Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why the Net Gen Rhetoric is Dangerous

In his article, Making Way for the Millennials: How Today's Students are Shaping Higher Education Space, Persis Rickes relies on the largely unfounded claims about the net generation to argue for re-designing campus physical spaces. Here are some examples:

"Given their comfort level with technology and penchant for team-oriented behavior, Millennials are substantively changing instructional space—as well as the very nature of instruction. Because today’s students socialize, study, and collaborate in groups, the learning environment is no longer place-bound. This translates to a need for multipurpose spaces for group activities, including small group/seminar rooms and blended social/academic spaces. As veteran multitaskers, students do not view spaces as single purpose in nature."

"Because Millennials prefer to learn and work in teams, small group rooms are needed that can be used as breakout space during class or for study and project work after class has ended. "

"To adapt to a new generation of students, the library has become another partner in collaborative learning. Given the penchant of Millennials to multitask, it frequently serves as a quasi-student union space—and vice versa. "

Rickes relies largely on the work of Howe & Strauss which has been critiqued elsewhere in this blog. I do not question the need for learning spaces that are fit for purpose and that meet the needs of today's learners but let's base our planning decisions on what we know about our learners not on questionable claims about an entire generation.

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