From Conversation to Activism

Last week, a committee I chair–my college’s Multi-Generational Teaching & Learning Committee–hosted its first panel presentation. Entitled “A Multi-Generational Conversation: Classrooms, Computers, and Curriculum,” the event was meant to open a discussion on our campus about the different generations that comprise our college’s student population. How do they interact? Are they more different than similar? etc.

I have to say that I was absolutely stunned by how eager the audience was to participate in the discussion. The question and answer period was lively. Many even stayed behind to continue the conversation, focusing mainly on the advantages and disadvantages of single-age cohorts on campus, such as the recent high school graduates enrolled together in classes at our college. (Overall, the opinion of those in attendance was that single-age cohorts were fine for a semester or two, but, beyond that, the students needed to attend “real” college classes with students from a variety of backgrounds and ages.)

Another hot topic was the technology-dependent curriculum. Many of the older attendees expressed frustration over not being as well-versed in computer use as their younger classmates. They felt that their lack of computer “know how” harmed their academic performance. When pressed, these students admitted that their lack of ease with the computer did not just stem from a lack of familiarity with our online learning platform but instead with even more basic computer deficits, such as a lack of keyboarding skills. We all agreed that more “basic” computer training was needed. I already have a meeting planned with our eLearning Office to map-out the curriculum.

Eventually, the crowd started to thin as people made their way out of the auditorium and off to their classes. However, none left without being reminded by a member of our committee to sign a petition we were circulating to have our college’ print and electronic publications to become more representative of our college’s multi-generational student population.

I used to wonder what being an activist would feel like. Now, I know: An activist is someone who doesn’t just identify a problem but acts to fix it. I am pleased to say that my committee’s little panel presentation event morphed into a gathering of activists. And I couldn’t be prouder.


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