Nov 10, 2009

Millennial Education

In case you hadn’t noticed, marketing companies have a name for those of us born between 1980 and 1995 – Millennials. Individuals between the ages of 29 and 14 have been dubbed as the generation that was born with a monitor and keyboard already latched to their faces and fingers, completely unaware of a world without cell phones or the Internet, a generation that is just now realizing it’s power- not just to consume, but to change the world.

The generation is, however, very good at consuming. Millennials can purportedly multitask their way to consuming 20 hours worth of media in a scant 7 hours per day. Other superpowers include the ability to scrutinize, evaluate, and customize experiences to suit particular needs, wants, and abilities. This specialized selectivity encompasses the opinions of peers, who play an important part of decision-making.

It is expectations such as these that compose a broad conglomeration of ideals that educators are basing new proposals for teaching techniques, methodology, and technologies. It is the reason we now have educational resources like online class environments, SmartBoards, and media-rich homework help sites like HippoCampus. They are advances in the name of making learning interesting, relevant, and above all, effective.

But one of the most critical aspects of the Millennial Generation is its size, with some sources weighing it in at over 60 million strong. This is just another indicator of greater and greater population growth, one aspect that education continues to grapple with.

The question remains- how does a society teach an ever-expanding population with expanding needs and requirements? The “solution” of mass-produced education is one that many believe we are already leaning towards.

But, there are some new ways around that bleak proposal. Adaptive learning, for example, employs novel data-mining techniques to find the best approach for a student to take towards learning material. If, for example, the student displays adequate competence in a particular topic, they will be sped on to the next topic, maintaining engagement. Or, if a student has problems with a particular topic, they can try multiple types of material presentation in an effort to find one that suits their particular learning style, such as video instead of a reading exercise.

Another exciting idea is the use of artificial intelligence to teach a class. Imagine never crashing a course to get the best teacher- just click and select. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment and rating so your friends know whether or not to sign up.

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