Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Commentary: Sotir

There have been a lot of articles recently on the issue of connecting with the current generation of students. Whether you call them 'Digital Natives' or 'NextGen Students' or 'Millennial Students', these students form the fabric of future educational needs. They are used to multi-tasking, multi-media and multi-sensory approaches to learning. Because technology is pervasive, this style of learning, while championed by the young, is applicable to all ages. Seniors as well as teens use cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging and chat rooms, with varying degrees of proficiency. Ours is a media driven society that functions on instantaneous information. If you want to know how long a trip will be, message signs over highways let you know the approximate times to various end points. GPS systems guide you to the destination. Web-enabled cell phones can give you the current weather conditions and warnings.

As an academic institution, we need to embrace these societal changes and carry them into the classroom. Interconnectivity and communication tools are important to students as well as instructors. Students need to not only have information, but they need to know where additional information can be sought. While most institutions boast a website, the best of them have interactive sites that not only give general information but act as portals to other sources of information and learning opportunities. We have become a society of gatherers who 'Google' information when it is needed. It is imperative that we develop the tools our students need to learn. We should not limit our instructional methodologies to those that were effective in the past, but rather explore how new developments can be used in conjunction with the old to enhance the educational environment. Change should be the only constant.