A framework for millennial students

One purpose of this blog is to generate some increased interest in the research that I’m working on at the moment.  Of course it might not generate the sort of interest that I really want, but that’s the Internet for you…

In any case, in the spirit of an open-source community, I’m making this post, and the framework attached to it, available under a creative commons licence in the hope that others will pick it up and possibly work with it.  Creative commons is a framework for sharing material.  The creative commons licence that I’ve chosen for this post (including the framework attached to it) is called ‘ Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike’ .  In simple terms this means that for non-commercial purposes you can use it freely, and make derivative works if you wish, providing you share your work with others, and providing you credit me as the originator of the framework.  That isn’t hugely inconsistent with the way that research is disseminated traditionally, in that I’m publicising it and inviting others to comment it and/or build on it; I’m using a blog very much in the same way that, in the past, a university might have printed working papers covering research in progress that hadn’t (yet) been published in a more formal setting.

With some support from the Higher Education Academy, I’ve been looking over the past couple of years at the way that students born from around 1982 onwards relate to technology.  I use the term ‘millennials’ to describe this group; please look further down the blog at my earlier post on generational issues if you want to read more of the background to the term.  This is a topic of some interest within higher education, because this generation accounts for almost all our undergraduate students and a high proportion of our postgraduates, and it directly influences teaching and learning policies.  But it’s also increasingly a topic of interest for employers; I’m particularly mindful of the 2008 Management Today survey, which highlighted the level of mutual incomprehension between baby-boomer and generation-X managers and the staff now entering the workforce.

I’ve developed a framework to represent the different factors that influence millenials’ use of information – particularly in the context of higher education, but I’d be really interested to hear more about how applicable it might be in the world or work.  If you’ve been at a conference with me over the last two years you might well have seen this framework before.  In any case, it’s attached here as a PDF file – you will need the Adobe Acrobat reader, which you almost certainly have, on your computer to see it.  The boxes in the bottom half of the diagram reflect various factors influencing millennial students.  Those in the top half, with wording in italics, are quotes from students (mostly early 20s and postgraduates, as it happens) in a focus group.

 Millennial framework 2009

Finally, I did notice that I’ve used ‘licence’ in the text above, which is the correct spelling in British English when you’re using the word as a noun, but that the standard text pasted below uses the American spelling ‘license’ – even in the England and Wales version that I’ve adopted.  Sorry.


Creative Commons License
A framework for millennial students by Martin Rich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.



2 Responses to “A framework for millennial students”

  1. HD4020 Says:

    Interesting blog, but it’s missing an important part of the equation: Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). The vast majority of Millennials are the offspring of GenJones parents, and it is difficult to overestimate the importance of parental influences on the development of generational personalities.

    Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press’ annual Trend Report forecast the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. Here’s a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones: http://generationjones.com/2009latest.html

    It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. Many experts now believe it breaks down more or less this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978

  2. martinrich Says:

    Thanks for this. I’m sticking with the Strauss and Howe classifications because they divide the generations into convenient, and equal sized, chunks and because I don’t want to get hung up about where to draw the boundaries. Googling generation Jones and specifying pages from the UK led me (among other places) to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1477344/Generation-Jones-is-given-a-name-at-last.html , and also to the Carat work referred to in the article

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