BBC2’s The Virtual Revolution on Saturday, February 20th will claim that young people’s brains are being rewired by the Internet in such a way that they are:
- unable to concentrate on reading an academic book for study
- incapable of ‘linear’ disciplines like reading and writing at length
The article also states that psychologists claim that ‘within three years, hundreds of thousands of British teenagers will require medication or hospital treatment for mental illnesses caused by excessive web use.’ Sounds a bit like the old arguments about violent video games turning every teenager into a mad-axe killer, TV-watching resulting in square eyes, or masturbation resulting in blindness.
In 2001, Prensky first postulated the concept of the ‘digital native’ – the generation who have grown up with technology to the extent that it is embedded into their lives and even proposed that their brains were different. He argued that teaching and learning needed to change to meet the new expectations, needs and demands of this generation. Although interesting the proposal was not supported by an evidential base.
Kennedy et al research into university study and the ‘digital native’ generation found that ‘assume that being a member of the ‘Net Generation’ is synonymous with knowing how to employ technology based tools strategically to optimise learning experiences.’
There are a number of statements bandied around the Internet about the Google Generation. Some of these include:
- ‘They [the Google Generation] need to feel constantly connected to the web’
- ‘They are the “cut-and-paste” generation’
- ‘They pick up computer skills by trial and error’
- ‘They are expert searchers’
Research has shed some light onto these statements. A report from UCL p19 suggests that of these statements:
Twitter as a teaching tool continues to both interest and puzzle me. From a personal perspective, I use Twitter as as learning tool and have carefully been developing a network of people whom I follow. At the moment though, I use it for consumption and have only ever Tweeted a couple of times.
Whilst studying for H808 The eLearning Professional from the Open University I found and starting following #lrnchat, a fantastic resource for learning although I have not managed to actively participate as yet.
I also did a piece of desktop research (Activity 9-1 Desktop Research Twitter) into the potential educational uses of Twitter and found these to be greater than one might expect. However, I have been unable to try using Twitter as a teaching tool as most of my pre-Generation X adult learners are not familiar with that technology – I may get an opportunity though with a new course I will start delivering in a few weeks time. This is the sort of deferred action-reflection as described by Clegg et al and seems to be something I am experiencing more often as technology moves so quickly presenting new possibilities but not always matched by appropriate opportunities.
Whilst reading #lrnchat daily paper, another way of using Twitter was brought to my attention. In his blog post ‘Twaining in Twitter‘, Terrence Wing looks at how to use the media features of Twitter to create a mini-course for learners. He has created such a Twitter course as both an example and a ‘how-to’: http://twitter.com/#!/ISD20/favorites I have done something similar to this myself previously using Facebook for a specific group of learners (Facebook Don’t Fight It Use It) – never thought to think how it could be done of Twitter.
For my older adult learners, Twitter has some advantages over Facebook. All of my adult learners have mobile phones, although only one or two have Smartphones. This means that they can access Twitter (if we created accounts via the net first) – and most can access images but not video. I’m not sure that it would benefit the current group in terms of enhancing learning, but I can see how a short pre-course course via Twitter could be useful to introduce some basic concepts.
Something to ponder further and to try when a suitable opportunity arises.
Whilst driving back from my class tonight, I was musing on Kranzberg’s second law in relation to my teaching.
The class I teach on a Monday evening is a lipreading class for adults with an acquired hearing loss. When I first started teaching the subject in 1995, I used a whiteboard, flipchart and OHP – oh and an Amstrad with 5 1/2 inch discs for preparing materials. As technology developed I switched to a Windows PC for prep. and more recently a data projector and electronic whiteboard instead of the OHP.