If your teaching in the 21st century, your students most likely belong to the digital generation. In this lesson, we'll provide you with a general overview of how to appeal to and engage members of the digital generation in the classroom.
The Digital Generation
Screens, speed, and information. These three words define how students in the 21st century are used to interacting with the world. These students, sometimes referred to as the digital generation, are those who are growing up connected to the world around them through smartphones, tablets, and computers. The result of this hyperconnectivity is that your students will most likely have a different kind of learning experience than you did when you were in school. That's why it's important that you understand how they interact with the world and learn, in order to teach them more effectively.
Members of the digital generation thrive on creative and engaging activities, diverse sources of information, and a more energetic classroom environment. This lesson will help you understand the digital generation and how to adapt and target your teaching approaches to students' needs.
Creative & Engaging Activities
Members of the digital generation are, or have been, exposed to almost constant stimulation from a variety of sources, including smartphones, tablets, televisions, and computers. By aiming to provide equally stimulating activities, you can avoid the risk of losing student engagement and interest in the classroom.
Though this may seem a momentous task, engaging your students just requires some creative lesson planning. If your lessons are based on hands-on, interesting activities that require different skills and thought processes, your students may not miss their digital devices as much throughout the school day.
Designing lessons that fully engage your students doesn't have to be an impossible task. As long as your lessons are based on student-driven learning, you'll attain some level of engagement. The digital generation must be involved in every stage of the learning process in order to be fully engaged, rather than sitting at their desks listening to lectures.
Diverse Sources of Information
Computers, smartphones, tablets, and telephone screens are all sources of information. These sources of information may not always be useful (such as an exciting game or a funny online video), but they're a source of information nonetheless, one that the digital generation may prefer to a textbook.
Students today expect to learn from a variety of different sources, including books and digital devices. As such, strive to include a variety of informational sources in your classroom. For example, instead of having students just read about the Revolutionary War from a textbook, have them watch a video about the war. Or, instead of writing their spelling words five times in a row, have them play a spelling game on a tablet.
Not only will students derive more enjoyment from the learning experience, they'll be learning from sources with which they're already familiar, sources they're likely to have at home. The classroom doesn't always have to be a place for them to unplug, but instead a place where they're plugged into truly educational information.
Being constantly plugged in from morning until night is associated with a certain frenetic energy that nearly every member of the digital generation experiences, leaving them easily excitable and incredibly energetic. As such, you can't expect them to just turn that energy off and learn in a more traditional way, though those ways were effective for students of previous generations.
While it's not unreasonable to expect or promote periods of calm throughout the school day, aim to infuse the learning environment with as much energy and excitement as possible in order to keep students interested in the learning process. Students can also benefit from a high-energy teacher that complements their own sense of vitality.
One approach that helps to focus students on their lessons, especially while doing independent work, is to play background music, such as some contemporary, upbeat instrumentals. Background music can not only infuse the classroom environment with energy, but also stimulate student thinking and work.
Let's review. The digital generation includes those students who are growing up connected to the world around them through smartphones, tablets, and computers. Members of the digital generation thrive on creative and engaging activities, diverse sources of information, and a more energetic classroom environment. When teaching the digital generation, aim for some creative lesson planning based on hands-on, student-driven learning activities that require different skills and thought processes. Additionally, strive to include a variety of informational sources in your classroom, like books and digital devices. And while it's not unreasonable to expect some moments of calm throughout the school day, aim to infuse the learning environment with as much energy and excitement as possible in order to keep students interested in the learning process. One approach that can help to focus students on their lessons, especially while doing independent work, is to play background music, which can not only infuse the classroom environment with energy, but also stimulate student thinking and work.