Do ‘digital natives’ need another kind of instructional design than boomers or GenX? Guess what?

First of all, for everybody who thinks that digital natives exist, do read this. But the real question is if different generations need different forms of instructional design. Many people do think this is the case, but what does research says?

Jeroen Janssen (@J3ro3J) tweeted this review by professor Thomas Reeves yesterday and although there are differences, the need for different approaches is not that certain to say the least.

From the conclusion:

“Although there are certainly many doubters, the consensus of scholarship and opinion is that there are generalizable generational differences that are worth taking into consideration in the “knowledge worker” or professional workplace and other contexts such as higher education. For example, there are differences with respect to attitudes, work habits, and motivators that anyone managing cross-generational teams should understand. Managers and workers should also be aware that generational differences in attitudes toward the balance between work and other parts of life such as family may vary to some degree by gender. However, it is definitely not recommended to make assumptions about any one individual, regardless of gender or other factors, based upon his/her membership in a chronological generational cohort.”

“The major question addressed in this review is whether generational difference is a variable important enough to be considered during the design of instruction or the use of different educational technologies. At this time, the weight of the evidence is negative. Generational differences are evident in the workplace, but they are not salient enough to warrant the specification of different instructional designs or the use of different learning technologies.”

Still the authors keep a door open:

“That said, there are some intriguing areas for further research, especially with respect to the design and use of interactive games and simulations.”

6 thoughts on “Do ‘digital natives’ need another kind of instructional design than boomers or GenX? Guess what?

  1. Reblogged this on disrupt learning! and commented:
    Another great post from Pedro today that I wanted to share with all of you. In one fell swoop he uses research to dismantle the idea that there is such a thing as “digital natives” AND the notion that we should use different instructional design methods for different generations. Why write my own post today when this is so fantastic? Enjoy and happy weekend!

  2. Digital natives is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Please, PLEASE spare us. This is the age old excuse: we learned how to use it, we invested the time. It’s a machine, you have to learn how to use it and I do not understand why you buy the machines if you do not intend to use them. My 86 year old Grandfather is coding up a Lion’s Club newsletter and sending an email blast out. How? He read about it, figured it out! He’s just as digital native as anyone else. And what about Generation X? They know how to use a computer much better than most Millennials. They figured it out and have been doing it for years. Work circles around Boomers. Yes, a lot of Millennial are technology enthusiasts. Just as many know how to click through and call their helpdesks for anything outside their normal flow. ‘Digital natives’ is a good name for the dumb & lazy Gen-Ys that. I’ve found myself surrounded by them a few times myself. We’re about pushing thirty and you play Xbox? They released a new Xbox, and you, age 28, spent $400 on one? For years, I was surrounded by smart Millennial. I thought we were all just like that. We are, I just didn’t realize some don’t use it. I haven’t had problems showing them how to do things. I have had trouble getting them to understand that sometimes, I want them to figure it out.

    Different generations do not need different instructional design. Whether or not you buy the ebook or hard-copy-textbook, you either have your nose in it or you could go play a flipping Xbox. You choose to learn or you choose to forgo the opportunity. To them, we were all the Xbox playing myspace people who texted during class. They said none of us would learn, but soon they learned that most of us were poorly advised, poorly financed and ready to learn. Professors didn’t think we were different at all and I am extremely glad we weren’t treated differently. I think it became very clear to them about halfway through our programs that the majority of us were amidst severe financial turmoil. I had a Business Minor on my engineering program, a few of my business professors just knew what was going on. The wave of Millennial that came in were not sent by their parents after all and were putting themselves through school. One of our professors was chatting with us about student loans and asked us how deep we were in. Other people would give some look like you’re crazy. $80,000 hit her ear and she understood the sacrifice we chose. We chose to learn. If you are going to learn, instruction comes at the first day of class in a six-page document of what’s expected of you called a Syllabus. Whether you’re opening it on a tablet or printing it like you’re 50, there’s nothing different. Many times we were obstructed from doing so. Sometimes you just can’t learn when you’re that freaking broke. If you told them you were at home with an anxiety attack and can’t make class, it just means we counted up the debt again. We worked. And most of all: we were probably the first generation to look back on their 20s and say that college was the worst part of our lives. The financial crisis happened when I was a sophomore. It was terrifying. $5 gas. Credit cards all the sudden had balances, you couldn’t work enough ours at your crap job to keep up with it, hungry at times, incapable of wrapping your 20-year old mind around things and beginning to question everything you were taught about your country and over years learning more about it than you could ever imagine and swallowing the harsh realities. Two years later, they’d find you at the bar, dollar drink night, surrounded by the people you refuse to leave to go live with your awful family, that credit card is up to $15k now, throw it down, buy your drinks and celebrate the worst part of your life ending soon. Digital native my rear end, I don’t need the computer to be strategic and I can calculate your derivative in my head. Computer science and rewiring my head for it’s engineer upgrade freed me from needing the computer. I can think on my own, once you master that, you actually are the computer again. It’s a tool. Just a machine. A machine that is supposed to replace records and paper. And I’m surrounded by fools who use it to print all the records out. Careless, wasteful and expensive – you refuse to learn how to use it, you refuse to try, seven reams of paper per week and $12k/toner/year – I will tell you which generation has a learning problem, just as soon as I have the printer removed. This isn’t digital nativity, not understanding that “they didn’t grow up with them.” This is an order from the VP. It may be the printer or her, but she still won’t get it and call screaming tomorrow. I didn’t either, I bought mine when I was a teenager, learned. Even taught you, you didn’t listen. All generations use the computer.

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