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EdTech: Preparing (for) Generation-i


Who are they and what do they need to know to succeed?

Every generation contributes to the growth spurt of the world and respective country. We are now in generation-i. Generation—immediate, Internet, itinerant, etc. We have had numerous generations before that have contributed but now it is a global community and the generational structure encompasses this age group throughout the world.

So who is Gen-i? What are they like? What do they respond to?


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Gen-i is immediate, Internet savvy, intelligent, itinerant, isolated (?), innovative, intuitive, ingenious, indulgent, and innocuous; and so on.

How do we reach them? Are they a rebel without a clue? Are they rebelling or just walking away because we don’t get it? How many parents are online daily? Farmville doesn’t count—sorry. This is where they live. No more communes, no more Greenwich Village, no more kibutzes. It is all virtual and global.

A friend of mine walked into his daughter’s room to speak to her and he heard “Hi Mr. Soandso.” To say he was freaked out is not the issue. There on her desk was a live video of her friend’s head talking to him. Yep, she was iChatting with a school friend. This is their community—play-dates on steroids.

To prepare partly for one of my lecture classes I will simply e-mail an old student who now is the head of a multi-national brand and we iChat with my class for an hour or so. I prep the class on the subject we will discuss and then afterwards we have a short synopsis on what was covered. It is incredible. There is no cost, no speaker has to leave their home, it is projected on a 14-foot-tall screen with speakers, the students can all be seen via the built-in camera and they can be heard via the built-in speaker. They get to have a Q&A with someone in a major position directly related to the students’ field of choice, hundreds of miles away all for no cost. We record it and then post it to the class blog for review. The students love it. It works great. Why? Because they would never think that the teacher knows anything. This comes from years of education where most teachers just got through the day. So here they can interview someone in a serious position for an hour all at no cost to the school.

Get along little doggies….

I am old—54 years old next week. That’s not old, according to some. To 20-year-olds, yes, it is.  However I have found the fountain of youth. It is called teaching college. Everyday I am involved with 20-year-olds that never age. Every year a new crop comes through. Every year I make new friends some stay friends for decades, some never but at least I get the chance to share what I love with others who supposedly are interested. The trick is to get to know them—to go from 1990s big shoulder pads to 2000s really bad hair and accept it as a rite of passage. Today that rite is the use of the Internet: This is where they live, love and re-invent themselves. Basically it is a virtual—digital—Woodstock without the mud. It is their life-blood.

A May 12 report by British researchers from the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of IT (known as BCS) found a link between Internet access and well-being. But some benefit more than others from tapping into the information superhighway, including those with lower incomes or fewer qualifications, people living in the developing world and, perhaps most surprisingly, women.

Overall, the study found that access to the Internet leads people to feel better about their lives. “Put simply, people with IT access are more satisfied with life even when taking account of income,” said Michael Willmott, the social scientist who authored the study, at a press conference. “Our analysis suggests that IT has an enabling and empowering role in people’s lives, by increasing their sense of freedom and control, which has a positive impact on well-being or happiness.”

Future skill sets…

According to recent surveys, the skill sets of the future will depend heavily on a combination of critical thought and the application of that thought in the real word. This is generated through a proper educational model. It is great to teach the concept of critical thought and how it is used to generate solutions, since by doing this it creates a strong analytical mind. Through this process any problem will be dealt with in an analytical method. However this can be used in a vocational way as well.

Imagine the ability of individuals that have coupled the great strength of critical thought with the pure knowledge and experience that is gained through vocational training. If this sounds odd to you, consider medical school or law school. Aren’t they examples of years of critical thought practiced through a vocational structure? I hope so!

Today this process must be applied to all areas of study. Critical thought alone is not enough today to go forward in this new economic structure. Skills must be applied to this newly engaged mind. I am not advocating a trade school environment just forward progress towards capabilities. How can we accommodate all this in a limited amount of class time? Very simply, by the use of virtual classrooms, and virtual lab spaces.

Preparing the student…

This all has to do with properly preparing the student for this new global economy. Today the employment picture is very different than just 18 months ago. We have a true world economy now. I have been saying this for the last three years, now when Ian Bremmer comes on to Jon Stewart and specifically says those words it is obviously true.  The job descriptions have changed. The nature of what each person is responsible for has changed as well. There are 360 degree reviews for each employee. Everyone gets to look forward and to look back as well. Where are the employees headed as well as where is the company headed is important to all concerned. How do I fit in is a constant question for each employee – also for each company in reference to the economic marketplace.

Even the world of teaching is feeling the bump in the road. Earlier this week, a NYTimes articles stated that for eight positions at a school in Port Washington there were 3,630 applicants. That is basically 450-to-one odds. Can you say flea market! This maybe good and this maybe bad time will tell.

Assessing the model

We also have to assess the model for even educational institutions. I was having a conversation this morning with a friend. We were discussing this new educational model. Well I proposed a 3 day school week with the other 2 days being done at home virtually. Could save huge amounts of money and hopefully trickle down to taxes. Surveys find that most home-schooled do better than school-based learners. “Little House O’So Dreary”are we going backwards or forwards with this concept?

Outcomes

Whichever way we go for it, the answer seems to be in the “cloud” – the virtual space being developed for use by all forms of information. Here we have a non-archival structure. Always on—always virtual! The libraries of Alexandria fully digitized. Basically a no cost structure of acquiring knowledge. Who will reach for these volumes?  I’m not certain but I am pretty sure they will have an “i” in their names.

Hi Mary Beth, I’m not sure how it happened, but the “Jerry’s Ink” that ran this week is actually Jerry’s “The Biggest Ass” column from a few weeks ago. I’m really really sorry for the error. The correct column, “Summer,” has been posted on our website.

More articles filed under Columns,Long Island Education

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