The career is extinct
When I started as a software developer in the 80s, there was still something called a “career”. Whenever a friend or co-worker retires after a lengthy tenure in the same industry, I recognize that the concept of a career is one step closer to extinction. It’s no wonder that today’s millennial generation – those born since the early 80s – are notorious for job-hopping. This generation has been told since they were kids that they should expect to change roles and industries up to a dozen times. This, among other things, has set some trends that all educators need to be aware of.
Be quick, competent, and transparent
It used to take about two years to train up a software developer. Today, the average job tenure of twenty-somethings is reportedly between two and three years. We obviously need transfer skills more quickly! By focusing on immediate practical skills, and by leveraging technology we can equip students and employees to add value in months rather than years. For educators, millennials’ habitual use of gadgets and electronics is good and bad news. While virtually no time needs to be spend “teaching” the use of information technology, students have high technical expectations of their educators. If you’re new to a particular technology you’re using to teach, just be up-front with the class about it – millennials respect authenticity.
Facilitate a dynamic environment
This generation is used to learning and working in groups, with information at their fingertips. This leads to a clear trend toward co-operative learning and facilitation rather than teaching. The classroom (virtual or physical) is now a place to set expectations, practice, and connect, with information being acquired outside of the classroom. Shorter attention spans and a self-serve culture make it necessary to lay out expectations and move quickly to hands-on work. This generation views everything – including education – as a commodity. They will quickly tune you out and engage in something more interesting if it’s perceived that you’re wasting their time.
Finally, millennials view academic misconduct with much less stigma than previous generations. To address this, it is critical that rules and expectations are clearly laid out, along with related consequences. If expectations and rules are communicated clearly, if the benefits of learning the information are “sold” up-front, and if classroom time is efficient and dynamic, educators stand a good chance of keeping up with the challenging trends set by adult millennial students.