Monday, December 15, 2008

We Still Need to Change

One point I don't make frequently enough is that I am not anti-technology. My critique of the net gen, digital native discourse is not meant to support the status quo but rather it is motivated by a desire to ensure that our decisions are based on evidence, not hype. We do need to change and adapt to the new technologies but we need to be sure we are making appropriate changes and not changes that are driven by a naïve view of who our learners are and what their needs are.

Anoush and Littlejohn make the case for change:

"As students look to their lecturers for clues as to how to use technology tools for learning, many lecturers are unaware of the potential of these tools, since they themselves are not using emergent technologies for their own learning and work. While some lecturers recognise the educational value of some emergent technologies, others view these as ‘fads’. This situation could become exceedingly problematic as many social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and virtual worlds are progressively adopted by organisations, where employees are required to use them regularly for knowledge sharing and communication. This raises the question as to how well universities are preparing students for employment if they continue to dismiss these tools and more importantly the processes and philosophies of learning and collective knowledge creation underpinning these tools. " (pp. 22-23)


David Richardson said...

I've been teaching using ICT for about 20 years now, and I'm always struck by the difference between younger and older students on net-based courses. With some exceptions, I'd characterise younger students as knowing exactly which key to depress, but having no idea at all *why* they should click on this button or that.

Older students, on the other hand, have no love for the technology - they just want it to do things. It sometimes takes them time to find which key to depress … but they're generally really good at the social skills you need in order for there to be some point in pressing the key in the first place.

In other words, if you're going to use the social networking aspects of ICT in order to learn things, you need to be good at social networking in general (i.e. even without computers) - and many younger students aren't very good at this. Perhaps it boils down to self-confidence - if you're going to share your ideas with others (without relying on environments which are based on stereotypes - like World of Warcraft, for example), then you need to have built a measure of self-confidence that you've actually got something to share.

Give me the 35 year-olds any day!

Norm said...

Great to see this blog. I've been monitoring the question of generations and technological change for some time. The postings catch many significant, recent contributions to the issue; but let me add a few:

1. Thomas Reeves says there is no clear evidence for adapting instructional principles to address styles of new generations (from: the Handbook of Research in Ed Tech & Communications):

2. A Video of an informative debate between Mark Bauerlein (Dumbest Generation),
Neil Howe (Mellinals Risign):

3. A posting I made a while ago on this myth that links to some other, relevant, debunking research:

4. Other myths in e-learning, and how to debunk them:

5. A link to the Mannheim's indispensible foundational essay on generations:


Mark Bullen said...


Thanks for your comments. I'll check out those resources.