Last week when I was in London at the Researching Second Life event, I chanced upon the Grauniad in a coffee shop (I was a little early with some time to kill) – and a Steve Johnson article ‘Dawn of the Digital Natives‘. This is a response to a scary report from the US National Endowment for the Arts (‘To Read or Not to Read’), and Johnson argues quite persuasively that the findings of the report are exaggerated and that there is little cause for alarm based on the data presented.
In ignoring screen-based reading from the study, Johnson accuses the NEA of “sleight of hand”, but I think he is equally guilty of using some degree of sleight of hand in his own arguments…
For a moment lets not wonder whether digital native is an appropriate term for today’s youth (or even today’s under 36′s if we go by the cut-off originally proposed by Prensky). Instead, whatever they are, can we find an alternative suitable name for the new generation of youth? Take your pick, the following are all ones I’ve found in literature or popular press in recent days, weeks and months. Sometimes I see several of these in the one day!
To help you choose I undertook a *highly* scientific survey of popularity of each. I googled each term, and have ranked them below. Try and order them before you see the results – how many did you get right?
When I saw the title of this Futurelab Flux blog entry, at first I thought it was a response to “Google University” book (see recent post here), while in fact it summarises yet another report which is making the same basic points:
The report by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web.
But then it goes one step further, and finds that these bad habits are now commonplace amongst older users too…
Some of the most interesting stuff presented at the recent DiGRA Scotland day was from Derek Robertson from Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). Derek’s blog is the Consolarium, which is regularly updated. The focus is on games-based learning in Scotland, but included updates on studies of much wider interest.
The particular example I was most impressed by on the day was a study on ways of improving childrens arithmetic performance which compared Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training and Brain Gym (a movement exercise program which aims to help stimulate students. The exercise bit seems to work, though the pseudo-science behind it has been criticized, however. See here). A third, control, group was also assessed – making the study reasonably rigorous, although some issues over equivalence are noted in the case study, which you can find here. (Also look out for other GBL projects – one featuring Guitar Hero!)
I currently have in my possession the book ‘Games and Simulations in Online Learning‘, edited by David Gibson, Clark Aldrich and Marc Prensky. Not got very far with it yet, but have taken note of the very well put foreword from Chris Dede and some issues with the chapter ‘Gamer Teachers’…
Perspectives on Communicating with the Net Generation by Zimmerman and Milligan, new paper in Innovate, the Journal of Online Learning. Accurate picture, I think, of typical and common issues in student/tutor communication. IMHO Falls down, however, in its uncritical acceptance of the broad collection of ‘digital native’ concepts, without appropriate critique.
Free journal but you have to register to get access to articles.
And now, belatedly, time to write up my reflections from Blended Learning all those weeks ago… knowing I’ve got a paper and a half to write today as well.
The subtitle of the conference was ‘Supporting the Net Generation Learner’, which I’ll admit did leave me a little worried that the general message I would hear would be a simple re-iteration of all the usual Digital Natives tropes and clichés. Instead, through the different talks, presentations and lunch and break-time discussions the message was quite different. The Net Generation needs our help.
In this post I’ll try and set out some of the differences between the concepts of ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Net Generation’, and why they matter.
Barbara Combes has written an article based on her research outlining how comfort with technology does not imply competency. Her PhD focussed on information seeking behaviours of the ‘Net Generation’, and her findings are well aligned with many of the past discussions and notes on this blog about Digital Natives… Continue reading →