Teaching, Technology

The Times They are a-Changin’: How Gen Y Changed the Way We Learn

(Zach Buckley is new to the adaptivelearnin community. He will be a regular blog contributor. The article below is his first contribution. He adds insight into technology and generation Y. I’m from generation X, so reading his prospective is enlightening. Welcome Zach and enjoy his contribution!)
 

Generation Y refers to those of us born in the late 80s to mid-90s, who are unified by an upbringing that coincided with the birth and development of the Internet and modern technology. Because of this technology-rich upbringing, people born in between these years tend to be more naturally comfortable with technology in general, as well as more open to the introduction of newer and more complex devices and software.

This unique upbringing distinguishes Generation Y from earlier generations in everything from the way we communicate with one another to the amount of time we spend using technology. Because Generation Y is so comfortable using technological media, enrolling in an online bachelor degree program feels just as natural as pursuing a degree at a traditional institution. Although individuals belonging to Generation Y can take partial credit for the educational revolution, the movement can also benefit those beyond millennial birthday brackets.

Quick Facts About Generation Y:
Understanding the habits and characteristics of Generation Y will ultimately ensure a smoother integration of younger individuals into the professional sphere. The following facts offer a small glimpse into the life of the average Generation Y member:

  •  We spend a lot of time on the web. According to SocialFish, Generation Y spends at least three hours online each day. This figure may seem slightly lower than expected, but remember that it doesn’t include time spent on smartphones and other electronic, Internet-accessible devices.
  • Social networking is our primary form of communication. The average Millennial has multiple social networking accounts and uses nearly all of them on a daily basis as a basic form of communication. For example, it would be just as common and socially acceptable for one of us to arrange a get-together with friends or classmates on Facebook as it would be to arrange it on the phone.
  • Technology is our inseparable learning companion. Millennials grew up relying almost entirely on technology to find the answers to homework problems, write and format essays, and create presentations for class. Our reflexive response to receiving an academic assignment is to Google the subject before even setting foot in the library.
  • We tend to shun formalities in favor of more personable relationships. Although Generation Y is certainly capable of behaving in a professional manner, we have a propensity to turn business relationships into personal relationships, and don’t see much use for distinguishing between the two.
  • We’re fast learners. Growing up in an age where technology evolved at a rapid pace, we had no choice but to learn quickly and adapt to the changes. As a result, we are able to continue keeping up with the speed of modern technology as well, and are excited about the potential benefits the latest advancements will bring.

Education Through the Eyes of the Y’s:
Generation Y places a high value on education, and tends to go farther than previous generations to achieve higher degrees. According to CareerBuilder.com, 79 percent of Millennials surveyed in 2011 reported that they had completed at least some college. A reported 65 percent cited education as one of the top three preparation activities for advancing in the workplace, while 40 percent of respondents indicated that “getting the proper education” was the most important choice they could make to prepare for a future career.
This growing drive to earn a higher degree is complemented by the growing accessibility of higher education for Millennials, in the form of community colleges, four-year institutions and online colleges as well. For the Y’s, pursuing higher education through the web is a very convenient and fitting choice for a lifestyle that already takes place largely online. And understanding the unique characteristics and qualities of Generation Y allows us to see how technology and social media integration into larger parts of our lives won’t just benefit the education space; it will continue to enhance work environments as Millennial populations become a greater proportion of the workforce.

Guest blogger, author and contributor of this post is Zach Buckley.  Zach Buckley is a freelance writer who is interested in exploring the intersection of culture, science and education.  He lives in the Midwest and enjoys music, literature and good food.

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