One of the characteristics of today’s learner is that they have short attention spans. They receive information quickly and in small, bite-sized pieces. Think of the apps they use on their phones. With Twitter they are limited to 140 characters. When using Snapchat, they connect with their friends throughout the day by sending fun photos and videos that are available for a short period of time and then disappear. Instagram is another app to share photos of anything and everything that they love with the click of a button.
I think what makes all of this appealing to a millennial student is that it is short and sweet! The speed of each of these apps allows them to stay up-to-date on what their friends are doing, what is happening in the world, celebrity gossip, and just about anything else you can think of.
So, when we are in our classrooms and we lecture for 60 minutes and expect the student to stay engaged, we start running into problems. We can’t expect a generation that has immediate access to information from around the world to sit quietly in a classroom and learn. Yes, I know that what we have to share is critical information for the students’ success, but what we need to learn to do is break down that content into small, snack-sized bits of information. Give the students a bit of information and then incorporate an activity, a video, a demo, hands-on practice, or group discussion, something that allows them to apply the information. Be sure to keep these activities “snackable” as well. Then, when finished with that bit of information, move on to the next bit of content.
For those of you who are using Milady’s MindTap, the good news is, it is already set up for you this way. The Learning Path breaks each chapter into snack-sized segments. The students can read a portion of the chapter and then engage with a video, worksheet, activity, etc.