Skip to main content
Working with Generation-D: adopting and adapting to cultural learning and change
The Third Shanghai International Library Forum (2006)
  • Win Shih
  • Martha Allen, Saint Louis University

Look around today’s college campus. You can’t help noticing students “tuned in” with “earbuds” securely fastened, a laptop and PDA in their backpacks, camera-phone affixed to their belts. Campus life now includes: Downloading lecture notes, viewing course videos and taking quizzes via class websites; checking E-mail every 30 minutes, interacting with friends locally/globally courtesy of IM/“blogging;” MMORPGing (“Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Play Gaming”); downloading music/video files in MP3/M4A formats; sharing multi-megapixellated jpeg photos with online friends, vis-a-vis highspeed internet “lines.”

Who are these students? They are “Generation D:” So-called “digital natives,” the “net generation;” the first ubiquitous cohort of learners raised on and confirmed experts in “the latest, fastest, coolest, greatest electronic technologies.”

According to a recent survey by EDUCAUSE [1], Generation-D employs abundant technologies for studying, social networking and “edutainment.” Using technology in and out of the classroom provides multifarious benefits of convenience, connectivity and control in the learning process. However, this study also found that specialized technological skills such as online-library searching, mandatory for numerous course requirements, concomitantly demands additional improvements from the “service provider” side.

Moreover, EDUCAUSE discovered that the instructor’s I.T. skills possess the greatest impact upon “student engagement” and learner satisfaction.

Therefore, to interface successfully with “Gen-D,” librarians, together with teaching faculty and staff, must adopt and become adept at key learning technologies themselves; in other words, educational facilitators MUST keep apace technologically with students!

Inculcating the “cultural learning and change” vision of Edgar Schein[15], this presentation probes, in-depth, practices currently in progress at two academic libraries . As Schein explains, “one cannot ask others to learn something new if one has not learned something new oneself.” The steps we have inaugurated to transform our own library qua student learning culture include:

• Leadership Vision: Acknowledging the imperative for change in our own practices.

• Change Management: Providing and encouraging opportunities for conversation, conversion and reflection upon issues critical to the future of Academic Libraries.

• The Learning Process: Working to develop “new norms” for effective learning by today’s “Net Generation.”

• Organizational Education: Fostering change in the “technological classroom” (what Schein refers to as “a green room”); teaching teachers not to fear it.

• Continuous Learning: Ensuring new processes are reinforced (overcoming anxieties).

  • Generation-D; Net Gen; Millennials; Organizational Culture; Cultural Change; Cultural Learning
Publication Date
Citation Information
Win Shih and Martha Allen. "Working with Generation-D: adopting and adapting to cultural learning and change" The Third Shanghai International Library Forum (2006)
Available at: