Thursday, December 23, 2010

Digital Learners in Higher Education: Generation is Not the Issue

The idea that generation explains how young people use digital technologies and that these "digital natives" are fundamentally different from the older "digital natives" in how they use and understand technology has been successfully debunked. Our work and in particular, the article, Digital Learners in Higher Education: Generation is Not the Issue, is part of the significant body of research that has exposed the superficiality of the techno-determinist rhetoric of the popular futurists (e.g., Tapscott, Prensky, Palfrey & Gasser and others). This article has been accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Learning & Technology but will probably not be published until sometime in 2011 so we are making a pre-publication version of the article available now.

We and others (e.g., see special issues of Journal of Computer Assisted Learning and Learning, Media & Technology) have moved beyond the simplistic generational perspective and have begun to explore the deeper and more important issues related to how higher education learners understand and use digital technologies in different parts of their lives. Stay tuned for more on this.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Learning, the Net Generation and Digital Natives

The journal, Learning, Media and Technology has just published an issue with  focus on the theme, Learning, the Net Generation and Digital Natives. I have only had chance to scan the articles but it looks like a very interesting issue that adds to the growing body of research that is helping to provide us with an evidence-based understanding of how young people are using digital technologies and how leisure and academic uses are interconnected. The issue is edited by Chris Jones from the UK Open University, Institute of Educational Technology.

From the editorial:

The articles in this issue paint a complex picture of change amongst young people, a picture at odds with the idea of a Net Generation composed of Digital Natives. They address the ways that leisure and study activities intertwine and suggest new methods for research need to be adopted to complement the predominantly survey methods currently deployed. The articles show that young people at school and university use technologies in ways that are related to their purposes and exhibit a diversity that contrasts with the idea of a sharp generational change. The articles agree that there are significant age-related changes but they suggest that these changes are mediated by the active appropriation of technology by young people who act purposively and in relation to influential institutional contexts.

Unfortunately, the journal is not open access so if you don't have access through your institution, you will have to pay to read this publically-funded research.

Thanks to Tannis Morgan for bringing this to my attention.