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School & District Management

Generation Gap Creates Tech Tensions

April 24, 2009 1 min read

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?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

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