A recent article in Educational Psychologist sets out to debunk three urban legends in education: Digital Natives, Learning Styles and Self-Educators. This takes me back to the early days of this blog – which was started in no small part because I had a bad feeling about the idea of ‘Digital Natives’ as presented by Marc Prensky and similar ideas from others.
The latest Pew report on Social Media and Young Adults looks at teens and young adults (18-29). Pew report that blogging is now undertaken by about 14% of teens – about half the figure of just a few years ago. Social networking is up nearly three quarters. A small rise is also reported in blogging amongst the 30+.
Overall, not many surprises really, but should give pause for thought regarding the half-life of internet technologies. Today Facebook is king, but for how long? Three years ago would you have predicted that blogging would be in decline? I don’t think I would have – and I don’t think many Web 2.0 mavens did. Social networking in *some form* is almost certainly here to stay. I personally hope the walled gardens are replaced with more truly open approaches.
I’ve been enjoying catching up with the Virtual Revolution series on the BBC. A few firsts for the BBC – the first iPlayer programme available worldwide, and almost all of the uncut interview rushes are available to view online or download – and with a permissive licence allowing editing and resuse. The interviews are available here. Interviewees include:
- Tim Berners-Lee
- Sherry Turkle
- Howard Rheingold
- Arianna Huffington
- Stephen Fry
- Vint Cerf
- … and many others
A fantastic learning resource.The series itself is good viewing, though in a few places I thought the narrative imposed in the first couple of episodes a little off. The first episode almost seemed to claim that the big professional blogs (e.g. Arianna and the Huffington Post) as a self-imposed elite attempting to control the blogosphere. But the Huffington Post doesn’t stop anyone who wants to from creating their own blog – and the rise of the professional blog can hardly be blamed for the millions of dead blogs out there. The bit on ‘balkanization’ was spot on however.
In Episode Two Aleks very conveiniently met the Russian teenager responsible for all the cyber-attacks on Estonia. How do we know he was responsible for all the cyber-attacks? Because he said so. The rushes of that interview are not online though, but wish the link between botnets and other forms of crime were hammered home in that interview. The only people in control of botnets are criminals – so if he was responsible for even some of the attacks, what other criminal activity is he involved in? I have to accept though that Aleks was almost certainly caught off guard with the confession – I’m not sure I’d be able to retain enough composure to ask the right questions in a similar situation.
While leaves Digital Nation, a PBS programme from the US. This has a good collection of interviews online too – mostly from members of the public, and these make a good resource for anyone interested in looking at the effects the internet and mobile technologies are having on modern lives. Check them out here.
If the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ don’t know how to program a computer, are they really digitally literate? In his blog, Tony Forster presents an “argument for the authoring of interactive or programmable multimedia as an important meta-literacy skill.” It’s a good start to this particular discussion, I think.
Certainly, in traditional schooling literacy is not just about reading – it is also about authoring. With digital literacy, in writing blogs or posting videos to YouTube students are using digital technologies while authoring written or visual content. They are acting as consumers of digital technology while producing content. Full digital literacy requires the ability to create new interactive experiences – i.e. programming. This view is also presented by Mitch Resnick et. al. in their recent paper for CACM:
Resnick, M., Maloney, J., Monroy-Hernández, A., Rusk, N., Eastmond, E., Brennan, K., et al. (2009). Scratch: programming for all. Commun. ACM, 52(11), 60-67. doi: 10.1145/1592761.1592779
The Byron Review was published a couple of days ago. I would have blogged it at the time, but I’m busy…
You can get the report here: Safer Children in a Digital World: the report of the Byron Review
The report has been fairly well received by the media and the industry overall – if not welcomed in its entirety. What I found most interesting though was that the review comes not just in two the usual summary and full report versions, but a third version for children to read themselves is also available.
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!
The ____ Generation. Insert one of:
Google, iPod, Gamer, MySpace, Nintendo, Now, N, Net, Multi-tasking, Benefits, Facebook.
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?
Last month’s Wired had an interesting piece titled “Despite the Web, Americans Remain Woefully Ill-Informed”. It should be here, but I get a content not found error message. Instead, you can search for “wired infoporn” on Google and check the cached version of the page…
More than a decade after the Internet went mainstream, the world’s richest information source hasn’t necessarily made its users any more informed. A new study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that Americans, on average, are less able to correctly answer questions about current events than they were in 1989. Citizens who call the Internet their primary news source know slightly less than fans of TV and radio news.
Blended Learning 2007 (Part 2)
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.