Web 2.0 and its use in the workplace continues to be in the news, discussed on blogs, and generally guessed about as we work to determine what the next important step is in the use of technology. While we think about tomorrow and how we will meet the needs of those coming into the workplace, it is also interesting to note the changes in technology use by the younger set and whether we are really preparing them to work in the new world.
The motley crew in the photo below are my nieces and nephews (please don’t let them know I have this photo on the web – I have favorite aunt status with some that I don’t want to lose) who are all now in their 20’s except for the tall fellow on the left who is 31. Despite the range of ages from just turning 20 to the grand old age of 29, they have some things in common.
- They’ve all had cell phones since their teens or in some cases pre-teens
- They all use laptops/notebooks, not desktops
- They spend as much or more time text messaging than they do talking on their phones
- They use IM/Chat when they aren’t talking on the phone or text messaging
- They watch very little television in comparison to what my generation did at their age
- They are proof to me that their generation thinks, communicates and collaborates differently
Another experience I had about 30 years ago tells a tale about younger generations growing up with different experiences. While taking a much needed after-Thanksgiving-dinner nap, I was tapped on the shoulder, awaking to a two year old’s face about six inches from mine – my oldest nephew, Nathan. Once I got his face in focus, I asked what he needed. He handed me a computer game called Merlin that my brother owned, and asked in a very clear sentence, “Nina, will you re-program this for me?”
Once I pushed the buttons he needed pushed, I sat back and wondered just how smart this kid was. He is 33 now and still as smart, but I think just about any 2 year old born since the computer has become personal, grew up with similar needs.
While I digress about family, my focus of this posting is how our education system has or hasn’t kept up with the needs of its students during the same time. My guess has been that it isn’t keeping up – confirmed for me by the results of a survey delivered via video clip created by Michael Wesch and his Digital Ethnography students.
The survey indicates that we have a long way to go to integrate technology into the classroom. As time moves on and future generations go through school and graduate into the workforce, will we be ready for them in the workplace? How will we engage them beyond the monthly paycheck?