After seeing the Times front cover “The Me Me Me Generation” while at my family reunion this past weekend, we began discussing what defines a generation.
Social generations are cohorts of people who were born in the same date range and share similar cultural experiences. For instance, Baby Boomers were the generation born following World War II during a time marked by an increase in birth rates generally from 1925 through 1945; however, the date ranges and characteristics change depending on the person describing them.
As a proud member of Generation Y, aka Generation Me or the Millennials Generation, I was forced to defend the critique that my generation is narcissistic. I highlighted one of our positive aspects; we are marked by our familiarity and expertise with communication, media, and digital technologies. This skill set could be the key to redesigning the way we think about the school day. In fact, one of the strategies that is beginning to take hold in schools across the country is ripe for leadership from people with just that mix of skills – blended learning.
Blended learning is generally applied to the practice of using both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students.
As I researched the concept more, I found a great example of how ELT and blended learning work hand in hand to redesign the school day. Aspire Public Schools, a network of charter schools in California, are an example of how technology can enhance learning. On average, Aspire schools have an additional hour of instruction each day than the traditional California public schools and ten additional instructional days. The schools use a model in which students rotate through a number of stations in the longer class period, one of the stations is with an adaptive computer program and one is in a small group with the teacher. Watch the video below to learn more:
Aspire schools are a great example of what is possible. The question is whether blended learning will become the norm. The Clayton Christensen Institute seems to think so. Last week they released a report defining blended learning through the lens of the theory of disruptive innovation.
My hope is that through schools like these, Generation Z will have, in part, the technological skills, knowledge, and drive to close the achievement and opportunity gap. I also hope they have some nicer nicknames — perhaps the “Scholars Generation”? I like the sound of that.