Sidneyeve Matrix of Queen's University discusses new tools for student engagement.

Summer Faculty Institute

Engaging today's tech-forward students focus of UD SFI speakers

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9:47 a.m., June 15, 2012--Approximately 140 faculty members signed up for the University of Delaware’s Summer Faculty Institute, which was held from May 29 to June 1 and focused on ways to engage today's tech-forward students. The number included a record high number of online participants.

The kick-off event was a keynote presentation by Sidneyeve Matrix, National Scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Media and Film at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her presentation on “Looking Ahead: New Tools for Student Engagement” set the tone for the institute.

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Matrix presented her findings on how to design learning experiences using the digital tools that students have today, such as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

“When I started to socialize my classes, I had an increase in their final grade of almost 10 percent, so I can’t argue with that. And it’s exactly what I wanted to see,” Matrix said. “After that I became an evangelist for educational technology because that 8-9 percent made me a very happy professor.”

According to Matrix, we are in the “perfect storm of innovation in higher ed and educational technology.”

“Student expectations and needs now include frictionless sharing, instantaneity, personalization and customization,” she said. “To reach the students of today, we need to meet these needs.”

A similar message, given by Mk Haley, associate executive producer in the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, centered around new expectations of student teamwork in “Incenting Innovation and Collaboration Across Teams.”

“For the first time in history we have four generations in the workforce with completely different points of view of what should be done and how it should be done,” Haley said.

Success today has become massively collaborative and is supported by both emerging tools and mindsets.

“Generation Y -- the millennials -- will make up 47 percent of your work force by 2014. They are almost 100 percent of your students now,” she said.

According to Haley, the millennials have a completely different set of skills, formative experiences and ideas about what they want to do and how to do it.

For these individuals, she said, “The traditional concept of a top-down, one-way communications strategy is dead.”

Haley added, “Although universities are set up in this type of hierarchy, students and companies today are not working in that model, so it is frustrating and confusing to folks.”

Some of the defining characteristics of millennials are that they are 

  • Global,
  • Wired,
  • Mobile,
  • Interdependent,
  • Quickly bored,
  • Attracted to large social movements,
  • Like mentors, and
  • Impatient but highly adaptable.

According to Haley, “Today’s students are used to diversity. They grew up in a world that was global. They not only have peers that are international, but they connect to diverse people online.”

“The biggest differences from other generations are formative experiences. Baby boomers were shaped by the big three TV networks, civil rights, gay rights, the cold war and Vietnam,” Haley said.

Generation Y has been shaped by “the Internet, the Iraq war, reality TV, cell phones, gaming, Columbine and terrorism. These experiences helped define them,” she said.

A Stanford University research report done about 12 years ago identified the five qualities of an outstanding team:

  • Positive outlook, 
  • Confidence, 
  • Respect,
  • Cooperation, and 
  • Flexibility.

“The milleniums naturally have these traits and come to you already predisposed to contribute as an outstanding team member,” Haley said.

To learn more about the institute or view the recordings, visit the Summer Faculty Institute website.

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