Gen Y Goes to College

We don’t read on line, we skim.

According to Michael Agger’s article in Slate, that’s how we read on the web, and he bases the claim on some interesting research. He gives guidelines about making your website appealing to audiences who don’t read, but skim. I don’t follow any of those guidelines, which explains my low readership. But then, I’m journaling, not blogging.

Also, this month’s the Atlantic Monthly asks Is Google Making Us Stupid?, which takes a media ecology approach to the web, citing the Phaedrus, McLuhan, and Mumford, among others. The article was a long column, which I had to scroll over, and which didn’t have any bullet points, and so I only skimmed! No, I read it.

The author makes the standard argument that all critics of new media do: We are losing our ability to think linearly, critically, and substantively. He concludes by saying, “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

This line, incidentally, echoes something Haraway wrote in the Cyborg Manifesto: “Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.”

We are thick in the middle of teaching Gen Y or the Millennials, which brings up some things to consider about teaching, such as:

1. Gen Y is wired, which relates to the point above about the net. Millennials are parallel processors. How do you teach parallel processors? So, what I can do to appeal to that in the classroom? Maybe record lectures?

2. How do you teach public speaking? It’s that old dilemma between forcing students into the box of linearity, or forcing them to be better producers and consumers of streams of consciousness / Facebook-style thinking. Since that’s their paradigm, how do outsiders or non-natives teach it? Students insist on bullet points on their outlines. Traditionalists insist on traditional outlines. It’s a constant struggle.

3. As an aside, their parents are “Helicopter Parents,” which totally fits with my experience.

4. I keep numbering things, instead of using bullet points in my blog.

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