and Howe posit that being part of a generation includes a set
of common beliefs and behaviors as well as a common location in
history. Academic advisors must come to terms with how we fit
into the generational schemata, and how our common beliefs and
assumptions are similar to or different from those of other generations
including students from the Millennial generation.
following attributes are among those most applied to the Millennial
generation: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, achieving,
pressured, and conventional. These characteristics are a distinct
contrast from those applied to the previous group, Generation
X: slackers, individually motivated, lacking respect for authority,
and world wise. ( 1 ) It may come as a surprise
to advisors working with Millennial students that this is a generation
that will accept guidance and instruction. However we must remember
that college may be the first time that Millennials have received
any indication that may not be as special as they have been treated.
( 2 )
and Uses of Technology
increasing technological demands in the world, colleges continue
to demand more technological expertise from faculty and staff.
For better or worse, Millennial students are bringing a wide array
of technologies to campus. Millennials prefer web-based resources
such as Facebook for forming groups and staying in contact with
friends; they turn to iTunes and downloadable media sources for
entertainment, and use RateMyProfessors.com and Wikipedia.org
as academic resources. Many students maintain blogs through sites
such as LiveJournal and Blogger, and read other blogs for breaking
news and updates in specific areas of interest.
students are constantly wired and connected. Their activities
revolve around their cell phones, iPods, TVs, and gaming consoles.
They learned how to create Power Point presentations in junior
high and are frequently surprised when their professors do not
lecture with Power Point. Jones (2002)indicated that 72% of all students check their email daily, and
26% of college students use instant messaging on an average day.
A similar survey in 2005 found that 83% of adults in the 18-29
age range participate in online activities (Demographics, 2007).
surprisingly, technology shows up in students' academic and personal
lives. Jones (2002) found that 46% of students report that email
allows them to express ideas to professors they otherwise would
not express in person, 19% say they communicate more with professors
via email than in person, and 73% report that they use the Internet
more than the library to search for information.
there anything to be gained from student use of these varying
technologies? We believe there is. Games, instant messaging, and
other forms of rapid communication help students develop fast
reflexes, a minimalist standard that helps eliminate wordiness,
and the ability to gather information quickly. They can quickly
sort through information from a variety of sources and access
information far more quickly than previous generations. Carlson
(2003) noted that "video games. immerse people in worlds and make
them rely on problem-solving skills to reach defined goals"(¶
15). He also reminds us that
"people learn best when they are entertained, when they can use
creativity to work toward complex goals, when lesson plans incorporate
both thinking and emotion, and when the consequences of actions
can be observed"(¶ 14)and
that contemporary classrooms fail to meet these educational needs.
This is not to say that college learning must always be entertaining,
but many of the elements Carlson noted can be added to current
classroom practices in ways that can increase the potential for
as new technologies emerge, many on our campuses see a decline
in the educational outcomes of student learning. Quick access
to information can lead to a lack of critical thinking about sources
and quality of information, as well as an inability to "mine for
data;" many students will likely click one or two pages into a
Website, but no further. Students regularly use Websites and blogs
to post their online diaries, not only revealing dangerous and
illegal behaviors, but opening themselves up to privacy and safety
concerns. Bugeja (2006) has dubbed this type of critical thinking
"'interpersonal intelligence,' or the ability to discern when,
where, and for what purpose technology may be appropriate or inappropriate"(¶ 28).For
the purpose of this article, we will group the negative behaviors
associated with technology under the "interpersonal intelligence"
Students Where They Are
reality is that technology and its applications on college campuses
is not going away. Cohen and Rosenzweig (2006) remind us that
technology has long been an issue on campuses, citing the example
of allowing calculators in math classrooms. Because accurate information
can be quickly found, questions of pedagogy may come up as we
discuss the value of memorizing facts as opposed to critical investigations
of the meanings of those facts. While we do not necessarily advocate
for a complete overhaul of the use of technology, we do suggest
that it is worth looking at ways to help reward the positive values
of technology while teaching students how to avoid the negatives.
the most important way we can help students learn is to return
to the idea of advising as teaching. Academic advisors may not
teach in classrooms, but part of our job is to teach students
how to negotiate the world outside of the classroom. When we meet
with students, we should model good behavior by turning off our
radios, phone ringers, or computer speakers. Further avenues for
modeling good behavior can come in our own communications with
students. We need to make sure that the answers we provide are
correct and properly spelled. Advisors should not be overly familiar
with students; we should address them in face-to-face conversations
and email replies courteously and professionally. We should use
teachable moments to reinforce the grammar, spelling, and contextual
expectations we have for email and instant messaging.
is a positive use of technology that allows a student sitting
alone in the middle of the night to access important information.
Including straightforward information online can help students
who need to access information such as how to withdraw from a
class. This on-demand information is in no way meant to replace
individual advising for students, but it can ease immediate anxieties
prior to an advising session.
advising can take several different forms. Podcasting is one way
to connect with students.( 3 ) Podcasts and
online video can act as a way to reach students who are unable
to attend information sessions. Information accessed through these
techniques can help students refresh their understanding of the
policies they heard at orientation. CNN reports that some instructors
ask students to download films to their video-capable iPods to
watch out of class (Rural, 2006). Other professors post audio
podcasts with answers to the week's most asked questions. ( 4 )
Advising through the use of instant messaging has also become
popular on some campuses. IM advisors can help students with immediate
questions receive correct information when they need it.
advisors can take heart in the fact that they are not alone in
learning how to use technology effectively. Many advising units
have enlisted the help of faculty and campus resources, such as
the library, in technological instruction. Advisors can develop
training seminars to understand the technologies students bring
with them to campus, and to find collaborative ways to meet the
students half way by teaching them to use the technologies appropriately..
Libraries are ideal locations to help teach students effective
research skills.( 5 ) Instructors can incorporate
appropriate technology into classrooms. Syracuse University and
the University of Washington have teamed up with the John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to establish a Website called
the Credibility Commons http://credibilitycommons.org/ that is designed to help Web users filter through the massive
amounts of online information to determine credible sources. Instructors,
advisors, and librarians can work together to help students not
only learn what online credibility is, but help them find resources
that will help them make wise decisions about the references they
goal of this paper is not to sway advisors over to the dark side
of technology. Rather, we want advisors to consider how technology
can shape our responses to students. Technology should not be
used on campus just because it is available; rather, conscious
decisions must be made to be sure that it fills appropriate pedagogical
concerns (Moneta, p. 7).
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