The Other Research on Students

Starting perhaps with Mark Prensky’s definitions of “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” in his 2001 article, online teachers hear a lot about the Net Gen students. I continually point people toward the 2005 EDUCAUSE book “Educating the Net Generation“, and there are many resources saying that our upcoming college students are tech-savvy information seekers who love technology. The conclusion is that we’d better get with the program and jazz stuff up to ensure “engagement”. I’ve been immersed in this for a long time, speaking the language, walking the walk and talking the talk.

That always felt odd, because my own experience with my own students didn’t back it up. They don’t seem to know how to do basic maneuvers on the internet, even inside a CMS. They don’t seem that interested in technology, though they use cell phones incessantly and listen to their MP3 players in class while watching skateboarding contests at YouTube on their laptops.

Now I’ve been reading things that back up what I’ve been seeing. Partly I’m relieved. Partly I want to go back to everyone I’ve ever talked to about Net Genners and say, “wait! I was wrong!” Mostly I want to reassure novice online instructors that they don’t have to worry that the students know the technology better than they do. They have to worry that they have no idea how to use it for academic work. (If you watched my video from my presentation at San Diego City College, you know I spent a lot of time on this although I hadn’t planned to!)

So here’s what I’ve been reading:

Maybe these will make you feel better too.

3 comments to The Other Research on Students

  • Lisa,

    I have experienced the same interactions with students that you have. Undergraduate preservice teachers, like most of their counterparts in other disciplines, are great with technology for personal entertainment and some productivity. But when it comes to understanding that these tools can be used in the classroom, they are at a loss.

    Last semester I had my students work on a group activity and upload their information by cell phone to my GabCast site. We watched the website as each group’s recording loaded – no refresh needed. They were absolutely amazed that their cell phones could be used for a sound educational purpose.

    The one advantage that this generation does have over previous generations is their exposure to technology. Even though they might be a little apprehensive at the beginning, most catch on quickly and then take off running. I think less digital immigrants have these types of responses. Many of us are still scared we’ll break something. I think the digital native/net gen lose their fears more quickly.

    Thanks for a good post, Lisa.

  • Hi Lisa,

    I browsed through your blog and couldn’t find your e-mail address or any contact info. I’m working with the University of Saint Mary at the moment, looking to gain new enrollees for their Online Teaching Degree program. I’d love if you could place a link to their page (http://teaching.stmary.edu/) within one of your blog posts for us. You have a plethora of information about online teaching, and I feel your blog would be a perfect place for us to get a link on! Please let me know if you are interested. Thanks, Lisa.

  • Eek! Everytime I update WordPress, I lose something I forget to replace. Thanks for your comment — I have linked my name to my email. As for the link, I think you just added it. 🙂 I’d love to hear more about the program.

3 comments to The Other Research on Students

  • Lisa,

    I have experienced the same interactions with students that you have. Undergraduate preservice teachers, like most of their counterparts in other disciplines, are great with technology for personal entertainment and some productivity. But when it comes to understanding that these tools can be used in the classroom, they are at a loss.

    Last semester I had my students work on a group activity and upload their information by cell phone to my GabCast site. We watched the website as each group’s recording loaded – no refresh needed. They were absolutely amazed that their cell phones could be used for a sound educational purpose.

    The one advantage that this generation does have over previous generations is their exposure to technology. Even though they might be a little apprehensive at the beginning, most catch on quickly and then take off running. I think less digital immigrants have these types of responses. Many of us are still scared we’ll break something. I think the digital native/net gen lose their fears more quickly.

    Thanks for a good post, Lisa.

  • Hi Lisa,

    I browsed through your blog and couldn’t find your e-mail address or any contact info. I’m working with the University of Saint Mary at the moment, looking to gain new enrollees for their Online Teaching Degree program. I’d love if you could place a link to their page (http://teaching.stmary.edu/) within one of your blog posts for us. You have a plethora of information about online teaching, and I feel your blog would be a perfect place for us to get a link on! Please let me know if you are interested. Thanks, Lisa.

  • Eek! Everytime I update WordPress, I lose something I forget to replace. Thanks for your comment — I have linked my name to my email. As for the link, I think you just added it. 🙂 I’d love to hear more about the program.