Monday, September 22, 2008

What do midshipman, Generation Y and the CSUN Faculty have in common?

Three members of the CSUN faculty had the opportunity to meet with midshipment and faculty from the US Naval Academy to discuss learning styles, use of technology and the implications for KM.

What we came away with...first of all...had little to do with KM or Gen Y issues. It had to do with Leadership and Critical thinking. From our experience it is rare to find an institution that emphasizes, much less teaches either of these critical life skills. After spending just a little time with these Academy students, it was clear that their education was steeped in each of these, and that they had a powerful impact on their lives. It is no wonder that the graduates from our academies are so sought after in the business world.

We have all heard about - and witnessed - how Gen Y's (born between 1980 and 1995) live via text messages and FaceBook. It is a major part of their social life and fabric. So is this impacting how they learn? What we heard from midshipmen was that they did want "information now" and they wanted it in byte size chunks. They wanted to feel connected to their peers though FaceBook (one of them has over 1000 friends on FaceBook). But we also heard that they wanted the in depth knowledge that only comes from study and reflection. They are interested in learning from those that have the relevant experience - and in listening to well told relevant stories. Traditional learning is not a "thing of the past" for Gen Y.

However, because the technology is there, and they know how to use it, they expect to be able to get information now. They expect to be able to ask anyone what they know and think - and get a quick - short response, that will allow them to act. They expect to "learn through collaboration" - not just to be told, this is the way it is, this is what you should do.

Kent Greenes, in a discussion the group summarized some of the work that he has been doing on Gen Y as:

  • They want to learn collaboratively
  • They want to have rapid access to information - and want it in a form they can use
  • They want to be recognized for what they know
  • They want to contribute

Isn't this the way we all want to learn and work?

So is there a big difference in the Gen Y's. We're not so sure. Technology has shaped their expectations - and shown what is possible. As we said above...are these expectations any different that want any other generation wants?

-Allan Crawford

1 comment:

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