Generation Y the lazy rhetoric?

“very few [Generation Y students] employ collaborative technologies such as wikis, blogging and Twitter in their research, despite using such tools in their personal lives.”

Elizabeth Gibney. Few Tweet successes as Generation Y fails to use blog-standard tools. Times Higher Education, 28 June 2012.

I’m unconvinced with the argument that the new generation of researchers routinely use multiple social media recreationally. This seems to have become a rationale for academic appropriation that is rarely challenged. In my experience of running workshops at the University of Nottingham and elsewhere, many postgraduate and early career researchers are ‘on Facebook’ and use little else. Ask them, and some include using Wikipedia (as a resource only) as ‘engaging’ in social media (mostly unaware of the potential of using the underlying technology of wikis as a platform for collaborative text editing). Few blog recreationally, or even read them. Twitter use is limited and often doesn’t extend much beyond the signing up stage.

Yet this limited engagement and awareness regularly seems to be sufficient to appropriately constitute ‘significant’ recreational social media use, propagating the belief that when adopting them for academic purposes, new researchers are intimately familiar with the tools, practices and culture of multiple types of social media.

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One Response to “Generation Y the lazy rhetoric?”

  1. Virginia Yonkers Says:

    What she fails to recognize (which you allude to here) is that Gen Y (and I don’t think it is just Gen Y but all new researchers across generations) does not research the same way as traditional academic print based protocols. My students are much more social in analyzing sources, information, etc… Print based sources are no longer the only reliable forms of research. Students go to information clouds, social networks, and wikis for information. Then they are told in school that these are not reliable and they can’t use them. There is a disconnect between what they are told they can use and what they actually use to create a final product.

    Students still go to wikipedia, but don’t cite it because they are told they can’t. They go to the internet/social networks to get information and collaborate to understand assignments/create finished products, but don’t cite that for fear that they will be told they are plagorizing or cheating. Most importantly, students don’t like to merge “recreational” and “academic” tools because they perceive a disconnect between the two worlds which they want to keep separate. This is especially true as businesses begin to penalize their workers for actions in their personal lives.

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