CTLT Dialogues

The Blog of the Center for Teaching & Learning with Technology

The Innovation Imperative: Student Centered Models for Learning

Posted by ctlt on June 5, 2008

The University Librarian for the New Jersey Institute for Technology, Richard Sweeney, spoke on “The Innovation Imperative: Student Centered Models for Learning.” The “innovation” in Richard’s title acknowledges that we’re in a period of transition, a shift in the way colleges and universities operate. He raised a Fundamental Question: Is our goal to give our students the best teaching? What if the way they learn is different from what we’re used to? Different from preceding generations? Based on a lot of research, particularly dozens of focus group meetings with members of the Millenials Generation, who were born between 1979 and 1994, and are coming to colleges and universities with different expectations and different ways of learning. That’s the basis for the imperative we face in higher education.

The research Richard and several others have conducted on the expectations and behaviors of Millenial Generation students has resulted in many articles that compare that generation with earlier generations of students, from whom they differ in several important respects.

Millenials expect more choices in everything they do. They expect greater personalization and customization of those choices. They’re more likely to seek out social networking opportunities and to engage in collaborative activities, while working and playing. They prefer modes of interaction that offer greater flexibility and convenience. They read less. Their approach to learning is more experiential, and they prize interactive learning experiences, both with faculty and with instructional resources, including online course delivery systems. And they are impatient; they have no tolerance for delays. Richard’s summary handout of Millenial behaviors is available here.

You should take some time and go through the many links that Richard provides on his Web page, which provide a great deal of background information on Millenials and research on them, as well as links to several Powerpoint presentations Richard has used when presenting the results of his studies to various groups and organizations. Rich in details and provocative in his discussion of their implications, his PowerPoint slides for his TNT presentation are available here.

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