Library Committee Handbook

User Education Committee

User Education Committee Lunch Discussions November 16, 2000

November 16, 2000

Topic: Discussion of : "The Information-Age Mindset: Changes in Students and Implications for Higher Education" by Jason L. Frand in EDUCASE REVIEW, Sept/Oct 2000 issue at



We first discussed the habits of the "Nintendo Generation." These students, who include anyone less than 30 years old, work using trial and error. They try something. If it does not work, they try something else. They are not afraid of or timid about using new technology. They multi-task. They do many things at once. They have several windows open at the same time on the computer. They e-mail or check out web sites while they are at a training session. They watch television while they do their homework. However, are they really learning while they multi-task? Several people thought, students do not learn tasks well when they are doing many things at the same time.

However, as educators, we need to consider this 'generational personality' or behavior of these students. Do we accept the fact that they do not seem to be paying attention? Does multi-tasking affect their learning? What are they learning when they multi-task? If they are not really paying attention, how do we use their ability to do many things at the same time and their desire to use trial and error to develop better classes to help them learn more? Based on the patterns of behavior that these young students show, are there ways we can improve our classes and instruction?


We discussed the definition of technology. We can define technology in terms of the age of a person and the dates when they grew up. Technology is those new devices which are developed while someone grows up. To the 50+ year olds, technology would include televisions, computers, cell phones, as well as e-mail. To the 30+ year olds, technology includes high speed and graphical computers, and cell phones, but not computers. To the under 30 year olds, computers and televisions are not technology. They grew up with these devices.


There are two types of classes now available for staff training on the online catalog. One is self-paced. It is similar to a tutorial except that there is a person available to answer questions. The second type is the traditional web tutorial, where the staff works totally independently. The self-paced type with access to a human might be a good option for some learners.

Another option would be to have open labs for tutorials where there is an instructor available to help the student when he has questions. This type of learning happens often at the Reference Desk in the Undergraduate Library when students need help learning how to search the databases. Currently the Reference Desk does not have the staff or computers to handle more of these help sessions and yet the Library would like to reach more students. Offering different kinds of instruction like the traditional workshop, the open lab, and the web tutorial would mean reaching more students and more different styles of learners. Unfortunately, there are still limitations in terms of space for instructions and staff for instruction.


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