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Author: ‘iGeneration’ requires a different approach to instruction

Today’s students have grown up with constant tech access and prefer to multitask, says psychology professor Larry Rosen

A new book asserts that students who have grown up with constant access to mobile technology learn - and need to be taught - differently.

A new book asserts that students who have grown up with constant access to mobile technologies learn—and need to be taught—differently.

Today’s middle and high school students learn much differently from students just a few years older—and that’s mainly because they’ve never known a world without the internet or cell phones, says psychology professor and author Larry D. Rosen, whose research could give educators valuable insights into the needs of today’s learners.

Children born in the 1990s, dubbed the “iGeneration” by Rosen, live in a time of rapidly changing technology, in which they are constantly connected to a number of mobile technologies. Rosen said the “i” stands for both the technologies these students use—such as the iPod, iPhone, and Wii—and the individualized ways in which students use these tools.

“iGeners are growing up with portable technology. Literally from birth, these children are able to grow up using mobile technology,” he said. “But I also look at the little ‘i’ as reflecting the individualized culture—reflecting our needs and desires.”

Rosen said teenagers’ desire for individualized experiences is something they expect will carry over into their education. Jody Steinglass, president of Empire Edge, responded to that need when his company designed Adapster, an SAT math study tool that differentiates and individualizes learning for its users.

Students take a diagnostics test to determine the areas in which they need to study, and the program creates a customized study guide based on those results.

“A study plan is developed with their strengths and weaknesses in mind,” he said.

Steinglass recognized teens’ connection to their mobile devices and created Adapster specifically for iPhones and iPods, though he is currently working to create an online version as well.

“People don’t want to carry SAT books around with them, but kids already have their iPods with them. So when they have five minutes to kill, they can pull up the [application] and do some problems right then,” he said.

Rosen agreed that iGeners are constantly connected to their mobile devices. He noted that iGeneration students don’t look at the technology as a tool, the way it’s viewed by older generations—even the so-called Millennial generation that preceded today’s teens—but as an expectation. And this affects the way these students learn.

“If we look at kids who spend their entire day online multitasking, in many ways teachers are still asking them to learn one task at a time and in an old-fashioned way,” he said.

Andy Petroski, director of the Learning Technologies Master of Science program at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania, said engagement is a key to connecting with today’s students.

“These kids are highly engaged and active in their personal world. Traditional school is so far on the other end of the spectrum for them,” he said. “More than any other generation, they are pleading, ‘Engage me,’ … because to sit and listen and do one thing for long periods is so foreign to their daily lives.”

Petroski agreed that designing multidimensional lessons that take advantage of how students live and work outside of school is a much-needed change in K-12 education.

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Comments:

  1. PatrickA

    April 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. My book “gen-i:The Rise of Generation Interactive” focuses on the same issues. They just learn different.
    Please see my blog

    http://patrickaievoli.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/gen-ithe-rise-of-generation-interactive/

  2. PatrickA

    April 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. My book “gen-i:The Rise of Generation Interactive” focuses on the same issues. They just learn different.
    Please see my blog

    http://patrickaievoli.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/gen-ithe-rise-of-generation-interactive/

  3. cal q lator

    April 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I tried to find the ipod App. I can’t find it. Does it exist or is it just a beta version to be cited in the article. It sounds cool, but if kids and teachers can’t access it, it’s merely fluff.

  4. cal q lator

    April 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I tried to find the ipod App. I can’t find it. Does it exist or is it just a beta version to be cited in the article. It sounds cool, but if kids and teachers can’t access it, it’s merely fluff.

  5. anilkm3944

    April 14, 2010 at 2:23 am

    They have hit the nail on the head ! The present generation of students is certainly very different from those even a few years ago. Traditional classes, tutors and blackboards are slowly going out of vogue. Very soon, the face of tutoring and learning is going to be altered beyond recognition.

    Along with new gizmos coming in everyday with advances in technology, Online Tutoring also seems to be coming of age. Online tutoring programs like Eduwizards (http://www.eduwizards.com/) are working at the cutting edge of technology to bring education within the reach of thousands of students. Eduwizards relies on it’s vast bank of certified and experienced tutors to provide customized lessons to students in the comfort of their homes and as per their schedule. What’s more, Eduwizards can even provide tutors for tricky subjects and topics that most other such services would shy away from.

    Truly, the ‘i’ in iGeneration stands for technology and the the benefits it brings to individual students.

  6. anilkm3944

    April 14, 2010 at 2:23 am

    They have hit the nail on the head ! The present generation of students is certainly very different from those even a few years ago. Traditional classes, tutors and blackboards are slowly going out of vogue. Very soon, the face of tutoring and learning is going to be altered beyond recognition.

    Along with new gizmos coming in everyday with advances in technology, Online Tutoring also seems to be coming of age. Online tutoring programs like Eduwizards (http://www.eduwizards.com/) are working at the cutting edge of technology to bring education within the reach of thousands of students. Eduwizards relies on it’s vast bank of certified and experienced tutors to provide customized lessons to students in the comfort of their homes and as per their schedule. What’s more, Eduwizards can even provide tutors for tricky subjects and topics that most other such services would shy away from.

    Truly, the ‘i’ in iGeneration stands for technology and the the benefits it brings to individual students.

  7. tpelton

    May 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Yes individualization is important! As is presenting useful models to support students in sense-making.

    There are about 25 million iPod Touches in the hands of youth today, plus you can add the number iPhones in parent’s hands that get passed off. Although the distribution of these resources is uneven, the price of the ipod Touch makes it a good candidate for 1:1 programs or even just as a small set of in-class resources.

    We expect that anytime, any-place micro-tutoring and consolidation will have a positive effect on student learning – but we need to have the right software and the right approach to supporting students as they work with the software to ensure that the knowledge that they acquire is connected and durable. We also expect that by providing children and youth with an opportunity to interact with models to make sense of foundational concepts and skills their ability to move forward in their understanding of new concepts will be enhanced.

    Looking at the apps on the app store is rather discouraging – of the 1000+ math related apps – more than 90% are simply flash cards. However, if you sort through the apps you will find a few which have been developed by educators. Next, if you consider how you might support students as they work with specific apps, you will begin to see their potential – look for ways to engage students in sense-making discussions, challenge them to work together to solve the presented problems and share their strategies, then have them focus on accuracy before speed.

    As teacher educators we are developing a collection of free apps to support k-8 students in developing or remediating foundational conceptual understandings and skills (see MathTappers Find Sums, MathTappers; Clockmaster, and MathTappers: Estimate Fractions on the App store – and keep looking we have more on the way).

    We encourage parents, tutors and teachers to review the info and advice sections and to take a few minutes to become familiar with each game and then work with their student(s) for a few minutes to explore the models and games presented, and discuss useful strategies before sending them off to work on their own.

    The best apps present meaningful/useful models, and encourage students to develop accuracy first and fluency second.

  8. tpelton

    May 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Yes individualization is important! As is presenting useful models to support students in sense-making.

    There are about 25 million iPod Touches in the hands of youth today, plus you can add the number iPhones in parent’s hands that get passed off. Although the distribution of these resources is uneven, the price of the ipod Touch makes it a good candidate for 1:1 programs or even just as a small set of in-class resources.

    We expect that anytime, any-place micro-tutoring and consolidation will have a positive effect on student learning – but we need to have the right software and the right approach to supporting students as they work with the software to ensure that the knowledge that they acquire is connected and durable. We also expect that by providing children and youth with an opportunity to interact with models to make sense of foundational concepts and skills their ability to move forward in their understanding of new concepts will be enhanced.

    Looking at the apps on the app store is rather discouraging – of the 1000+ math related apps – more than 90% are simply flash cards. However, if you sort through the apps you will find a few which have been developed by educators. Next, if you consider how you might support students as they work with specific apps, you will begin to see their potential – look for ways to engage students in sense-making discussions, challenge them to work together to solve the presented problems and share their strategies, then have them focus on accuracy before speed.

    As teacher educators we are developing a collection of free apps to support k-8 students in developing or remediating foundational conceptual understandings and skills (see MathTappers Find Sums, MathTappers; Clockmaster, and MathTappers: Estimate Fractions on the App store – and keep looking we have more on the way).

    We encourage parents, tutors and teachers to review the info and advice sections and to take a few minutes to become familiar with each game and then work with their student(s) for a few minutes to explore the models and games presented, and discuss useful strategies before sending them off to work on their own.

    The best apps present meaningful/useful models, and encourage students to develop accuracy first and fluency second.