Millennials. I have written about, participated in workshops about, designed and facilitated training on millennials, and watched my own three millennial daughters over the years. Understanding millennials is a fascinating and valuable conversation to have as we consider who our learners are to ensure that our practices reach them.

I watched my 23 year old daughter with some of her engineering classmates this weekend in a study group at our home. As peered across the room watching them with their laptops and their smartphones, along with a few iPods even, I was consciously aware of the amazing multi-tasking capabilities and constant information exchange of these young digital does tech affect you

A recent conversation with a colleague about our 21st century learners sparked some ideas that I want to share with others in terms of our millennials learners. These learners were born between 1980 and 2000 and have never known a world without the internet. They are known as “Generation Y” or “Digital Natives” or the “Net Generation”. Their main characteristics are:

  • tech savvy
  • visual
  • creative
  • value teamwork
  • multi-taskers
  • socially conscious
  • want learning to be student-centered and fun.

As we think about how to connect our teaching practices with our millennial generation, consider some of these characteristics.

Now as we begin to look at Generation Z, those born between 1995-2010, we see other characteristics arise that are important to understand. These college students have grown up in a recession and view the world with responsibility in social change, independence, and realistic views about college and following careers, while having creative and innovative mindsets.

Key resources:

  • Millennial Students: Insights From Generational Theory and Learning Science, by Michele DiPietro.
  • Why Don’t My Students Think I’m Groovy?: The New “R”s for Engaging Millennial Learners by Christy Price.
  • Pew Research Center
  • New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain, by Todd Zakrajsek and Terry Doyle (written for students, but a great read for educators, too!)
  • Generation Z Goes to College, by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace