Millennials grew up in a unique era of transition as the Internet began to flourish and social networking took root. The first generation with nearly unlimited resources for knowledge, millennials learn, think, and feel differently about education. Millennials are visual learners who do not learn the same way baby boomers did. Digital content is king. This shift gives educators the opportunity to innovate with new technologies to increase student engagement and encourage a more participatory culture. This holds especially true for STEM education.
STEM education infiltrates every subject and career area. What career field doesn't require at least one STEM area to stay relevant? Most require multiple areas, if not all of them. STEM education is key to closing the skills gap.
If executed properly, eLearning can help engage more millennial learners in STEM-related subjects. Instructors can be partnered virtually with learners, or projects can be broadened in scope to serve a particular audience or tailored according to each new customer.
Millennials' ways of learning also involves finding context for scientific theories and practices. In other words, it's not about doing STEM for its own sake, but rather for the sake of a bigger purpose. The social aspect of eLearning provides opportunities to really grasp how innovations and developments in STEM affect the people who use them.
Without an in-person connection to other learners and instructors, effective communication needs to be placed at the forefront of eLearning. If a learner doesn't have the necessary communication skills, they'll soon develop them, and if they do have them, they’ll be given ample opportunity to use them.
Collaboration and community are also key components in the new way of learning. Although these aren't yet integral to all eLearning systems, there is tremendous potential for both, and implementation would be of great benefit to all kinds of learners.
Ideally, these things should be present in any kind of learning environment, whether it's in a physical classroom, or online. Newer, more customizable and adaptable eLearning systems are demonstrating that even from a distance, STEM education can be a communal, creative enterprise that appeals to both male and female learners.
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