“In early 2007 the Center on Congress will begin design and production of an ambitious and innovative program to help young people learn about representative democracy and their role as citizens: a multiplayer online role play game, tentatively titled Virtual Congress. To give students an insider’s view of how Congress works and the importance of civic engagement, the Virtual Congress will use the same technology underlying popular multiplayer online role-playing games being played by millions of players every day.” Read the rest of the blog post from Indiana University, South Bend here.

Another great reason to “get a group of diverse people working together to accomplish something” using avatars. While this is not Second Life, it is another great reason to become familiar with navigating in 3D environments. The learning possibilities in these environments are endless for librarians, teens, educators, and more.

Here is an article from USA Today, Is This the Age of the Online Avatar?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Posted by Beth Gallaway

The YALSA Technology for Young Adults committee traditionally hosts a program at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning (okay, 8:00 AM – it’s early!) and it is ALWAYS worth getting up for.

This year, Stephen Abram, whose job title is Vice President of Innovation (how cool is that!?) and blogger extradordinaire of Stephen’s Lighthouse, presented The Kids are Alright! Millennials and their Information Behaviors to a LOT of other people who found were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to hear what he had to say.

I walked in to hear him encouraging the audience to pay attention to gaming (yay!) and to read Beck & Wade’s Got Game (the paperback edition is named The Kids are Alright. Abram went on to impart characteristics of the millennial generation and show by example how they are different from Boomers and Gen X/Y. They are generally:

  • More direct (polite but assertive and demanding)
  • Smarter (IQ tests are revised and made more difficult every year; the current standard of 100 would have been genuis level when the test was first standardized) Healthier (about 8% smoke)
  • Both more liberal and conservative (multiculturally and globally aware, and patriotic and spiritual)
  • Well-balanced (able to both multitask and commune with themselves.

Some stats:
90% own a home computer
85% spend at least an hour a day online
75% have a TV in thir room (cramming 8.5 hours of television viewing into 6.5 hours, due to multitasking

In light of these facts, Abram challenged libraries to meet the youth where they are. “They live on the phone,” he said, challenging us to make our webpages be readable on small screens, to set up IM screen names and get into MySpace where our users are.

One of the most interesting things I heard was they the eyeballs of millennials move differently when reading – they skim the bottom and edges then focus on the center. And specific COLORS attract and repel -red draws attention first, neon green and orange are skimmed, and black is ignored completely. A slide on the teen brain compared activity patterns to show the shift on how the millennial’s brain is being used differently than the boomer’s brain.

Audience questions included:

  • Do you think the prevalence of cutting is due to the detachment of kids and immersion in technology? to which abram replied it’s not a technology related problem, it is more likely a response to pressure to perform and succeed placed upon youth by adults;
  • How do I get my OPAC search bar into MySpace? to which Abram recommended contacting Hennepin County, whose page he had highlighted during the presentation
  • Where can I find a poster of the image of the brain you showed, to use a tool for teachers, parents, admin to SHOW how these kids process information differently? Abram gave several sources for text posters.

All in all, well worth getting up for – watch http://stephenslighthouse.sirsi.com/ for the PPT presentation to appear.

Please continue the discussion of Millennials right here on YALSA’s blog! Do you agree with Abram’s assertations of millennial characteristics? What other programs and services are YOU offering to meet their needs? Share your ideas via comments!

Stephen Abram,VP for Innovation at SirsiDynix, has offered some fantastic conference tips on his blog Stephen’s Lighthouse.
Some of the tips I found invaluable for conference planning:

  • Make your most ambitious schedule in advance allowing for alternatives if you have more or less time
  • Remember your business cards (make some if you don’t have any)
  • Wear comfortable shoes (I actually trashed a pair of shoes in San Antonio and bought a new pair!)

Come hear Stephen speak as a guest of YALSA’s Technology for YA’s committee. Don’t miss “The Kids are Alright! Millennials and their Information Behaviors” on Sunday morning June 25, 2006 from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM at the Morial Convention Center room: Rm. 283-85.

Meg Canada

A new Lemelson-MIT program, compares the beliefs of teens and adults of how technology will shape the future with an invention index. Many teens believe that technology will solve a range of the world’s problems including famine and pollution. Still only fourteen percent of the students in the study named technology as their primary interest in a career. With Arts and Medicine listed as their top choices, I sincerely doubt these teens will not have a technology-emphasis in their career choices.