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Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Millennial Age: An Education Evolution

JENNIFER WU/ AGGIE
JENNIFER WU/ AGGIE

prokos_opMillennials may be on the path to becoming the smartest generation. We’re connected to an unprecedented amount of information, but the question still remains: How do we learn?

Technology has challenged and transformed the way we learn. Institutions are constantly looking to further customize learning experiences through a plethora of exploratory programs. In essence, the increasing popularity of online education and collaborative learning projects coupled with the dominant, cutting-edge culture of Silicon Valley has revolutionized the education experience.

According to two education experts working with NYU, our everyday experiences affect how we think and process information. As a result, institutions and educators are forced to adjust their means of instructing students.

Over the last 15 years, online programs have become highly developed. Millennials have learned how to use technology to their benefit in nearly every facet of life, and as a result, many are content with receiving formal education through the Internet.

Using online programs is far more interactive than reading from a textbook. These programs require students to participate in virtual modules and create videos and presentations that are shared through online course management systems. UC Davis’ Smartsite is an example of such a system.

The NYU experts also found that learning retention skyrocketed when education was collaborative, rather than individualized.

Their study suggests that integrating discussion groups into a learning environment yielded 50 percent retention of a lesson’s material. A more hands-on, “practice-by-doing” method produced a 75 percent retention of material. The most successful procedure for retention was achieved when students were put in a teaching position. When students control their educational process, engross themselves in the material and have to find their own ways to present material, learning retention reached a high of 90 percent. All of these numbers are significantly higher than the 10 percent rate for reading and the meager 5 percent for static lectures.

Incubator programs, also known as accelerators, have become more and more important to Millennials in the business and tech scenes.

Incubators supply young entrepreneurs and their small businesses with mentorship and practical training. In many cases, these investors provide small businesses with workspace and connections to investor networks. Incubators essentially assist young masterminds who don’t yet have sufficient capital or manpower realize their goals. The programs refine business plans and ideas, help design quality products, aid in launching projects and assist in sustaining brands. They’re called ‘accelerators’ because they’re intended to speed up the growth and prosperity of new enterprises. Currently, these programs are largely based in the San Francisco area and are led by investment businesses.

Requirements for entering an incubator include submitting a detailed business plan. Screening committees for the programs are rather selective. They want to assist and cultivate enterprises with the greatest chances for success.

Millennial education is no longer a matter of merely reading a book or listening to a lecture, and then expecting us to apply those teachings in the workforce. Customized, interactive and individual experiences like those found in incubators are key to our learning process and future success.

Whether we realize it or not, UC Davis educators do a pretty good job of customizing our learning experience. I’ve taken countless courses in which I’ve devised lesson plans and taught the material to my fellow classmates. A large number of courses also include discussion sections. While sometimes these are not as effective as they could be for students, sections are at least designed to foster an environment where we can confer for the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of lessons.

Tools like Smartsite and MyUCDavis have also enhanced the learning process by making complementary materials, such as sample work and supplementary reading or podcasts, readily available.

Of course, Millennial education will continue to change in coming years as a result of our evolving environment and the ever increasing number of Millennials enrolling in higher education. Our own growth and contributions will have an extensive and inevitable impact on the next generation. The possibilities are endless for the future of education.

You can reach HAYLEY PROKOS at hprokos@ucdavis.edu or on Twitter @haroulii14.

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