As we close the term, ETEC540 has certainly evolved into more than the sum of it’s parts…. it’s many, many, many parts. Reading the syllabus prior to registering, and then looking through the prefatory materials during the first few days, did little to prepare me for the absolute growth that I’ve experienced over the past thirteen weeks. From Plato’s Phaedrus to Xanadu, the combination of my personal notes, the collaborative blog, the wiki, and the two sections’ worth of forum postings is a trip down memory lane, if memory lane is the Vegas strip or Tokyo’s Shibyua Crossing (and coming from a villager of Haida Gwaii, that is saying a lot!)
Throughout this course I have continued to think back of the Global Objective #5 listed in our Prefatory Materials: Students will consider how the “information explosion,” caused in part by the development of increasingly efficient vehicles for the creation and circulation of text, has modified human understandings of what it means to be educated.”
What does it mean to be educated? As Bolter mentions in his ninth chapter, I feel that the process of “being educated” involves an ongoing remediation of the ways in which we think about and interact with the world and the “definitions” around us (Bolter, 2001, pg. 189). It now seems that I can’t go a day without coming across some piece of news that links to this course- For example, this month’s Popular Mechanics magazine predicts after tablet computers will come scrolls (pg. 80). After learning about the field of haptics, I now consider the tactile sensations that come with using writing tools. When I hear of new words, I almost compulsively look them up in the OED to learn about their roots and connections. The sensations that come from interacting with language and literacy, as it continues to be remediated by technology, is almost a synesthetic experience – stimulation in one medium immediately evokes that of another, and that experience continues to cycle. We no longer just hear audio, we visualize it; we no longer just read text, we hear it, we no longer scribe letters, we type them, but at the same time we hear the click of the keyboard, see the mechanical motion translate into an electronic creation, and then remix that as well in a continual loop. I feel like I will be “making connections” between what I’ve been exposed to in ETEC540 for a long time to come.
Bolter discusses writings of different types of minds – Analytical, Cartesian, electronic writing and the postmodern self (Bolter, 2001, Ch. 9). One unexpected product of this course was that it acted as a technology-assisted text showcase – Especially during Rip.Mix.Feed which was, of course, more current than any of our assigned readings could be (for example, many of the tools listed in Alexander’s (2006) article were no longer in existence). With thirty nine MET students between our two sections, the break out of so many useful textual tools in ETEC540 only makes me wish I had more time to explore them all. The insane thing here is that despite all of the resources that we can pool as a group of learners, each of our own classroom or work context would likely produce at least as many, if not more tools; many of which would be different than the ones contained in the present work. The potential textures of writing that this collection could create is again, an explosion, but one that we are becoming accustomed to.
Alexander, B. (2006) “Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?” Educause Review, 41(2), 34-44. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0621.pdf
Around the corner: 2012-2022. (2012, December). Popular Mechanics, 189(12), pg. 80.
Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN: 0-8058-2919-9
Educating the Net Generation
In educating the net generation it is vital to show awareness of their unique educational needs, without which the benefit of their education is questionable. Both educators and the tools and techniques they use must rise to the challenge of presenting information in a way that is dynamic and engaging for the net generation who have grown up in front of computer screens and alongside the Internet. The more traditional approaches to teaching no longer provide the same benefits for these students as their learning styles and needs have changed as quickly as the technology they now turn to when seeking knowledge (Mabrito & Medley, 2008; Tapscott, 1999). This new relationship between students and knowledge has led many schools, often post secondary, to attempt new methods to bridge the gap between student and learning.
For example, many universities and colleges have attempted to update their libraries by creating live chat features, mobile help desks, and email surveys. The responses to these new elements, however, have shown that it is not simply any technology that connects with the net generation, rather they disliked many of these new alternatives and rarely made use of them (Ismail, 2010). Ismail’s study at the Marywood University Library, suggested that students did not want to make use of their social technology or live chat options for research in an academic setting, rather they wanted to use ‘older’ options like technology or in person help desks (Ismail, 2010, p. 20). To some, including Ismail, this seemed contradictory to what most people think about the net generation – if they are not interested in utilizing the newest, fastest technology, then what do they need to be successful in education?
The question then, is perhaps not what the newest educational technology is, but which is the best suited to students’ needs. The increase in successful online learning programs demonstrates that the net generation has at least some interest in making use of technology in their education (Llanos, 2007) while educators are curious to see what can be done with the myriad of options (Dupler, 2007). This combination of willing students and experimenting educators has the potential to expand the realm of education into something that better meets the needs of this unique generation of learners, whether it is the use of the Internet, podcasts, or even games (Dupler, 2007).
Given the variety of tools available for engaging the net generation, much discussion and research has gone into evaluating the most popular of the options. This means, for the most part, that universities and colleges like Marywood (Ismail, 2010) introduced a new technology and then reviewed how it went. Vincini (2005) suggests that instead of pursuing the trial and error approach with educational technology, institutes seeking to reach net generation students would be better served by making use of a set of guidelines that help filter out good and bad options. Included in those guidelines is the need for active learning involving “Interaction, feedback, and collaboration” (Vincini, 2005, p. 1), which specifically details the elements that accompany clicker response systems, blogs, and wikis. Even in the isolated realm of this program (UBC’s MET Program, specifically ETEC 540, Fall 2012) these elements compose the majority of the online courses and are thus vital elements to the success of both the program and the students, even though not all of them are members of the net generation. The requirement that these aspects share and encourage is that of active learning, which ties closely to the next guideline, that of learning by doing. By engaging learners with material and elevating information to something interactive, more learning styles are being met, both for net generation learners and for others. Vincini goes on to introduce tools designed by Tufts that include these aspects, though this is not surprising given that the tools were created by the University who published the article (2005).
In seeking to meet the needs of the new generation of net learners it is not always a question of why we should adapt to meet their special needs, but more so a question of how. In working towards the goals of engaging with this group of learners on a higher level and through means that they both relate to and are inspired by, their education develops into something more than simply knowledge gain. The use of active tools that may break with the less student centered models encourages the net generation to embrace their learning, while giving them experiences to connect with the knowledge they gain. In other words, taking the time to meet the needs of the net generation has the potential to enhance education for everyone, while bringing teaching into a realm of near limitless potential, the realm of technology.
Dupler, M. (2007). Technology could draw “net gen”. Tri-City Herald.
Ismail, L. (2010). What net generation students really want: Determining library help-seeking preferences of undergraduates. Reference services review, 38 (1), pp. 10-27.
Llanos, C. (2007). Digital education a virtual reality. Oakland tribune.
Mabrito, M., Medley, R. (2008) Why professor johnny can’t read: Understanding the net generation’s texts. Innovate. 4 (6). Retrieved November 16th, 2012 from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=510&action=article
Tapscott, D. (1999). Educating the net generation. Educational leadership.
Vincini, P. (2005). Learning tools for the net generation. Academic technology at tufts.