The Next Generation of Openness

December 6, 2010 By Aminda

In contemplating the societal shift that the practice of openness has created over the past two decades, it’s hard not to think about what this means for the future. Two current generations, “The Millennials” (born somewhere between the late 70’s and late 90’s) and “The Net Generation” (born since then) will have been raised completely in this increasingly open, innovative society. They haven’t had to purchase anything from a camera to a car without the aid of hundreds of user reviews and opinions. They don’t know life without mass product customization from retailers from Nike to Café Press. And if they’re not designing the product themselves, it’s completely normal for them to be fully engaged in providing input into retailers’ product inventory thanks to online stores such as Threadless and ModCloth.

Here are some other examples of how life is different for these generations.

· Today’s six year old can participate in a global crowdsourcing project where their artwork is considered for inclusion in what is world’s billed to be the world’s largest curated exhibition of children’s arts and crafts.

· Today’s eight year old can create their own cartoon and actually have a chance to see it on TV. Or they can just vote on how they would like to see professional cartoons unfold.

· Today’s nine year old can invent all sorts of toys and ideas from video games to toys to iPhone apps and have the opportunity to submit her idea for a chance for it to seen by companies who can actually turn it into a real product.

· Today’s high school student can collaborate to help their favorite movie maker script his next project.

· Today’s college freshman may be taught by a professor who crowdsources his exam questions, giving students full permission to collaborate on their exams.

A recent post was about a global study on the cultural shift caused by innovation. This shift has already happened, even in generations not raised on concepts of innovation. What changes can we expect when these generations grow up and take over the workforce?

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Reader Comments

You are definetely right on. My neightbors son wrote a book at 9 years old and it is now publiched: "Simon, the Snowball".

Another one of my friends son actually had an app developed for the i-phone. He thought of his Teacher and how she was so unorganized. So he approached an app developed, used HIS OWN money to have it developed and is now making like $300 per month in app sales. My gosh we adults are going to be left in the ice age in a couple more years.
Posted by Pete on October 19, 2011

You're certainly correct in your comment that 'education must stop being a on way street'. I have always been of the belief that knowledge should come from below as well as above; mutual learning between children and teachers is surely the most productive method of teaching. It is true that the world has changed monumentally in recent years, particularly with regards to communication and openness. These changes need to be recognised and taken account of in the classroom. It is reassuring to see that innovation is occurring in education; the use of blogs, smart boards and international links between schools is currently driving the move to widen channels of communication. But more can still be achieved and it is through listening to the next generation and learning from them that we will progress most effectively as a society.
Posted by Ian Jones on August 12, 2011

The world changes. Even for a "gray beard" such as myself, the changes are obvious. My generation grew up with (B&W) TV, rock and roll, transistor radios, and much more. It changed the way we thought. During the Viet Nam war, people said not to trust anyone over 30. (Disclaimer, I was nearing 30 at the time and was drafted but used a graduate student deferment to avoid the draft.)

Today's students expect response. If they punch something into their electronic devices, they know they'll get something back. It's this interactivity that really defines the new generation, IMO.

So, education must stop being a one-way street. It must mimic the life experience of our students. You can deny it, but you cannot avoid it.

When you see a big wave coming, you can duck under it, you can let it push you to the bottom, or you can catch it and enjoy the ride. The choice is yours.
Posted by College Degree Online on July 12, 2011

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