What Educators Need to Know About Today’s Internet

Mary Meeker’s Internet Report. Each week, Educating Modern Learners picks one interesting current event – whether it’s news about education, technology, politics, business, science, or culture – and helps put it in context for school leaders, explaining why the news matters and how it might affect teaching and learning (in the short or in the long run). This week, Audrey Watters looks at Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Report.

Mary Meeker, the Morgan Stanley analyst turned venture capitalist, released her annual Internet Report this week. As usual, it’s a length presentation – 197 slides – detailing the trends she’s identified that reflect the growth of various Internet technologies. Indeed, in the last twenty years, the global penetration of the Internet has grown tremendously (although it’s now slowing) – from less than 1% of the population to 39%. There are now 2.8 billion Internet users in the world.

And those users are increasingly accessing the Internet via mobile devices. In the last twenty years, the global penetration of mobile phone users has gone from less than 1% of the population to 73%. (Of those, 40% use a smartphone.) The growth of mobile is significant, says Meeker, for online advertising and retail. But it’s also changed the way we watch videos. 29% of our online video viewing is on small (vertical) screens.

Meeker’s whole presentation is worth reading, but here are a few items that caught my attention:

  • User-shared video is now at 4 billion views per day (most of that via Facebook).
  • User-generated gaming/streaming is growing 122% year over year.
  • User-generated audio content is growing 33% year over year, with 10 million creators in the last two years joining Soundcloud.
  • User-generated content and stories is growing 140% year over year, with 125 million stories posted to WattPad.

How much of this content is generated by teens? A lot. 12 to 24 year olds remain “trendsetters,” Meeker argues.

Meeker observes that teens’ usage of Facebook has dropped since 2014, but they’re using Instagram and Snapchat more. (Instagram, says Meeker, is teens’ most important social network.) 87% of millennials say that “my smartphone never leaves my side, night or day.” 44% use their mobile camera daily. 76% use their camera to post to social media.

Meeker’s report notes important changes in employment – what millennials want from their employers (training and development) and what they expect (flexibility with work hours and location, access to technology).

All of these trends should signal to schools that education also needs to change to adapt to Internet and mobile technologies’ penetration. (Meeker notes that education has not experienced the impact of these technologies as other sectors have.) But increasingly students, like employees, will also expect flexibility and access – this is how they see themselves working and and learning and living online. They want to do so on their own terms, Meeker suggests. How will schools respond?

Image credits: Blaise Alleyne

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