Students Don't Care
There is a certain apathy among college students today. I’ve noticed the trend throughout my four years in college, and its ubiquity just recently struck me. There are plenty of excuses for it. Call it detachment. Call it procrastination. Call it senioritis.
I call it an inflexible system. Education has a fresh cornucopia of tools that have not been utilized to potential. That is a shame, and a failure on the part of the system to adapt.
As a student of marketing and public relations, one of the first things any budding professional is taught is to identify your audience. Identify your audience. Professors now have a very different audience today than professors even 10 years ago. My generation was raised with toys. With gadgets. My generation has a high processing speed and a low tolerance for filler. My generation learns in bullet points and status updates of 140 characters or less. Most importantly, my generation is endlessly engaged with a wide online community. This is the audience.
And moreover, this should be any professor’s dream. You have a venue for innovation! Incorporate Twitter with weekly hashtags for required collaborative note-taking in class. Create a Facebook group for classes to act as a forum for ongoing learning alongside student’s social interests. Teach students how to traverse the current bubble of academia to engage in the discipline’s community. Make events, conferences, blog postings, cutting-edge news on the industry, or any other proof of immersion in a subject, extra credit. And crucially, lead by example. When you do, we will know, and we will follow suit.
So what are dissatisfied students supposed to do? Sit in their dorm rooms, set their Facebook status to “livid,” watch their education fund dwindle, and wait for graduation to finally arrive? That’s called a “cop out.” And we’re not paying for it. We’re paying for the value of an education. And unfortunately, many students are not seeing the value.
I am not saying that social media will ride in on a white stallion and solve all of the education system’s many problems. Absolutely not. Nor am I saying that students’ lethargy is entirely the education system’s fault. It certainly isn’t. What I am saying is that professors who care about what their students are learning need to start getting creative, to readjust with the world we grew up in — an entirely different one than what colored their youth.
Without a change, the fissure between students and academics will grow wider and wider. And we’re not paying for it.