Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Educating the Net Generation


Educating the Net Generation is a collaborative project involving the University of Melbourne, the University of Wollongong, and Charles Sturt University, funded by the ALTC.

http://www.netgen.unimelb.edu.au/

It has been widely suggested, and in some respects accepted, that a so-called Net Generation of students is passing through our universities. Born roughly between 1980 and 1994 these students have been characterised as being

technologically savvy, having grown up in an age where computers, mobile phones and the Internet are part of mainstream culture and society. A number of commentators have even suggested that educators – whom they label ‘digital immigrants’ – need to radically adjust their teaching and learning strategies to accommodate their ‘digital native’ students, predominantly by adopting and capitalising on the affordances of emerging technologies.


This project explored the notion of the Net Generation in higher education to gain a better understanding of:


• students’ and teachers’ current technological experiences and preferences (in the Investigation stage of the project); and

• a range of issues associated with the implementation of emerging technologies in local learning and teaching contexts (in the Implementation stage of the project).


Findings


1. The rhetoric that university students are Digital Natives and university staff are Digital Immigrants is not supported.


2. There is great diversity in students’ and staff experiences with technology, and their preferences for the use of technology in higher education.


3. Emerging technologies afford a range of learning activities that can improve student learning processes, outcomes, and assessment practices.


4. Managing and aligning pedagogical, technical and administrative issues is a necessary condition of success when using emerging technologies for learning.


5. Innovation with learning technologies typically requires the development of new learning and teaching and technology-based skills, which is effortful for both students and staff.


6. The use of emerging technologies for learning and teaching can challenge current university policies in learning and teaching and IT.

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