How to Reach Gen M(illennials) in the Library and Classroom–A Panel Discussion

September 11, 2009 at 8:15 am 5 comments

Co-editors (Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic & Robert J. Lackie) of the book Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2009) and three of the chapter authors (Katie Elson Anderson, Patricia H. Dawson, and Diane K. Campbell) participated in a panel discussion last night. The event, sponsored by the Rutgers University–Camden’s Cappuccino Academy (a series of free public lectures delivered by Rutgers–Camden faculty members) was held at the Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ. All five panelists–library faculty members at Rutgers University and Rider University–briefly discussed their findings on this new generational cohort and how technology can and has been enriching the library and classroom experience for them.

Lead editor and chapter author Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic (Rutgers University) began the discussion by welcoming the audience, introducing the panelists, and talking about why she was so interested in co-editing and writing sections of the book, not to mention having her own personal cohort of Gen M students at home. Vibiana also provided some background on the book, which offers advice on everything from teachers joining Facebook to the pitfalls of Google searches. She mentioned that one of the most significant aspects about Gen M is that they are the first generation raised in an era of personal and real-time information sharing and provided some examples. Last but not least, she made available a discount order form for those who might be interested in purchasing a personal copy, or one for their library or school.

Co-editor and chapter author Robert J. Lackie (Rider University) spoke next, emphasizing that we need to remember, as library faculty members, to strive to satisfy all of our “customers,” and that includes Gen M students, faculty, and staff–those born in the early 1980’s to the mid-to-late 1990’s. He shared research from the book and on the Web about Millennials (aka Gen M), including a few points via presentations by Richard Sweeney, University Librarian at NJIT, to help us all better understand this unique cohort. Richard has stated that Gen M:

  • Expect/demand more choices
  • Want more personalization/customization
  • Want instant gratification
  • Like multitasking, IMing, text messaging, and collaborating online
  • Are experiential learners
  • Are open to change

Note: Library Garden bloggers interviewed Richard Sweeney, who is a recognized expert on understanding and engaging the Millennial Generation, almost three years ago and this post is still available.

Robert finished by sharing some of the witty “cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” found again in this year’s Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013, such as, “Text has always been hyper” and “Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on,” two of the 75 comments on this year’s list.

Patricia H. Dawson and Diane K. Campbell (Rider University), who co-authored Chapter 2 in the book, entitled, “Driving Fast to Nowhere on the Information Highway: A Look at Shifting Paradigms of Literacy in the Twenty-First Century,” spoke about emergent issues and challenges we face as librarians and educators while working with Gen M. They provided information comparing different types of literacy (i.e., literacy, computer literacy, and information literacy) and provided a handout/table to the audience members explaining this. They discussed how Gen M struggles with judging information for reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias because so much of the information that Gen M students find online, especially the validity of that information, is much more difficult to assess than within most print sources. They noted that there, unfortunately, are fewer “quality cues” with a lot of online information on the free Web.

Katie Elson Anderson (Rutgers University), who authored “Chapter 8: YouTube and YouTube-iness: Educating Gen M Through the Use of Online Video,” may have spoken last, but she definitely caught the attention of the audience as she discussed the extreme popularity and the educational uses of YouTube (including YouTube EDU) and several other video sites for teaching and working with Gen M. Video sites she highlighted during her talk at Barnes & Noble were the following:

As I have recently mentioned to many others, I was especially happy to announce the publication of our book on a Library Garden blog post back in July when it first became available in bookstores online (e.g., Amazon and B&N) because several Library Garden (LG) bloggers wrote chapters for the book, including a very recent new team member of LG, John LeMasney of Rider University, who co-wrote our book’s “Introduction: The Myths, Realities, and Practicalities of Working with Gen M.” OK, I know…, this is such shameless self-promotion, but I really am so proud of the LG contributors, in addition to other experts from around North America, whose hard work and diligence shine throughout our book.

By the way, here is a free PDF of the table of contents now available, listing all contributors and their chapters. We hope you enjoy reading about the above panel discussion/book talk, as well as the book itself, and we welcome your comments.




Entry filed under: Demographics, Marketing, Research. Tags: , , .

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  • 1. Marie L. Radford  |  September 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Congrats Robert, your book is making an important contribution to understanding Gen M. I look forward to reading it!

    • 2. Robert J. Lackie  |  September 13, 2009 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks, Marie–we (all of the book’s contributors) think you will find it useful and interesting! Please let us know what you think of it when you get a chance to read it.

  • 3. David Brown  |  September 14, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Hey Professor Lackie! I feel that one of the exciting things about the book relates to that idea mentioned in this post concerning students in my generation (I’m a senior) being open to change. This need for new ideas results in educators feeling that same need for change. That’s good karma, which is something that isn’t mentioned enough. By the way, as an editorial intern at Cineaste Magazine, I write reviews dealing with media. I thought that since your book dealt with my generation and media, it would be good to read it and write a review. Here it is.

  • 4. lemasney  |  September 15, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Robert, your accomplishments in this endeavor were amazing. Congratulations on a successful project, and thanks so much for letting me be a part of it.

  • 5. Robert Lackie  |  September 15, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Wow–thank you, Dave and John! Really appreciated seeing both of your comments this afternoon, not to mention reading your review, Dave–good luck with your work and reviews with Cineaste Mag. and your senior year at Rider.

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