I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment about how the net generation think, (Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott). Most of you will be able to identify with who the net generation are. They’re the ones who seem to have iPod earplugs in their ears constantly while simultaneously texting, tweeting and browsing the web. This generation demand answers quickly, they demand more individual attention and they demand fun in their work. As teachers, we’ve either had to adapt to it or fight it.
Most successful organisations have done the former – think of Google, for example. What companies did you work for that had table-football and relaxation areas in their foyer?
But why would Google do this? How young are the net generation? Surely, they’re hardly out of primary school?
Well, I learned that being born in 1978 meant that I managed to just about squeeze in the back. And yes. I do demand all those things in my life. If I want a question answered, I’m able to sift through the terrabytes of rubbish on the Internet to find my answer quickly. However, it’s more likely I’ll ask the question on Twitter or Facebook first. I like being interconnected wherever I go. I also demand a voice, no matter how far down a hierarchy I am. I have no patience for getting my problems solved or my questions answered.
There’s one Irish organisation has made my life so much easier by adapting to my net generation needs. The IPPN (Irish Primary Principals Network) is probably responsible for about half of my Internet activity.
I subscribe to an excellent education forum for all teachers – Education Posts Forum. The amount of activity on this site is phenomenal. The IPPN also offer me a fantastic mailing list – the IPPN Principal Network. This gives me access to almost every primary school principal in the country, which I can use for advice and support. Finding a substitute teacher is also made easy from the IPPN’s text-a-sub service. Sending an instant message to all my parents in the school is easy to do with the text-a-parent service. And there’s more! When I’m looking for new staff, where’s the first place I go? It’s Education Posts, another IPPN initiative. Furthermore, I often receive texts from Seán Cotterell and Pat Goff, the heads of the IPPN, informing me of important information. When I went to the IPPN conference, Seán and Pat even did a text poll to see what we thought of the conference. Brilliant. Last week my wife’s school burned down. Within hours of the event, both heads of the network had rung personally to see what they could do and were able to offer some practical advice. In fact, if I have any educational problem or issue, the first people I connect with are the IPPN and their members.
The IPPN is an organisation who are embracing the Net Generation and their way of thinking even when the majority of their members may not be “net geners” themselves. They’re no multiple layers of bureaucracy and issues are sorted quickly and efficiently. I admire them greatly. I feel part of their organisation. I feel I have a voice. Now if only they tweeted… 🙂