Nicholas (2008) calls millennials diverse, techno savvy collaborators. Authors Nicholas and Wilson both mention the team oriented nature of millennials, which is the main reason why Millennials prefer physical classrooms. Millennials prefer to work with others, which is difficult to do online according to Wilson (2007).
The techno savvy nature of Millennials is mentioned by all the authors. The authors agree on the dependence of technology found in Millennials as well.Nicholas (2008) says technology brings Millennials together; the use of social networking has made it easy for Millennials to collaborate with their peers, and it is essential for their connectivity (p.28). Wilson’s (2004) article discusses how to effectively teach the techno savvy Millennial students. The main theme in her article is the importance of learning, rather than memorization. Wilson (2004) gives seven principles that will assist in effectively teaching Millennials. None of the principles given include the inclusion of technology while learning. Technology is discussed later in her article, but it is not greatly discussed as it is in the articles by Stapleton et al (2007) and Nicholas (2008). Wilson mostly gives the bonuses and negatives that come along with involving technology in classrooms. These bonuses include immediate feedback on online quizzes, and the use of the internet to help solve problems (p.67). Wilson (2004) is the only author to bring up the negative implications technology will have on students. Cheating and academic dishonesty is discussed by Wilson, but not mentioned by the other authors. Wilson (2004) says issues of academic honesty come from reliance of the internet (p.67). Wilson (2004) does not give an in depth discussion of technology;she does not present any studies or findings to address Millennials learning preferences like authors Nicholas, and Stapleton et al.
The main theme in Nicholas’ (2008) article is the preferred learning methods of Millennials. Nicholas (2008) discusses how the environment of increased technology is helpful for understanding the learning methods of millennials (p.27). In a survey done by Nicholas (2008), Millennials were asked their preferred learning methods. 91% of respondents prefer PowerPoint slides, with a lecture. Only 26% of Millennials believed web-based technology increased their learning, while 58% percent felt they learned the same as they would in a classroom (p.32). Stapleton et al (2007) also conducted a study aimed at learning methods. The main theme in Stapleton et al’s (2007) article was learning differences and preferences between generations. In Stapleton et al’s (2007) article, a study was conducted to determine generational differences while using online learning systems. Like Wilson, Stapleton et al believes it is a requirement for colleges to understand the unique characteristics found in millennials in order to effectively teach them. To measure the effectiveness of learning, Stapleton et al (2007) suggests analyzing the student’s satisfaction with a course. Satisfaction is important because it leads to higher level of motivation, and better learning (p.102). In contrast, to improve the effectiveness of learning, Wilson (2004) gave the seven principles. Stapleton et al (2007) concludes the article by stating Millennials prefer interaction with peers during the learning process, while other generations prefer less discussion. The need for contact with other students leads to Millennials preferring a lecture over a web based course (p.107).
The satisfaction that comes along with taking online courses varies according to generation. According to Stapleton et al (2007) most assume Millennials prefer to learn online, while older generations prefer to learn in class (p.101). Stapleton et al (2007) says Millennials are not satisfied with learning online; they crave interaction, and are less likely to enroll in an online class than other generations (p.104). Wilson (2004) adds to this by saying frequent contact with faculty enhances students’ motivation to learn.Authors, Stapleton et al and Wilson address the difficulty of developing relationships online; developing relationships and understanding their peers is a characteristic found in Millennials. Wilson (2007) suggests the development of a biography section and virtual tours to help students get to know each other in an online classroom (p.68). Nicholas (2008) also speaks on the interactive and collaborative nature of millennials; Nicholas says millennials are accustomed to working in a team environment, and it is hard to do this online. Again, Nicholas’ study concluded that 90% of millennial respondents prefer to learn in class via lecture; only 26% learned more online(p.31). Stapleton et al’s (2007) study also confirmed that millennials believed online coursework reduced learning (p.107). Wilson (2007) says collaborating with others increases learning, and deep understanding (p.60).All the authors discussed the collaborative and interactive nature of millennials, which will lead to preferences of physical classrooms and lectures, as opposed to online classes.
Even though Millennials are expected to enjoy online learning because of their frequent use of technology, it is important not to make assumptions. Key similarities between Nicholas, Wilson and Stapleton et al are their support for teaching via lecture, versus teaching online. All the authors gave study results or findings in support of teaching students in the classroom; details about characteristics found in Millennials were given as well.The most important characteristic discussed was the collaborative nature of Millennials. Educators will need to alter their teaching patterns to fit the needs of Millennials. Based on all three of the readings, it is important not to aim toward including more technology because surprisingly, it is not a preferred method of learning. Knowing the characteristics of Millennials, and their preferred learning methods is necessary before attempting to teach them.
Nicholas, A.J. (2008). Preferred Learning Methods of the Millennial Generation. International Journal of Learning, 15 (6), 27-34.
Stapleton, J.L., Wen, H. J,. Starrett, D., & Kilburn, M. (2007). Generational differences in using online learning systems. Human Systems Management, 26 (2), 99-109.
Wilson, M.E. (2004). Teaching, learning, and millennial students. New Directions For Student Services, (106), 59-71.
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- Chantelle Berry (Author), 2015, The technology dependency of Generation Z, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/310664