The Disconnect between College Students and Aging Faculty

Millennial Students

Millennial Students

The millennial students are those born after 1980. How they communicate, collaborate, and learn is much more digital than older faculty can appreciate.

These differences create the disconnect between college students and aging faculty.

Brian Solis, a digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist says, “For the millennial, digital is their DNA.”

It is this detail that separates millennial students from older faculty members. As a result, we see a split in our colleges between those faculty who “get” this connected generation and those who do not or will not.

The young millennial students and Generation Z behind them are in fact wired differently.

Consider some of the differences between the older and younger generation as pointed out by Brian Solis.

Differences Between the Older and Younger Generation

Comparison Between Older and Younger Generation image

Comparison Between Older & Younger Generation

As Faculty Age, We Should Not Become Irrelevant.

These young students started life differently from us. Will we refuse to see the world through any other way than our own perspective?

In a study by JWT entitled GEN Z: Digital in their DNA, we see just how different the younger generations are.

While some of us are still wondering if social media is a fad, we learn from the study that almost half of Generation Z feel their real social life happens on social networks.

Over half feel that it is more convenient to talk to friends online than in person.

Older Faculty Must Learn How to Evolve from Analog to Digital.

The millennials and generation Z were born with digital in their DNA.

Engagement strategies, learning strategies, and faculty-student interaction need to be more digital to meet student expectations. Students now prefer “screen face” to “face-to-face” interaction. Those screens include laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

What are ways that faculty members can change to meet the needs of the younger generation? Please add your comments at the top of this post.

You may also be interested in reading

The Disconnect Between Aging Management and the Younger Workforce (Brian Solis)

New Digital Influencers: The Coming Youthquake (Brian Solis)

The First Thing You Do to Engage Students in an Online Class


The first thing is to build the student's confidence. Photo by Microsoft.

The first thing you do to engage students in an online class is to build their confidence

If you’re an online instructor, your goal is to give students the confidence they need to succeed.

The first thing you should do is to give students a meaningful, but easy assignment.

The first assignment I give students in my online class is a syllabus quiz.

This assignment serves multiple purposes.

  1. It assures that the student reads the syllabus.
  2. It makes sure the student understands the course requirements.
  3. It helps the instructor to identify unclear comments in the syllabus.
  4. It teaches the student how to take an online quiz.
  5. It builds the student’s confidence.

What is Motivation? Ideas for the Classroom.

College Student using Social Media

Generally, we talk about motivating students in terms of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is concerned with academic achievement and refers to the students’ perception of participating in tasks for reasons such as grades, rewards, competition, and evaluation by others.

Intrinsic motivation is what social cognitivists prefer to call self motivation because they believe that individuals develop motivation from their self-efficacy perceptions rather than from the task itself (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1994).

Many ideas for the classroom have been developed to motivate students. Some believe that extrinsic motivators such as grades reduce intrinsic motivation.  But there are not many colleges ready to do away with grades. One of the best ways to develop intrinsic motivation is to help students develop goals (Bandura 1986).

Maehr (1991) suggest that instructors should arrange the learning environment in such a way as to promote personal motivation.

One popular method today for motivating students is to include learning strategies using Web 2.0. What is Web 2.0? Web 2.0 are web-based services that allow people to interact in communities. These Web 2.0 services include but are not limited to Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard and social media networks. Many of these services are free.

The most popular social media tools are blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. These new teaching methods are powerful ways to engage students in the classroom content. Teachers use strategies for learning with social media to motivate students to academic achievement. Teachers are using social media tools to develop innovative ideas for the classroom. The old, tired methods of working with students can be updated and energized with new learning strategies using social media.

The social media strategy for the classroom that has been researched the most is blogs. Blogs can help students develop self-regulation strategies by helping students to set goals and to record their progress toward their goals. Blogs are a great tool for helping students learn to summarize and analyze content. Blogs help students develop their critical thinking skills and their writing skills.

Young people love social media and older people are jumping on the bandwagon. Education for students is more fun using the tools that students use and enjoy. Nielsen reports that people spend more time on Facebook than anywhere else on the web. Another statistic of the report showed that Americans spend 23% of their time online using blogs or social networks.  Why not explore these strategies for learning? Yes, there are some precautions for both faculty and students. But social media opens the door to teaching methods and learning strategies that need to be researched and explored.

How have you used social media in the classroom to motivate your students? I appreciate your comments.

  • (Eric Mack)
  • Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundation of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Maehr, M. L. (1991, April). Changing the schools: A word to school leaders about enhancing student investment in learning. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.
  • Schunk, D. H., & Zimmerman, B. J. (1994). Self-regulation of learning and performance. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.