DDW News


Generational differences challenge educators, millennial learners

Technology has changed the way we learn, and millennials are a prime example of that. Using information, not just learning it, has become a key to success, according to Ryan Madanick, MD, moderator of Tuesday’s AGA Academy of Educators Plenary Session Integrating Education Technology in the Era of Millennial Learners.

Ryan Madanick, MD
Ryan Madanick, MD

While some educators have changed with the times, Dr. Madanick said many are still trying to teach like it’s 1997.

“When I was in med school in the 1990s, information was the currency by which we rated someone,” said Dr. Madanick, assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, and director of the AGA Academy of Educators. “Information and the retention is no longer the currency of education. What matters today is learning to use information and how well you apply it.”

During Tuesday’s session, Dr. Madanick and two other expert presenters will discuss generational approaches to education and training.

“We see a lot of frustration on the part of educators and equal frustration on the part of learners,” said Academy of Educators co-director Sheryl Pfeil, MD, AGAF, professor of clinical medicine at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus. “Educators are frustrated because learning has changed, and learners are frustrated because so many educators have not changed.”

Sheryl Pfeil, MD, AGAF

One prime example is the common complaint heard from educators about the amount of time medical students spend on their smartphones and other electronic devices while in class or on rounds. The reality, Dr. Pfeil said, is that some seemingly inattentive students are looking up information on the spot.

“The fact that information is so readily available has revolutionized the way we learn and transmit information,” she said.

Attention spans also seem to have changed in the last two decades.

Dr. Madanick said research suggests that the ease of accessing information on the go may have shortened attention spans. Hour-long lectures are falling out of curricula and being replaced by shorter modules and classroom activities that require active-learner participation.

“Educators see the change most dramatically in millennial learners, but it’s not just younger learners who have changed,” he said. “We are all facing the ability to access information from almost anywhere and the growing need to filter it so we can focus on what is useful.”

During the session, Amy Oxentenko, MD, AGAF, associate professor and associate chair of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, will discuss the perceived divide between the educators of today, who are largely baby boomers and Gen Xers, and the millennial generation of learners.

“Millennials grew up in a world of technology that we as the teachers never had. In order for us to most effectively reach them as educators, we need to take a peek into their world and understand their wants and needs,” Dr. Oxentenko said. “It’s a challenge we need to be able to take on as educators.”

Sonia Yoon, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Rochester, NY, will discuss the millennial mindset and implications for trainee education.

“This plenary session promises to be valuable for anyone involved in education, whether the learners are at the medical student, resident or fellow level,” Dr. Pfeil said. “The current generation of learners have different needs, and it behooves us as educators to adapt our educational delivery to meet the needs of the learners of today. By modifying our methods, we can invigorate learners and improve the teaching and learning experience.”

Please refer to the DDW Mobile App or the Program section in Tuesday’s DDW Daily News for the time and location of this and other DDW® events.

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