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Communication Preferences of Postsecondary Learners: Are Net Gen Learners Really that Different?


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Presentation to the Canadian Network for Innovation (CNIE) conference, Ottawa, May 13, 2009.

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Communication Preferences of Postsecondary Learners: Are Net Gen Learners Really that Different?

  1. 1. Communication Preferences of Postsecondary Learners: Are Net Gen Learners Really that Different? Adnan Qayyum, Mark Bullen, Tannis Morgan CNIE 2009, Ottawa
  2. 2. Background to Study <ul><li>Qualitative study conducted at BCIT </li></ul><ul><li>Communication preferences not related to age </li></ul><ul><li>Survey to explore themes that emerged from qualitative study </li></ul><ul><li>Included questions related to generational characteristics </li></ul>5/13/2009
  3. 3. Net Generation Hype 5/13/2009
  4. 4. Net Generation Claims <ul><li>Generalizations about the generation </li></ul><ul><li>Implications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For business </li></ul></ul>5/13/2009
  5. 5. Generalizations about Generation <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>5/13/2009
  6. 6. Generalizations about Generation <ul><li>Sophisticated users of digital technology </li></ul><ul><li>Different relationship with information and media </li></ul><ul><li>Think and learn differently </li></ul><ul><li>Different expectations of school, work and life </li></ul>5/13/2009
  7. 7. Generalizations about Generation <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>5/13/2009
  8. 8. Implications for 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>5/13/2009
  9. 9. Validity of Claims <ul><li>Claims not based on sound research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proprietary research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anecdotal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Speculation taken out of context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biased samples </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reviews of research do not support claims </li></ul><ul><li>Good research tends to contradict many of the claims </li></ul>5/13/2009
  10. 10. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 Source Comments Ipsos-Reid Survey, November 2007, <ul><li>2,313 Internet users in Canada </li></ul><ul><ul><li>teens spend less time than their elders online; they are also more conservative in their use of the technology </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 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>
  12. 12. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 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>
  13. 13. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 Source Comments Bennett, S. , Maton, K. & Kervin, L. (2008). <ul><li>Review of literature </li></ul><ul><li>not a homogeneous generation with technical expertise and a distinctive learning style. </li></ul><ul><li>variations within the generation may be more significant to educators than similarities. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 Source Comments Reeves, T. & Oh, E. (2007). <ul><li>Review of Literature </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.&quot; </li></ul>
  15. 15. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 Source Comments Margaryan, A. & Littlejohn, A. (2008) <ul><li>Study </li></ul><ul><li>students’ shifting expectations and patterns of learning and technology use not a grounds for making radical changes to higher education. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Contradictory Evidence 5/13/2009 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>
  17. 17. 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>5/13/2009
  18. 18. Net Gen Characteristics 5/13/2009 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
  19. 19. Net Gen Characteristics 5/13/2009 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
  20. 20. Communication with Peers 5/13/2009 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 Small relationship WebCT Low Small relationship
  21. 21. Communication with Instructors 5/13/2009 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
  22. 22. 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>5/13/2009
  23. 23. 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>5/13/2009
  24. 24. 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><li>BCIT Net Gen students not significantly different than non Net Gen students </li></ul>5/13/2009
  25. 25. 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>5/13/2009
  26. 26. 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><ul><li>Academic, government, proprietary research </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need to differentiate between generational differences and social change </li></ul>5/13/2009
  27. 27. For More Information [email_address] [email_address] [email_address] 5/13/2009
  28. 28. References <ul><li>Bennett, S. , Maton, K. & Kervin, L. (2008). The `digital natives' 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., & Qayyum, A. (2008). The Net Generation in Higher Education: Rhetoric and Reality. Accepted for publication in the Malaysian Journal of Educational Technology . </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. & Strauss, W. (2000). Millenials Rising: The Next Great Generation . New York: Random House. </li></ul>5/13/2009
  29. 29. 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. </li></ul><ul><li>Kvavik, R.B. (2005). Convenience, Communications, and Control: How Students Use Technology. In D.G. Oblinger & J.L Oblinger (Eds.) Educating the Net Generation, pp. 7.1-7-20. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE. </li></ul><ul><li>Margaryan, A. & Littlejohn, A. (2008). Are digital natives a myth or reality?: Students’ use of technologies for learning. Unpublished paper. </li></ul>5/13/2009
  30. 30. References <ul><li>Oblinger, D.G. & 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. & Oh, E. (2007). Generational Differences. In J.M. Spector, M.D. Merrill, J. van Merrienboer, & 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>5/13/2009
  31. 31. 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. </li></ul>5/13/2009