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Generation Gap Creates Tech Tensions

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No one should be surprised to learn that today's young people have a different sense of workplace behavior than, say, Baby Boomers. But this survey, which I learned about at the Read Write Web blog, shows just how vast is the divide between the kinds of work habits, skills, and tools people of various age groups find efficient and appropriate.

"The generation gap at work is really wide with vast discrepancies when it comes to what the appropriate use of technology is - a problem that leads to increasing tensions in the workplace," Sarah Perez writes in her blog post.

Boomers, or those 44 and older, for example, don't have much affection for some of the technologies/applications that have proliferated at the office and at home, such as laptops, PDAs, or blogs. Let's not even talk about social networking sites.

Yet younger workers see all those things as standard tools for doing their jobs efficiently, whether they are sitting at their desks or in meetings with their colleagues. As they take notes on their Blackberry or netbook, many of their veteran colleagues are cringing with every click of the keyboard.

There is also some discussion on the blog about the contradicting information out there about how hip, or unhip, boomers are when it comes to technology.

The article got me thinking about classrooms and how this same scenario plays out among teachers and students. Only difference is that students generally don't get to choose whether to use their favorite tools despite the preferences of the adults in the room.

This generational tension, of course, will slowly ease as technology seeps further into our professional and home lives, and boomers retire.

But does that mean that it makes sense to use technology 15 or 16 hours a day, as younger respondents say they do? Or that it's better to be connected to the office (or the classroom) every possible waking moment?

5 Comments

I am constantly looking for new ways to incorporate technology into our curriculum. Simply trying to get my students to create book blogs got bogged down in the technology department. We wrote them but then we could not post them. Today I get word from one of the high school media specialists who has fought a battle trying to get a MAC lab in her school but the technology coordinator says it is not part of the curriculum. She has been doing student collaborations for years with media and video productions. There are lots of roadblocks when it comes to trying to incorporate new technologies in the schools and it is not always because we are the baby boomers.I'm 56 and I try to stay abreast of the new technologies. You have to constantly do battle to incorporate technology.The tech gurus talk down to you but they don't know the curriculum and they get to make the decisions. Part of your time is spent trying to work around them when they should be your allies.

"Boomers, or those 44 and older, for example, don't have much affection for some of the technologies/applications that have proliferated at the office and at home, such as laptops, PDAs, or blogs. Let's not even talk about social networking sites."
I am inclined to take exception to a sweeping all inclusive statement such as this above.
My friends & myself are in this age group and am well abreast with Technologies - We have blogs for both education and personal interests. we belong to social net working sites, and use del. ici. ous, Flicker,online galleries, buy & sell online etc.I truly do not consider age has anything to do with use of Technology rather it is an attitude to change and a love of Technology stays with one for life - one simply adapts to and adopts each new stage with relish if one is a life long learner.

I also BEG to DIFFER! (although you are probably right for the vast majority of boomers, sad to say.)

Honestly, if I were a principal, I would make technology skill a condition of employment/eligibility for ALL teachers on staff. Teachers have absolutely no excuse for updating themselves vis a vis technology. (Most applications, platforms, etc, offer free online tutorials.) How can teachers keep touting "lifelong learning" to students when the kids can clearly see that many of their teachers are way behind the technology curve. No more excuses! Previous posts are correct in pointing out that often a school's tech administrator(s) is/are the biggest contributors to the creation of a hostile and unproductive "tech" environment.

First, I think your statement reinforces the need for technology education as part of the continuing education requirements for educators. Affection for or proficiency of something comes with practice and knowledge. If educators prefer and feel comfortable with technological tools then those will be more likely used. However, I need to take exception to “boomers” not having much affection for some of the technologies out there. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use various tools for something all with the desire to learn more including my 85 year old stepfather.

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