Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Research Questions Technological Determinist Net Gen Discourse

A study of first-year students' use of technology at five UK universities concludes there is much more diversity than is portrayed in the popular net generation literature. According to Jones & Ramanau (2009), "the broad brush approaches to generational changes obscure the subtle but important differences between students" of the same generation. And Jones & Cross (2009) argue that the net generation is more like a "collection of minorities with a small number of technophobic students and large numbers of others making use of new technologies but in ways that do not fully correspond with many of the expectations built into the Net Generation and Digital Natives theses".

Their study of about 600 first year students in five UK universities found widespread use of many digital technologies but found limited use of participatory digital technologies such as blogs, wikis and virtual worlds: "there is no evidence of a significant uptake of any of these technologies amongst the first students." The study was conducted in the Spring of 2008.

They conclude that educational policy makers in universities and government should be cautious about "adopting technological determinist arguments that suggest that universities simply have to adapt to a changing student population who are described as a single group with definite and known characteristics."

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