Casey, Gail 2011, Gen Y and their 'backpacks of hidden treasures', in Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education : Sustaining Student-Centric Higher Education: Embracing Diversity and Empowering Gen Y Learners, The Conference, Singapore.
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This paper reports on part of a teacher/researcher’s PhD action research study conducted in an Australian public high school, investigating the use of online social networking as a classroom learning environment where students were encouraged to find and use their hidden treasures. It examines student reactions and online activity whilst they are interacting with a range of Web 2.0 and social media tools. The study may inform the rising generation of higher education learners and their course developers and explores the move from passive to active learning through Gen Y’s engagement with online social media. It looks at a range of innovative practices that were made possible through using a Ning online social network as a classroom environment whilst encouraging Gen Y to take more responsibility for learning. It also looks at the pedagogical implications that come with the use of social media as they challenge traditional models of
‘instructional order’. This study primarily adopts a social constructivist approach to teaching with the focus being on learning, rather than teaching. The study found that having such a flexible curriculum environment encouraged Gen Y to share their ‘hidden treasures’ and, hence, informal classroom learning became more visible and more readily documented. Gen Y students appreciated the opportunities to publish and to gain feedback from more than their teacher alone. Students, in some cases, could be seen to be engaged in their own cycle of learning where they valued the opinion of their peers which, in turn, helped them to improve their work.