What is generation ‘C’?!

We’ve all heard about generation X and Y but what is generation C? Nielsen has coined this term to encompass a group of consumers aged 18-34 who are digitally savvy and connected consumers. However, some argue that generation C can be “psychographically” defined. In other words, a group of people who group share a similar state of mind, whether that be certain personality traits, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles.

In which case, as it appears to me anyway, generation C would also encompass the children we have in our schools today. They are “digital natives” who enjoy creating their own content, as opposed to passively consuming others’; they enjoy collaborating on content through social networks and web 2.0 tools; they form online groups; and they enjoy being creative. I think this explains the students we have in our classes well but the question is: how do we cater for these students, especially when they often differ a fair bit from us as educators?

I think this links well to Clay Shirky’s idea of Cognitive Surplus (see his book on this) which basically asserts that following WWII we’ve had a surplus of “intellect, energy, and time – what Shirky calls a cognitive surplus. But this abundance had little impact on the common good because television consumed the lion’s share of it-and we consume TV passively, in isolation from one another. Now, for the first time, people are embracing new media that allow us to pool our efforts at vanishingly low cost.” (quote from Amazon’s book description).  We, as a people, are embracing our love for creating, connecting and sharing but I wonder if we are allowing this to occur inside (both in the physical and online sense) our classrooms?

For more information on Cognitive Surplus, have a look at Clay Shirky’s TED Talk.


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