Friday, August 5, 2011

And the beat goes on....

 While futurists and pundits continue to crank out the books portraying the "digital native" as some kind of newly-discovered tribe whose habits, language and culture we need to understand (see, for example, Dancing with Digital Natives), researchers continue to show how unfounded the generational claims are. And the research is coming from all parts of the world.

The latest piece of research I have read comes from the Caribbean, where Emanule Rapetti and Stewart Marshall have completed a study of learners at the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies. Their study, which is remarkably similar to our Digital Learners in Higher Education research, sought to determine whether UWIOC students fit the "digital native" profile and to develop a deeper understanding of how UWIOC students are using ICTs for learning.

Their results show that, while younger students are more familiar with ICT use in non-educational contexts,  there is not a clear gap between younger and older students in terms of their use and familiarity with digital technologies for learning. They also found that older students tend to prefer e-learning slightly more than younger students. They conclude, "it is necessary to contextualize the discourse about learners and to avoid generalizations about their - supposed - technological skills; our research shows that it is highly risky to split the tech-savvy learners simply according to the age factor."

Read the full article, Observing ICTs in Learners' Experiences around the World.

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