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1. A Vision of Students Today




2. What Does The Research Tell Us?


If you've watched the videos, visited the Web 2.0 Directory web site and had a look at the Anderson report in "What is Web 2.0?" then you will have an idea about what Web 2.0 "is" and you will have some understanding of what the advent of Web 2.0 applications and services might mean for teaching and learning. However if the use of Web 2.0 tools in teaching is to be successful, we need to address at least two questions. The first question has to do with readiness of teachers and students to make use of the tools. The second question has to do with the reason(s) for making use of these tools.

It is tempting to think that teachers and students are on different sides of the digital divide. Many of today's students will be members of the so called Net Generation. This term refers to individuals born between 1980 and 1994 (roughly). Members of the Net Generation are said to have grown up with technologies that they take for granted and it has been suggested that the Net Generation have a greater interest in and greater aptitude for using digital technologies than previous generations. Familiarity and aptitude are said to translate into a different skill set and different learning styles. For example, the Net Generation are said to better at multi-tasking and to prefer active learning. In contrast Digital Immigrants - those who have come to technology rather than being brought up with it - are characterized as in some sense struggling to come to terms with technologies rather than taking them for granted.

However, in one of the few substantial studies in this area, Gregor Kennedy and his colleagues have shown that the digital divide between "natives" and immigrants" is nowhere near as pronounced as we might imagine. Based on a survey of 2588 students and 108 staff across 3 Australian Universities Kennedy et al write,

Students and staff clearly rely on core technologies for the fairly traditional purposes of communication and information gathering, while other technologies are clearly on the fringe, used by a few but nowhere near the majority. The evidence from this investigation does not support the notion that a homogeneous group of students, broadly adept with the latest technology, is now entering our universities.
Additionally,
  1. The fact that some students do use Web 2.0 tools in their private lives does not mean that they want to use these tools for education.
  2. There is some evidence that students have a very traditional view of teaching and learning as a didactic process and that they see information and communication technologies as providing access to information.
  3. There is some evidence that students have a very traditional view of teaching and learning and that they place a lot of value on face-to-face interaction with their teachers.
  4. There is some evidence that students want to see clear education or social value when technologies are incorporated into the teaching and learning process.

paper_content_pencil_48.png3. Research Articles

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image_add_48.pngGray, K., Kennedy, G., Waycott, J., Dalgarno, B., Bennett, S., Chang, R., et al. (2009). Educating the Net Generation: A Toolkit of Resources for Educators in Australian Universities.
Available from http://www.netgen.unimelb.edu.au/outcomes/toolkit.html

image_add_48.pngJoint Information Systems Committee. (2009). Effective Practice in a Digital Age: A Guide to Technology-Enhanced Learning and Teaching.
Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/documents/effectivepracticedigitalage.aspx

Effective Practice in a Digital Age is designed for those in further and higher education whose focus is on designing and supporting learning: academic staff, lecturers, tutors and learning support staff, facilitators, learning technologists and staff developers. What unites this diverse group is their interest in enhancing the quality of learning and teaching, and a curiosity about how technology can assist them. As a result of the pervasiveness of technology, the term ‘e-learning’ has come under scrutiny. Personal ownership of technologies coupled with access to social software means that all kinds of learning-related activity can potentially be e-enabled; e-learning can no longer be viewed as a purely institutionally based or narrowly defined set of activities. The 2009 revision to the HEFCE e-Learning Strategy, as a consequence, focuses not so much on e-learning as a specialist area as on the broader aim of ‘enhancing learning and teaching through the use of appropriate technology’. The concept of e-learning is thus becoming subsumed into a wider discussion of how learning can be enhanced by more effective and far-reaching uses of digital technologies.
image_add_48.pngKennedy, G., Dalgarno, B., Bennett, S., Gray, K., Waycott, J., Judd, T., et al. (2009). Educating the Net Generation: A Handbook of Resources for Practice and Policy.
Available from http://www.netgen.unimelb.edu.au/outcomes/handBook.html