Millenials and Plurals: Engaging a New Generation of Students


  • Morley Winograd, USC Fellow and Author

If you thought you had the Millennials figured out, now here come the Plurals. Morley Winograd, acclaimed author of Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America, will share his insights about millennials and help us get ready for the next generation, the Plurals.

Generational Differences are Just as Great as National Cultural Differences, but Rarely Perceived

A series of videos was presented that tested our awareness.  The idea is that we miss things that are happening right in front of us.

Defining a Generation

  • A group of people in a roughly 20 year span that share a common location in history, with common beliefs & behaviors, and perceived membership in a common generation
  • Why do they have these commonalities?  Changes in child-rearing approaches (i.e.”When I have kids, I’m not going to raise them the way I was raised”); events experienced during maturation (coming to make independent decisions about how the world works – luck; hard work; luck & hard work;); changes in communication technologies (i.e boomers and TV).  Creates an 80+ year cycle of four distinct archetypes:  Civic (millennials), Adaptive (silents), Idealist (boomers – believe strongly in a particular set of values), Reactive (GenX).
  • GenX’ers are a  Reactive generation:  against what came before and reject almost all of it; unprotected, criticized children; cynical, anti-institutional young people; entrepreneurial risk-takers in mid-life; communication technology is cable tv.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off famously portrayed their rejection, “I have to take a stand.”  GenX lived in a very hostile environment.
  • Millennials are a Civic generation:  they’re optimistic and like to work as a team.  Their communication technology?  The Internet and Social Media.  Has a female-dominated narrative.  Kids are the center of the universe in this generation.  Increasing:  media options, shared attention, consensus, customization; Decreasing:  gender gap, network TV, living on their own, risk taking.  They very much want to change the world together.  Risk must taken via the group…don’t assign projects with lots of individual risk.
  • Adaptive:  First majority/minority US generation; enthusiastically diverse, will smooth over differences, communication tech is  mobile.
  • GenX parenting style is beginning to show in the plural mindset:  Time for True Grit (ability to move forward despite obstacles).  Qualities plural’s parents think are important for young people to develop:  less dependable/respective, more creative / independent.
  • What do plurals think about college?  80% want college education to be integrated with practical experience.  72% want flexibility to create their own college experience.  Colleges have to become learning experiences.  Faculty will help co-design and co-instruct.  Mastery will be demonstrated through visual communication and simulation.
  • What do teens think about technology?  61% know a victim of cyberbullying; 52% play video games at least one hour per day.  38% make most of their purchases online.  15% prefer to interact with friends using SoMe.
  • Smartphone is the primary Internet access device.  It’s an appendage that almost never leaves their person.
  • New Generation’s SoMe is mobile and visual.  SoMe platforms are changing as a result.  SnapChat has an edge over Instagram because it’s impermanent.
  • Learning by listening to learning by doing.



By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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