Friday, July 11, 2008

Ask a Millennial: "Four Ways to Reach Millennial Students in the Classroom"

Our first official question comes from Mitch ( about reaching millennials in the classroom.
I am writing for advice on reaching the millennials in the classroom. This is particularly a pain point for me, since I am a millennial myself. Any input you have is very helpful.
Well Mitch, here's my answer:
As a person who has served on both sides of the spectrum (student and professor), I will offer "Four Ways to Reach Millennial Students in the Classroom".
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 1 - USE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
I define "student engagement activities" as small groups, in-class panel discussions, service learning, skits, blogs, wikis, and other activities. Millennials are taking many classes, they are involved in extra curricular activities, and are working AT THE SAME TIME. As a result, we have to keep these students awake during class. (I don't know about your teaching style, but I require students to attend class during every class session. This requires engaging activities that keep them awake and provide them with a closer relationship with the class material.) I use all of the above activities and I RARELY have students who fall asleep in class.
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 2 - POST-GRADUATION WORLD APPLICATION
Millennials actively engage themselves with course material that has "post-graduation" (real world) application. This generation wants instant gratification. For example, almost 75% of these students work jobs that require their attention for more than 20+ hours a week. They work to satisfy their needs and wants, which include cell phone bills, new ipod wants/needs, itunes downloads, GAS, college beverages, etc. This drive to have instant gratification applies in the classroom environment as well. For example, when a new concept is introduced in the classroom, these millennial students want to know how this will help them in the future. Make sure that you show these students exactly how they will use the classroom material in their post-graduation world.
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 3 - BE ENTHUSIASTIC
Professors/teachers - Try to exude enthusiasm in the classroom environment! If you are not excited about the material that you are teaching, the students will not be excited about the material that they are "learning". Millennials spent their lives watching Sesame Street, Camp Anawana, Salute Your Shorts, You Can't Do That On Television, What Would You Do, Sisqo's Dance Show on MTV, and Real World - they need stimulation! Therefore, be enthusiastic about your course content!
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 4 - USE TECHNOLOGY!
Reach millennials where they are - on the internet! Use an instant messenger to stay in contact with your students (I use yahoo IM). Join a social networking website. I would suggest The career services office on my campus says that many employers are searching linkedin for entry-level candidates.
Use your college or university's content management system (WebCT or Blackboard). I use blackboard to reduce my carbon footprint (i.e. - killing trees). I post the syllabus, assignments, announcements, and I require the students to interact with each other via the message board. In addition, I give the students their speech grades on blackboard via the grading rubric tool. This keeps the students accountable for their course grade by checking blackboard daily.
What a wonderful question Mitch! Everyone - Let me know what you think!
Also, please remember to submit your question for the "Ask a Millennial Question" before next Friday.
Have a great weekend!


  1. This is great! Thank you for posting this! I will share it with my Twitter followers.

  2. Thanks Amy! I am actually thinking of revealing my identity soon. Please let me know what you think.


  3. Yes, you should get credit for your ideas. I have been "out" for a long time. :)


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