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The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education
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The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education

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Keynote presentation made at the TLT conference in Regina, Saskatchewan - April 28, 2009

Keynote presentation made at the TLT conference in Regina, Saskatchewan - April 28, 2009

Published in: Technology, Education
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  • Okay, I took another look at the John Seely-Brown article, Growing Up Digital. It is a thoughtful piece that describes the social dimension of learning and how the Internet can help create a new learning ecology that brings together explict and tacit knowledge and allows learners to become immersed in a community of practice.

    At the beginning of the article, however, he makes a number of claims about how today's youth learn. It's the typical net gen stuff: they multiprocess and they do it well, they have digital literacy, the ability to read not just text but image and multimedia, they learn by doing, they are 'bricoleurs'. He doesn't explain this concept very clearly but I think he means the ability to build meaning and understanding by making connections between ideas through discovery. None of these claims are supported by evidence which is not problem. This isn't a research article. The problem is, Seely-Brown's claims about today's youth are cited by other Net Gen writers (Obllinger 2005; Hartman et al., 2005) to support their dubious claims. And this is one of my main critiques: educators need to be much more careful about the evidence they use to support their claims. Just because somebody wrote it doesn't make it true.
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  • Thanks Frances and thanks to guest765bd.

    I certainly agree that anecdotal data is useful and I am not suggesting we ignore it. The problem I see though is that the 'research' on this issue tends to use anecdotal observations to confirm preconceptions. If the anecodotal data were collected as part of a well-designed study we could have some confidence about its value. As it is, because much of the research is proprietary we don't have these details and the research that does provide details doesn't inspire much confidence.

    I take your point about a defining set of issues but the problem with people like Tapscott is they don't stop at that. They generalize to the entire generation and make radical recommendations based on those defining issues.

    I'll have to take another look at the John Seely Brown article.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    Mark.
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  • I really like this Mark - came here via Shareski on Twitter. All power to your critique of poorly evidenced claims. It's the snake oil salesmen using technological determinism to flog us their products. We need educators who use technology as part of the context not see it as the goal.
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    • 1. The Net Generation: Myths, Realities and Implications for Higher Education Mark Bullen TL T, Regina, April 28, 2009
    • 2. Introduction <ul><li>Net Generation idea firmly entrenched </li></ul><ul><li>Few are questioning the validity of the claims </li></ul><ul><li>Major decisions are being made based on hype and self-serving advice pushed by consultants </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 3. Outline <ul><li>What is it and who cares? </li></ul><ul><li>Claims about the Net Generation </li></ul><ul><li>Net Generation literature </li></ul><ul><li>Contrary evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Implications </li></ul><ul><li>Concluding remarks </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 4. Introduction <ul><li>What is the Net Generation? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Born after 1982 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More than a generational label </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Who cares? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact on education </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 5. Net Generation Hype 4/23/09
    • 6. Net Gen Hype <ul><li>Don Tapscott </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 7. Net Generation Hype <ul><li>Tapscott, 2009: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The current…model of education…is not appropriate for kids who have grown up digital and are used to interacting with people, not just listening. The old educational model might have been suitable for the Industrial Age, but it makes no sense for the digital economy, or for the new generation of learners. We should change the education system to make it relevant to them.” </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 8. Net Generation Hype <ul><li>Oblinger &amp; Oblinger, 2005: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Only by understanding the Net Generation can colleges and universities create learning environments that optimize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Technology has changed the Net Generation, just as it is now changing higher education.” </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 9. Net Generation Hype <ul><li>Prensky, 2001: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Digital Natives accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics- first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, MTV, and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well meaning as it may be. The cognitive differences of the Digital Natives cry out for new approaches to education with a better fit.” </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 10. Net Generation Hype <ul><li>Barone, 2005: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The arrival of the Net Generation on campus is causing unrest in the classroom. A wave of young people empowered to create knowledge, not merely absorb it, now flows in and out of the classroom, calling into question the convictions and processes that have served as the foundation of traditional higher education. It remains to be seen whether traditional higher education will adjust sufficiently to truly engage the Net Generation. “ </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 11. Net Generation Claims <ul><li>Immersion in digital technology makes them fundamentally different than other generations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technologies used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How they use technology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Profound impact </li></ul><ul><li>“ today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently than their predecessors. These differences go further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize” – Prensky, 2001 </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 12. Net Generation Claims <ul><li>What are the differences? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sophisticated users of digital technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different relationship with information and media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think and learn differently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different expectations of school, work and life </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 13. Net Generation Characteristics <ul><li>Expert multitaskers </li></ul><ul><li>Need immediate feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Prefer teamwork, collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential learners </li></ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul><ul><li>Ambitious </li></ul><ul><li>Career-oriented </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Customization </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 14. Implications for Higher Education <ul><li>Shift from architecture of presentation to architecture of participation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multimedia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expect to be entertained </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personalized learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital game-based learning </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 15. Validity of Claims <ul><li>Claims not based on sound research </li></ul><ul><li>North American bias </li></ul><ul><li>Reviews of research do not support claims </li></ul><ul><li>Research tends to contradict many of the claims </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 16. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Howe, N. &amp; Strauss. W. (2000). Millenials Rising <ul><li>Based on two surveys: 200 school teachers, 660 students in Fairfax county, VA. </li></ul><ul><li>Claims: </li></ul><ul><li>focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty, and good conduct </li></ul>
    • 17. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Oblinger &amp; Oblinger (2005). Educating the Net Generation <ul><li>Mostly speculation or anecdotal observations </li></ul><ul><li>Claims: </li></ul><ul><li>unprecedented levels of skills with information technology </li></ul><ul><li>take technology for granted </li></ul><ul><li>want more of it in their classes, </li></ul><ul><li>postsecondary institutions aren&apos;t responding fast enough to meet their needs </li></ul>
    • 18. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Tapscott (1998). Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation <ul><li>Based on discussions with 300 children </li></ul><ul><li>Members of an online discussion group </li></ul><ul><li>Balanced for gender, geography socio-economic status </li></ul><ul><li>Claims: </li></ul><ul><li>Force for social transformation </li></ul><ul><li>Access to interactive, digital technologies is creating a generation of critical thinkers </li></ul>
    • 19. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Tapscott (2009). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. <ul><li>Sample of 7685 randomly selected Internet users, stratified to avoid gender or socioeconomic bias. </li></ul><ul><li>Online questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook group of over 200 people. </li></ul><ul><li>Global online network TakingITGlobal hosted discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Claims </li></ul><ul><li>Same claims as Tapscott (1998) </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Customization </li></ul><ul><li>Scrutiny </li></ul><ul><li>Integrity </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment </li></ul><ul><li>Speed </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation </li></ul>
    • 20. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part 1 &amp; 2 <ul><li>Speculation </li></ul><ul><li>Claims </li></ul><ul><li>Use of technology is changing the physical structure of the brain </li></ul>Seely-Brown, J. (2002). Growing Up Digital <ul><li>Anecdotal observations of 15 yr. olds working in Xerox Lab </li></ul>Frand, J. (2000). The information-age Mindset <ul><li>Speculation </li></ul>
    • 21. The Literature <ul><ul><li>“ rather than being empirically and theoretically informed, the debate can be likened to an academic form of a moral panic that restricts critical and rational debate ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bennett, S. , Maton, K. &amp; Kervin, L. (2008). </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 22. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Ipsos-Reid Survey, November 2007, <ul><li>2,313 Internet users in Canada </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Results belies a common belief that young people are most at ease in cyberspace, with the study suggesting that not only do teens spend less time than their elders online; they are also more conservative in their use of the technology” </li></ul></ul>
    • 23. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Kennedy et. Al. (2006) <ul><li>Survey of 2588 students at three Australian universities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of collaborative, Web 2.0 technologies low. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ To accept the claims of some of the commentators on the changes needed in universities to cater for this generation of students without undertaking further research is likely to be a substantial mistake. </li></ul></ul>
    • 24. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments University of Guelph (2008) <ul><li>Survey of 2706 students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reluctant to mix personal and academic use of computers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May not use technology the way we expect them to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of online social networks for academic use is low </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rather than trying to find ways to use technologies, should determine what students need and based decisions on those needs </li></ul></ul>
    • 25. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Bennett, S. , Maton, K. &amp; Kervin, L. (2008). <ul><li>Review of literature </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is apparent that there is scant evidence to support this idea, and that emerging research challenges notions of a homogeneous generation with technical expertise and a distinctive learning style. Instead it suggests variations within this population, which may be more significant to educators than similarities” </li></ul>
    • 26. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Reeves, T. &amp; Oh, E. (2007). <ul><li>Literature review </li></ul><ul><li>“ Most of the popular literature on the subject...appears to rest on limited data, almost always conducted by survey methods characterized by a lack of reliability and validity data.&amp;quot; </li></ul>
    • 27. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments Margaryan, A. &amp; Littlejohn, A. (2008) <ul><li>Review of literature </li></ul><ul><li>&amp;quot;The outcomes suggest that although the calls for radical transformations in educational approaches may be legitimate it would be misleading to ground the arguments for such change solely in students’ shifting expectations and patterns of learning and technology use.&amp;quot; </li></ul>
    • 28. The Literature 4/23/09 Source Comments University College of London (2008) <ul><li>Comprehensive study of the information-seeking behaviour of the Net Generation (post 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>Poor information literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Fail to critically evaluate information found on Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Lack effective search skills </li></ul>
    • 29. BCIT Study <ul><li>Communication preferences of students </li></ul><ul><li>Two part study </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Part 1: interviewed 69 students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Part 2: Survey (442 students in 14 courses) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Questions based on Net Gen literature and Part 1 of study </li></ul><ul><li>Self-reporting </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 30. Net Gen Characteristics 4/23/09 Item Level of Agreement Significance Digitally literate High Not significant Connected Moderately high Small relationship Multitasking Moderately high Small relationship Experiential learning Moderately high Not significant Structured learning Moderately high Not significant
    • 31. Net Gen Characteristics 4/23/09 Item Level of Agreement Significance Group work Low Small relationship Social Moderately high Not significant Goal oriented Moderate Not significant Preference for text Moderate Small relationship Community minded Moderate Not significant
    • 32. Communication with Peers 4/23/09 Mode Level of Use Significance BCIT email Moderate Not significant Personal email Moderately high Not significant Instant messaging Moderate Small relationship Text message (phone) Moderately high Small relationship Facebook/ MySpace Moderate Small relationship Talking via phone Moderately high Small relationship Talking in person High Not significant WebCT Low Not significant
    • 33. Communication with Instructors 4/23/09 Mode Level of Use Significance BCIT email Moderate Not significant Personal email Moderate Not significant Instant messaging Low Not significant Text message (phone) Low Not significant Facebook/ MySpace Low Not significant Talking via phone Low Not significant Talking in person High Not significant WebCT Low Small relationship
    • 34. Implications <ul><li>Students have a basic level of comfort with many ICTs - not related to generation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited toolkit (email, texting, cell phones) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Driven by ubiquity, self-organizing capabilities, type of communication it provides (distance/proximity), practicality </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure, program specific technologies and software more valued </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 35. Implications <ul><li>Group work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not highly preferred, even though students are highly social and consider themselves to be highly connected because of ICTs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students spend 7-8 hours, 5 days/week on campus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Heavy course load </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to communicate and collaboration is not the problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivation for group work? Appropriateness of group work? </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 36. Implications <ul><li>Generation does not explain communication and technology preferences and use </li></ul><ul><li>BCIT Net Gen students not significantly different than non Net Gen students </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 37. Implications <ul><li>Generation does not explain technology use or learning preferences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Context matters--nature of programs, program design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision making based on needs of your learners </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Co-Researchers: Adnan Qayyum, Tannis Morgan </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 38. Concluding Remarks <ul><li>Ask the right questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who are our learners? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How are today’s learners different from (or the same as) faculty/administrators? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What learning activities are most engaging for learners? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are there ways to use IT to make learning more successful? </li></ul></ul>4/23/09
    • 39. Concluding Remarks <ul><li>Social vs. educational use of technology </li></ul><ul><li>Educators need to be much more critical </li></ul><ul><li>Value of academic research </li></ul><ul><li>Need to differentiate between generational differences and social change </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 40. For More Information 4/23/09 http://netgennonsense.blogspot.com [email_address]
    • 41. References <ul><li>Bennett, S. , Maton, K. &amp; Kervin, L. (2008). The `digital natives&apos; debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology 39 (5), 775-786. </li></ul><ul><li>Bullen, M., Morgan, T., Belfer, K., &amp; Qayyum, A. (2008). The Net Generation in Higher Education: Rhetoric and Reality. Accepted for publication in the Malaysian Journal of Educational Technology . http://www.box.net/shared/fxqyutottt </li></ul><ul><li>Frand, J. (2000). The Information-Age Mindset: Changes in Students and Implications for Higher Education. EDUCAUSE Review, September/October 2000, 15-24. </li></ul><ul><li>Howe, N. &amp; Strauss, W. (2000). Millenials Rising: The Next Great Generation . New York: Random House. </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 42. References <ul><li>Kennedy et. Al. (2007). The net generation are not big users of Web 2.0 technologies: Preliminary findings . Paper presented at the ASCILITE conference, Singapore. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/kennedy.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Kvavik, R.B. (2005). Convenience, Communications, and Control: How Students Use Technology. In D.G. Oblinger &amp; J.L Oblinger (Eds.) Educating the Net Generation, pp. 7.1-7-20. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE. </li></ul><ul><li>Margaryan, A. &amp; Littlejohn, A. (2008). Are digital natives a myth or reality?: Students’ use of technologies for learning. Unpublished paper. http://www.academy.gcal.ac.uk/anoush/documents/DigitalNativesMythOrReality-MargaryanAndLittlejohn-draft-111208.pdf </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 43. References <ul><li>Oblinger, D.G. &amp; Oblinger, J.L. (Eds) (2005). Educating the Net Generation . Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE. </li></ul><ul><li>Prensky, M. (2001a). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9 (5) </li></ul><ul><li>Prensky, M. (2001b ). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II; Do They Really Think Differently? On the Horizon, 9 (6). </li></ul><ul><li>Reeves, T. &amp; Oh, E. (2007). Generational Differences. In J.M. Spector, M.D. Merrill, J. van Merrienboer, &amp; M.P. Driscoll (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology , 295-303. </li></ul><ul><li>Seely-Brown, J. (2002). Growing Up Digital . USDLA Journal, 16 (2). </li></ul>4/23/09
    • 44. References <ul><li>Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation . Toronto: McGraw-Hill. </li></ul><ul><li>Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown Up Digital: How The Net Generation is Changing Your World . Toronto: McGraw-Hill. </li></ul><ul><li>University College London (2008) . Information Behaviour of the Research of the Future. http://www.bl.uk/news/pdf/googlegen.pdf </li></ul>4/23/09

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