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Educating the Net Generation

, James L. Oblinger ,    
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iconZusammenfassungen

The Net Generation has grown up with information technology. The aptitudes, attitudes, expectations, and learning styles of Net Gen students reflect the environment in which they were raised—one that is decidedly different from that which existed when faculty and administrators were growing up. This collection explores the Net Gen and the implications for institutions in areas such as teaching, service, learning space design, faculty development, and curriculum. Contributions by educators and students are included.
Von Klappentext im Buch Educating the Net Generation (2005)
Educating the Net Generation is an e-book, downloadable for free from the Educause site. It is a collection of 15 articles by American authors who proceed from the assumption that a new generation of students has entered higher education, one that Marc Prensky (2001) refers to as ‘digital natives’. And like other books that describe the Internet generation phenomenon (Gee, 2003; Tapscott, 1998), this too begins with an introduction to the editors’ own domestic experiences with the generation in question. For many readers this makes the subject recognisable: children splayed on the couch watching television, stealing a quick look at the computer before reinstalling themselves, checking their email and text messages first thing in the morning etc.
In the book two digital natives tell their own stories, including the entertaining tale about a conversation with a history professor who confesses he neither reads his e-mail nor listens to his voice mail. This is apparently a total revelation to the student in question.
In the first nine articles the book deals primarily with the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the primary process, i. e. learning itself. It first describes what distinguishes the net generation from all previous ones, listing rather simplistic differences with Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y. The net generation was born between 1982 and 1991. Lacking a name is the generation now 14 years old, and by default is occasionally dubbed the Next Generation. This generation is seen, however, as a continuation of the net generation in terms of its use of technology, only with increasing intensity.
Key terms appearing in several articles in the book’s first part are interaction, views on technology, independence, relevance and immediacy. At the essence of the net generation, these concepts are ones that education will have to be based upon. Interaction is crucial for the net generation, whether it be interaction with teachers, a fellow student, a computer or a network. A communicator, the ‘net gener’ feels that communication is no surrogate for physical contact. This feature fits well with a constructivist approach to education, but interestingly the book hardly even mentions the word.
Characteristics of the net generation are taken directly, listing relevant tools, to list ways and measures to adapt education if it is to meet the needs of the net generation. Unfortunately, the issues whether and why adaptations are necessary and in what theoretical framework these changes should be embedded, receive less attention. The same goes for aspects such as views on technology held by ‘net geners’. They describe technology as ‘something that allows you to do what you want’, not as something you experience. According to the authors, this view leads to the recommendation to create useful tools and applications. The term immediacy is understood by the authors as making sure that questions are answered within x hours. And relevance would mean that authentic assignments should be introduced into the classroom. The book offers a perspective on the net generation and what it wants, linking these generations’ characteristics to practical measures for adapting and aligning education. In itself this is valuable and to that extent the book provides an excellent view of the possibilities that exist for closing the gap between traditional higher education and the zapping generation. Perhaps I have thought too hard about what it means to think digitally instead of simply behaving digitally. What, after all, is the essential difference between analogue and digital? Nowhere in the book do I find what the editors views are on learning and knowledge. This I feel is a pity, because taking a stand on these issues is crucial to how one sees education. If the difference between analogue and digital is in fact the manipulability of data, then in mathematics education for instance it means that a formula that is manipulable allows learning by experiment. And learning by experiment provides the possibility of gaining a deeper insight into principles and concepts, i. e. developing mathematical understanding in this case. This is more important than applying formulas as a crutch for calculation. If you then package experiments in a game, you add the principle feature of a game, i. e. freedom of action. Freedom-of-action learning implies motivation and involvement, precisely what game developers have grasped so well as the primary principle for all those increasingly complex games that keep the net generation shut up in their rooms for hours at a time. Thus, learning by gaming is not merely connecting to a youth culture that love to play trivial games (with the emphasis on ‘trivial’), rather it embraces a considerable range of principal issues central to educating people. Such reflections are lacking in this book, but if you are not looking for them it contains a sufficient number of chapters worth reading, such as chapters 2, 4 and 8.
Chapter 9 is followed by a number of articles dealing with secondary or education-supporting processes. These include requisite infrastructures, developing services for students so that they can work easily in a high-tech environment, training staff to work in such an environment, and lastly organisation, i. e. management of change. As regards the last of these, the author in question claims traditional universities are conservative in their approach, emphasising shared management. Such a culture is not really conducive to bringing about transformation, as it lacks forcefulness. This is a lucid observation and in the Netherlands it is a lesson we are learning from universities undergoing change. Universities are European Unions in miniature. Policy plans abound, but when it comes to changing constitutions not a single proposal makes it to the finishing line. Higher education is a question of wading along in thick tar, all the way up to your middle.
The book concludes with a look ahead to future scenarios, in particular learning styles, which the editors refer to as ‘mediated immersion’. They compare so-called neo-millennium learning with millennium learning, the former being characterised by greater ‘fluency’ of media, more collective sharing and learning, co-design of learning experiences, more learning in realistic contexts and simulated environments, and more non-linear and associative representations of knowledge than linearly written texts, such as this one. The language of image will thus see increasing use and, in the process, will require iconic skills. Such skills enable people to extract information from images. In this sense the net generation already has a considerable advantage.
We all know that such scenarios never materialise as predicted, but they do serve to inspire us to shape the future. In this regard the book’s final chapter is certainly successful. I therefore recommend that you download Educating the Net Generation and print out any information relevant to you.
Source: www.elearning-reviews.org/
Von Wim Veen, erfasst im Biblionetz am 20.06.2006

iconKapitel Unter den anklickbaren Kapiteln finden Sie Informationen über einzelne Teile des gewählten Werks.

  • 1. Introduction    
  • 2. Is It Age or IT - First Steps Toward Understanding the Net Generation    
  • 3. Technology and Learning Expectations of the Net Generation (Gregory R. Roberts)    
  • 4. Using Technology as a Learning Tool, Not Just the Cool New Thing (Ben McNeely)    

iconDieses Buch erwähnt...


Personen
KB IB clear
Don Tapscott

Begriffe
KB IB clear
Digital ImmigrantsDigital Immigrants, Digital NativesDigital Natives, informal learninginformal learning, Interaktioninteraction, Simulation, Unterricht, Visualisierungvisualization
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Bücher
Jahr UmschlagTitelAbrufeIBOBKBLB
1997  Growing Up Digital (Don Tapscott) 6, 8, 10, 2, 5, 5, 8, 8, 5, 6, 4, 47011745358

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Nicht erwähnte Begriffe
formal learning

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Buchcover

The Horizon Report 2008

(Laurence F. Johnson, Alan Levine, Rachel S. Smith) (2008)    
Buchcover

Writing, Technology and Teens

(Amanda Lenhart, Sousan Arafeh, Aaron Smith, Alexandra Rankin Macgill) (2008)   
Buchcover

media education

literacy, learning and contemporary culture

(David Buckingham) (2003)

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