Guest Author - Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
There is one commonality that all online instructors will face, and that is student diversity. Since the majority of online instructional programs are available to students nationwide, and in some cases globally, your classroom will likely contain a range of age groups and cultures. When instructing a multigenerational classroom, it is essential to recognize the differences between students of each generation. There are currently four main generations that either have careers or are currently attending college: (1) Baby Boomer Generation, (2) Generation X, (3) Generation Y, and (4) Generation Z.
Baby Boomer Generation—Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and adopted their name because more babies were born in 1946 than ever before. This was a result of couples postponing marriage and childbirth during the Great Depression and World War II. After World War II ended, couples felt more secure about their futures, so procreation flourished and continued to flourish for years before finally tapering off around 1964.
Generation X—Generation Xers, commonly referred to as Gen X, the Pacman Generation, or the post-baby boomer generation, were born between 1961 and 1981. Generation Xers represent a smaller portion of the population than the baby boomer generation but are considered to be better educated and more ethnically diverse.
Generation Y—Generation Y is commonly referred to as Gen Y or the Millennial Generation. The Gen Y population was born between 1977 and 1994 and is considered part of the pre-Internet era. In comparison to other generations, Gen Y has the largest employee population, averaging around seventy million or more. Generation Y kids were raised with more conveniences and opportunities established by dual-income families.
Generation Z—Unlike previous generations, Generation Z population was born between 1995 and 2015 and are known by a variety of naming conventions originating from the use of technology. Synonyms used to represent Gen Z include Net Gen, Google Generation, iGeneration, Digital Natives, Generation Q (Quiet), Generation Now, and of course, the Millennials (which also applies to Generations X, Y, and Z). It is safe to say that Gen Z members will have more than one “life” identity.
Multicultural classrooms can create a more enhanced learning environment by allowing students to share more about themselves with one another during discussions or activities. Try to revise teaching strategies to increase the effectiveness of classroom activities. Ask open-ended questions that motivate students to discuss their cultural views, and always remind students to be respectful of one another. This creates not only more of a shared learning environment but also an environment of cultural awareness and diversity.
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