Living with Generation Y

By Shlomo Maital

 Gen Y

Yesterday I made a short presentation at a one-day Technion conference on Technology, Education and Society. My main thought was: How can we leverage the Internet of Everything, rapidly emerging, where everyone, everything are connected all the time, benefit college students?

   An excellent presentation was made by the Technion’s head of student advancement, Sarah Katzir, who has been in this post for over 30 years. She recounted her experiences in dealing with Gen Y students. She had three interesting insights about Gen Y:

  • Gen Y is impatient. They do not tolerate uncertainty well, and lack emotional strength to accept situations that are vague, ill-defined, or even chaotic.       They seek fast solutions, a silver bullet, to situations involving discomfort. This is the generation of speed. They consume rapid MTV images, and want things to move quickly, especially, solutions to their problems.
  • Multi tasking:       Gen Y is perpetually multi-tasking.       In the Technion computer farm, where students spend much time, it is common to see them doing homework, following news on the Internet, sending SMS messages, Tweeting, writing their blog, and more. All at the same time. Their attention span, as a result, is very short.  It is hard to instructors to hold their attention for 30 minutes, let alone for 45. They read rapidly, but on the surface, lacking in – depth understanding.
  • Individual learning is now group learning. Even when Gen Y studies alone, they do it ‘together’ with ours, via smartphones.       Learning is done within chat forums. Being alone is no longer necessary, because through smartphones and other technologies, Gen Y is always always connected with others. SMS is their mode of choice for communicating.       Their thumbs are incredibly agile as a result.

At the conference, one of my colleagues noted that Gen Y has many advantages. Their discomfort with being uncomfortable leads to rapid creative solutions to problems.  

   And Gen Z? The new generation coming along? What will they be like? I’m looking for some good answers.