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Georgia Gwinnett College president talks about teaching in the digital age

LAWRENCEVILLE - As Georgia Gwinnett College grows, officials at the Campus of Tomorrow are figuring out the best way to educate the generation of Millennials.

This group, made up of people born from 1982 to 2003, is twice the size of Generation X, College President Daniel Kaufman said. There are also a million more Millennials than Baby Boomers, he said.

The Millennials operate digitally and multitask constantly, Kaufman said. They'll listen to music and send text messages while doing their homework, he said.

"Their world is digital. The Internet rules," Kaufman said Thursday during a Human Resource Management Association meeting. "The old confines of the traditional classroom aren't going to work. They'll be bored, and they'll quit. ... We have to accommodate the way they learn."

That's why educational technology is so important at the college, the first four-year institution to be created in the United States in the 21st century, Kaufman said. Educational technology isn't about the gizmo; it's about "using the gizmo to enhance student learning," he said.

College officials are developing creative and innovative ways to run the school, Kaufman said. For example, students must take a sequence of courses in information technology as part of their general education requirements because "information technology is the literacy of the 21st century," he said.

Kaufman encouraged the business leaders to tell him what programs they see a need for. Georgia Gwinnett College currently offers degrees in business, biology, psychology and information technology. Once the school is accredited, it will add degrees in education, nursing and radiologic technology.

In the future, Kaufman said the college might add programs in mathematics and criminal justice. Because Georgia Gwinnett College is an open-access institution designed to meet the higher education needs of the community, Kaufman said it will be a while before it offers degrees in philosophy, history and English.

Georgia Gwinnett College opened in 2006 in Lawrenceville with 120 juniors, and the school welcomed its first freshmen in August.