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More Net Gen Nonsense

Mark Bullen writes an important blog – netgen nonsense – that I encourage educators to follow. He takes a critical look at evidence (or lack of it) that supports the concept of net generation learners. His blog title is obviously intended to be controversial, but his views are well considered. His main message: evidence to date does not support broad assumptions about different traits/characteristics of learners who have been raised in a technologically rich environment. From a recent post (he is quoting a research report from UK): “The findings show that many young students are far from being the epitomic global, connected, socially-networked technologically-fluent digital native who has little patience for passive and linear forms of learning. Students use a limited range of technologies for formal and informal learning. These are mainly established ICTs – institutional VLE, Google and Wikipedia and mobile phones. Students make limited, recreational use of social technologies such as media sharing tools and social networking.”


  1. Chris Lott wrote:

    The biggest problem with all of this is that you, like Bullen, are engaging with what I see as mostly a strawman– the most radical idea about generational changes in learners, specifically, a sharp age divide between a previous group and a group that is “epitomic global, connected, socially-networked technologically-fluent digital native who has little patience for passive and linear forms of learning”

    How many people make *that* argument other than Prensky? Maybe I don’t put myself in a position to see them, but I don’t see many Prensky-ites. Faculty *I* work with, talk with, and read have a much more nuanced understanding than that.

    What none of these studies address is what I *am* seeing, which is a significant number of learners who have had longer-term and/or nearly immersive experience with three related technologies: personal computers, the web, and social networks that are exhibiting very similar characteristics. To a degree that it is worthwhile to consider them as a group or cluster when trying to educate in an environment that goes beyond the one-on-one.

    I don’t generally disagree with much of what Bullen says– in that context. But I do have a problem with throwing out all the good (and true) because of some radicaly and misrepresentative view of the bad.

    Friday, December 5, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  2. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi Chris – I think we had a similar discussion on your blog earlier this year. The “what I am seeing” argument is important in this as well. Research is only one way of knowing, but it is one that generally has greater respect than “this is what I’m seeing”.

    On a personal level, I see how my children interact with each other through technology. It is a change from what I recall as a kid – not just technology, but process. Ultimately, the question for me is if/how we are to teach people differently today. Many change elements exist that can be a suitable premise for changes to education. Changed learners due to tech use is not the top on my list…yet.

    Friday, December 5, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Permalink