From Book Editor to Lawyer, a Gamble Pays Off
Judith McCarthy graduates from Rutgers School of Law-Newark with a position at a national firm....
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A Millennial Education: New Book Explores “Generation M” and How Educators Can Reach Them in the Classroom
CAMDEN – Today college students can tweet, text, listen to an iPod, and post photos on Facebook in a matter of seconds. To get through to these multitasking students, educators must move beyond traditional teaching methods. That’s why Rutgers University—Camden scholar Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic has published the book Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2009).
The book aims to raise awareness about this new cohort of learners and their growing need to discern fact from fiction in a sea of information. A skill Cvetkovic calls information literacy. The text, co-edited with Robert J. Lackie of Rider University, also offers advice on how to incorporate YouTube into the classroom; whether or not educators should join Facebook; and the strengths and pitfalls of Google searches.
“Between Baby Boomers and Millennials, there are very significant tribal differences,” notes Cvetkovic, a librarian at the Paul Robeson Library and a doctoral student in childhood studies, both at Rutgers–Camden. “As educators we need to get a handle on the differences, both real and imaginary, to do better jobs.”
While the stereotypical Millennial reputation is one of great technological savvy, Cvetkovic is quick to point out that socioeconomic factors leave many without access to computers or the Internet. Also true is that the ability to text at warp speeds doesn’t exactly reflect one’s computer knowhow.
For educators preparing teaching plans for a new class of students this fall, the Rutgers–Camden researcher offers sage advice. “It’s important to embrace technologies, but to prepare thoughtfully, think of who it is you’re talking to and all of the different ways to present your material,” notes the author of the book The Plagiarism Plague: A Resource Guide. “A student may always be online blogging or checking their Facebook and Twitter pages, but that doesn’t replace research and critical thinking skills.”
Several articles in the book address popular websites and how, for better or worse, they are part of the lives of today's students. Cvetkovic admits to using Wikipedia almost daily at the reference desk for quick checks on dates or proper spelling of books, but she cringes to think that students use this open-source site exclusively for scholarly research.
But that’s not to say that sites like YouTube can’t be educational as well as entertaining (even Cvetkovic bookmarks funny clips like cats on treadmills.) For instance, the Rutgers–Camden librarian has found a “treasure trove” of historic footage for her childhood studies research on YouTube, including video of children at play in London in the 1950s. Cvetkovic trusts the validity of the video because of its posting URL: the British Film Institute archives.
According to Katie Elson Anderson, who wrote the chapter “YouTube and YouTube-iness,” the site also offers educators a wealth of options for in-classroom viewing. “YouTube is different from simply showing a clip or movie in class as it is always available to the students, even after viewing and the comments and discussions can be used for further educational purposes,” says Elson Anderson, a supervisor of access and collection services at Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers–Camden. While some schools ban any use of YouTube in the classroom oftentimes citing legal reasons, live streaming is actually the only allowed sharing use of the site.
Google has addressed the demand for academic inquiries with the introduction of its GoogleScholar site that allows for searches with one easy interface. This familiar platform might be a good introduction for easing students into more serious academic research.
“Technology is changing, but whether you’re writing with a quill or typing on your laptop, the elements of good research remain the same: read various articles, investigate citations, analyze validity and authority, make sure what you’re reading is timely and verifiable,” notes Cvetkovic. “Growing up, I was taught to be skeptical, to analyze the source of things. With today’s tsunami of information, critical thinking skills are needed now more than ever.”
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Media Contact: Cathy K. Donovan