Thursday, November 18, 2010

Glee, Generation Y and Tweets

Hi Followers,

Sorry for the long delay between postings but I was finishing up my Masters and I now have a 6 month old at home, so as I'm sure you can imagine, I've been quite busy. However, last night's Glee inspired me to get back into my blogging and hopefully post on a more regular basis!

What was so special about Glee last night? The episode, entitled "The Substitute", touched on a hot educational topic. How do we engage "Gen-Y" students who learn differently than generations before them? In a scene (around 28:10) between Mr. Schuster and the substitute, the latter questions Will about his teaching methods telling him that he needs to make learning more "fun" to engage his students. She tells Will that "we can't expects kids to sit up and pay attention. These kids feel special. They have a voice and if we don't listen to it, they tune us out." The characters elaborates by saying that these kids care about themselves, "if they get bored, they change their Facebook status, they're entitled to have all these emotions.. they're entitled for the world to care about them, that's what this generation is about." While I might not agree with this sentiment across the board, it is certainly true that this generation expects instantanous interaction and some say they care more about making a difference in the world than in making money. They often feel entitled and need to be engaged in authentic hands-on learning. To make her point, the substitute asks Will what he does when a kid does something really great in class, to which he replies "I praise them". She, on the other hand, tells Will, "I Tweet them about it, right there and then, and for those 30 seconds I know that that kid has a connection with me." This was an AH-HA moment for me. Yet another example of using Web 2.0 tools to engage generation Y students. But, Will's character did make a good point when he said that the job of a great teacher is to enlighten students about multiple points of view. I think that is definitely true but I don't think it's too the exclusion of reaching kids in new ways, ways that capture their limited attention span. 

The only flaw in this example is that most schools don't allow cell phones or other smart devices in the classroom, so how will the students know they've been tweeted. Maybe they will see it later, maybe not. Neverless the concept - reaching students in new technological ways - still rings true.