Reaching The New Learning Generation Through Apps

When students get to class, they usually first check Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook, before opening their notes or reviewing last week’s class. Maybe some of them use GroupMe to see whether there are any projects due. Maybe some others share Pinterest ideas for their upcoming projects. During class, professors often see students looking down into their lap, doing what is called the “under-desk” texting. Some students even place their backpacks on their desk, so that they can do the upgraded version, “in-backpack” text. After class, maybe some students use Yelp to find the nearest restaurant, Uber to get them there, or some sort of public transit App to search for the most timely bus routes.

Not only are those popular apps prevalent in students’ lives, but the apps also become verbs in their language. “I’ll Venmo you $10” means that $10 will be virtually wired through the phone. So, as an educator who is creating teaching materials, we definitely want to take this new trend into consideration before we design the curricula for piloting either blended learning or online learning courses. According to Ms. Kircher’s most recent article on TechInsider, she points out the most popular 16 apps ranked by today’s college students. I’ve organized these apps in the table below:

Social network apps are undisputed dominators on this list because many people communicate through apps. Teachers could work with Instructional Designer to set up a safe and effective virtual environment to facilitate the communication process. Especially, for those organizations whose teaching materials contain confidential information such as patient record history in medical school, instructor may consider leveraging the secure online discussion capability provided by their Learning Management System (LMS). It is always a good idea to separate academic discussion activities from personal social network. However,

The other three groups of beloved apps (Music, Video, and Photo sharing) show us that multimedia content is the most appealing stimuli to the millennial generation when they are receiving and disseminating their creative ideas. How do we use this information to better our classrooms? Here are some ideas:

  • Record Khan Academy style video clips and share it on your LMS to let students watch your videos before lecture.
  • Encourage students to ask questions and answer each other’s questions in an online forum.
  • Suggest related videos based on your student’s video-watching history. For example, if your student is looking up many video clips related to quadratic equations, it may mean that he’s struggling in that area, or mean that he he’s interested in quadratic equations.
  • Take advantage of to congregate multiple learners and help them share their ideas virtually.

Dr. Prober from Stanford Medical School shared his pedagogical philosophy that meeting learners where they are is imperative to educators. Not only do I agree with him, I also think that speaking the same “digital language” and integrating popular modes of delivering knowledge will become imperative in the future.

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