New Learning

September 17, 2009

Maybe there is a Net Generation, and they have a tail.

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 11:43 am
Tags: , , ,

Net Generation, Google Generation and Digital Native are all terms which conjure up the image of a tech savvy youth whose integration with digital technology has made them a virtually different species than the older digital immigrant, who can barely read an email without printing it off first.   These terms have become popular and formed the basis for several assumptions about the behavior and attitudes of young learners, however there are also those that reject the idea of a digital native as they can see that these assumptions are misleading.

” I don’t see a Google Generation or Digital Natives in the learners I work with. Some are using Facebook and other tools, many are not. Those that are, not all are using these tools for learning.”  (James Clay)

I have my own understanding on the Net Generation and what this means for education, which is based on Chris Andersons Long Tail theory.  First of all I would like to point out that I am using the term generation quite loosely as I don’t think it refers to age.  I am talking about the latest wave of learners, no matter what their age.  We have all ‘grown up’ with Google, although not necessarily in our childhood.  At what age do you stop ‘growing up’?

Instead of thinking about a generic Net Generation as a generic individual, I see this as a generation of individuals and within this generation there are a wide range of different preferences, interests and characteristics.   What the internet has done, has allowed differences to flourish in other parts of their lives.  So thanks to Amazon, people can chose to read from a wider collection of books, thanks to iTunes and spotify people can choose from a wider collection of music.  This doesn’t necessarily mean the most popular titles will change, it just means a number of smaller niches will flourish.  In these markets people no longer expect the one size fits all approach of making do with what they can buy at their local shops.

Within education there will be an increasing number of niches as individuals find increasingly diverse ways to learn whether its learning teamwork via world of warcraft or Learning to play the guitar with youtube or learning a language via twitter. This does not mean that the most popular way of learning has changed from classroom participation; it just means that other niches are flourishing.

What does this mean for practitioners?
As many people have said before, the one size fits all approach no longer works in education, maybe it never did.  Practitioners could take advantage of this by providing education in a range of formats, but what they can’t do is decide how the learners will learn, as the individuals within this net generation will find their own niches with or without the help of practitioners.

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4 Comments »

  1. […] I have decided to blog about this in my other, more work related blog, so if you are interested, ple… […]

    Pingback by Maybe there is a Net Generation, and they have a tail. « The Masters Ode — September 17, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  2. Hmmm. interesting. I don’t believe in the digital immigrant/digital native thing either. Perhaps this first wave of learners you are describing have some similar characteristics such as being early adopters? Either way, I can only refer to adult education here, but in that case, the one size fits all approach is certainly outdated.

    Comment by mollybob — September 23, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Reply

    • Mollybob,
      Thanks for the comment. Although the examples I mentioned such as Twiiter, youtube and world of warcraft could fit into the category of early adopter, these are the niches at the end of the tail. The wave or generation I am describing also includes learners who are happy to just use email and also learners who resist the use of technology at all costs. The generation includes many individuals with a wide range of skills and expectations.

      Comment by kevhickeyuk — September 26, 2009 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  3. […] What does this mean for practitioners? As many people have said before, the one size fits all approach no longer works in education, maybe it never did.  Practitioners could take advantage of this by providing education in a range of formats, but what they can’t do is decide how the learners will learn, as the individuals within this net generation will find their own niches with or without the help of practitioners. via newlearning.wordpress.com […]

    Pingback by Ffynnonweb » Blog Archive » Maybe there is a Net Generation, and they have a tail. — September 26, 2009 @ 5:53 pm | Reply


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