Generation Y

June 8, 2009

If you are involved with students in KS3+ then you are dealing with a cohort of Generation Y (1977-1997). Research carried out by Rockler-Gladen in 2006 shined a light on this set of individuals, concluding the following characteristics from a range of research:

  • Generation Y is extremely comfortable with technology
  • Generation Y is cynical
  • Generation Y has a non-existent attention span
  • Generation Y loves consumerism
  • Generation Y is more diverse than previous generations
  • Generation Y is used to chaos

Looking at all thse points, it is clear to me that technology can bind itself to each one to further learning.

The first point is fairly clear to anyone and provides a setting that can be built on for the other points.


Being cynical means to be:

  1. Like or characteristic of a cynic; distrusting or disparaging the motives of others.
  2. Showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one’s actions, esp. by actions that exploit the scruples of others.
  3. Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.

To drive students away from being resistant to an activity, let them change it to what that suits them. Let each student have a differentiated way of performing a task. Doing this in a way that does not involve technology requires depth of planning and would traditionally require a needless rigid structure. Using technology allows a student to go where they want with something as long as the range offered to them is diverse and similar to technology they are already used to using such as instant messaging, visual learning and all other things from the Web 2.0 spectrum (post coming soon on this ambiguous term).

Attention span

Always an issue in learning. Have you ever looked at learners to see when they are they pay the most attention? It is typically when in a social setting, consuming media, both on a subject of interest. Its almost tricking learners into learning (at first anyway). You can see this evident in preschool activities, why leave this idea behind just because the learner is older? Just change the context. There are plenty of learning platforms that bind to facebook, for example.


This is something that is very clear, a great post over at Staff Writer gives a good insight on this theory. Why not use twitter to research something? Ask their friends on Facebook a research question? Browse youtube for a videoblog on a topic? All of these are routed in the task at hand, but utilising consumer social mediums to divulge this information.


Differentiation, its something all educators are used to. Using technology allows the diverse nature of a group of students to its advantage. If there is one thing that is true of modern on-line and off-line technologies, there is more than one way to skin a cat. If the task is research, there are hundreds of different media types, billions of different resources all instantly available, where will they take it?

Note: All of this is very possible as long at the objective of the activity is always very clear to the learner, perhaps refered to as an end state to achieve?


Well, is this not something that is truer now than ever before, especially when talking social mediums, chaos is seen in many forms. Perhaps something in the comments on how this sub-point can be built upon from what is discussed above?