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The Inspired Millennial Learner Influencing Instructional Change Author: Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. Motivational Life Change Coach – Distance Learning Educator Our greatest ability is to think, change and adapt the transfer of knowledge in a modern society. Since technology is ever evolving, so must our attitudes in professional development, instructional design and pedagogical research. We must be willing to actively listen, communicate and grow with each generation.

Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. The Kimberly Wiseman, Corporation 10/28/2009

Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. Influencing Instructional Change The Inspired Millennial Learner: Influencing Instructional Change First, let me apologize to all Educators. I am influenced to say a very dirty word. Not because I am tempted by the “bu·reau·cra·cy” of institutional progress, nor because of the ignorance of public opinion, but rather because we need to take a good hard look at what education means to the Inspired Millennial Learner; the learner of today. The horrifying word or “moderate academic medicine” is referred to as CHANGE! Surely, this is not a new topic to educators and most Instructional Designers, as we continue to explore inspirational learning. However, we have been blindsided through the onslaught of technology, and only repackaged aged learning ideologies. In other words, navigation in not interaction; and, interaction is not the transfer of knowledge, but rather the transfer of information. The Inspired Millennial Learner is challenging what we know about knowledge transfer, learning styles and how to best implement “impactful” instructional design. Before I can continue to explore this topic, let us first uncover what we know about “today’s new students. The Millennial Learner is best described as progressive and meaningful. Their birth years are between 1980-2000 or later. Some generational researchers refer to this learner as the Net Generation. This is not surprising as the global perspective tremendously impacts their confidence, civic duty, call for diversity and high need for personal achievement. These type of requirements are not only evident in current social networks, but in their ability to emotionally connect across technological platforms. They demand more collaborative communication and a have strong need to act on their social consciousness. Perhaps their inclusion of community, inspirational discussions and need for instant achievement, encourages education to provide full transparency in how technology is used to transfer knowledge. The question is, are we listening to the matrix of change?

Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. Influencing Instructional Change Now that we know a little bit more about our current student market, how does this impact Educational and Instructional Design? First and foremost, you need to set aside your ego to effectively influence this generation of learners. For many Educators this is a scary concept. Why? Let’s be honest, educators are taught to be the source of all knowledge, with little encouragement for student perspective. The new generation of learners see in possibilities, therefore they would honestly be blind to unidirectional instruction. Their need to seek to understand, is fueled by their own necessity to be heard. Additionally, technology delivers the content through Learning Management Systems, rather than genuinely understanding how learning is received. Again, the transfer of knowledge is confused with the transference of information. The Inspired Millennial Learner is motivated to learn because the dominating relationship between the student and educator has evolved. Seemingly, the educator is no longer the “controlling” factor in the transfer of knowledge. In other words, whether students are Auditory, Visual or Kinesthetic learners, they are emotionally engaged to drive their own learning. The educator becomes more of a facilitator of inspiration rather than a vault of information. Incidentally, the student does not simulate content, but rather create new ways of relating this information into their paradigm. This is a generation that will not accept information without the option of exploring it for themselves. Their empowerment is manifested by their ability to recreate themselves in new sociological environments thus, changing their paradigm and emotional need for recognition at will. I’m not implying that educators haven’t explored the behavioral attitudes of today’s learner. In fact, if you review most of the remedial psychology courses, you will find behavioral development and learning are closely related. However, I do believe that our mythologies of

Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. Influencing Instructional Change delivering learning has been caught between the use of technological advancement, and the power to intellectually evolve. In other words, we are delivering information by use of technology, but negate the need to better understand how the pedagogy is being received. Subsequently, the Inspirational Millennial Learner forces online educational institutions, to not only dig deeper into understanding learning styles, but to discover new ways in which the learner has evolved. Please do not confuse this with the use of technology, such as texting student groups for increased retention; but rather measuring learning by the transfer of integrated sustainable knowledge. The Inspirational Millennial Learner views sustainable knowledge as a variable because their use of technology is variable. What does all of this mean? The good news is that education can be an ever changing industry. Our strongest industry talent is in our ability to make change. And, with the current government administration enacting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we can expect to make progress toward college and career-ready standards. You might ask, “but who serves and develops these guiding principles to higher education?” Good question. If I were to make an educated guess, I would say that the Inspirational Millennial Learner has demanded a shift in such change; consequently, the global standards of education is evolving and therefore, we must adapt and change with it. Although the fear of change is systemic in nature, this cultural shift is occurring with our own ability to admit that we do not have all of the answers. In fact, when we allow the genius of a student’s ability to trump one’s own need to be right, education occurs naturally. As we modernize instructional design and match student expectations, transformational change management becomes even more prevalent to promote long term success. Likewise,

Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. Influencing Instructional Change leadership is the key lever in achieving any organizational change. This process needs to include positive reinforcement coaching techniques and leadership development of an institutionalized academic work force. The guiding broad principles of change are universal and can be applied by exploring the communication, clarity, capability and consistency of an internal educational structure. Let me explain further. 1. Communication - Clearly communicating and actively listening to your “student market and stake holders.” In other words, can the students and stake holders “hear” me when I communicate? If so, how can I measure that variable? If not, what is the adjustable root cause? 2. Clarity – Provide transparency in educational development and change process. Hold open forums to both the students and stakeholders. Collect suggestions and provide weekly updates to those interacting and invested within the change. Thus, does the student base feel involved in their education? Can the stake holders be open to feedback? If not, WHY NOT? 3. Capability – Pay specific attention to management initiatives. This includes making sure that there are resources and full support needed to perform such change. Subsequently, is the institution capable of delivering positive, impactful and pedagogical change? What are the barriers to entry? Can the current leadership be successful in implementing the key success factors to educational and fiscal growth? 4. Consistency – Manage the reliability and specifics in all elements of change. This includes understanding the benefits, opportunities for growth and overall impacts of change. Is your communication consistent in your development of leaders? Does your

Kimberly Wiseman, M.Ed. Influencing Instructional Change organizational chart build upon cohesive growth or does it only represent the hierarchy of the organization? To conclude, Education is certainly subject to evaluation and reevaluation. This journey we travel together is not one of personal failure, but of opportunity for growth. Whereas, it is not the technology we must master, but our ability to understand the Inspirational Millennial Learner and subsequent learners of the future. Our greatest ability is to think, change and adapt the transfer of knowledge in a modern society. Since technology is ever evolving, so must our attitudes in professional development, instructional design and pedagogical research. We must be willing to actively listen, communicate and grow with each generation. As Lyndon B. Johnson once wrote, "At the desk where I sit, I have learned one great truth. The answer for all our national problems - the answer for all the problems of the world - come to a single word. That word is "education." Can you think of anything more powerful than that?


The Inspired Millennial Learner: Influencing Instructional Change