New research shows (again) students are no different now

Just another element to debunk the digital native needs different education myth!

From the conclusion:

Some authors (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Prensky, 2009; Ferreiro, 2006) highlight the need of a new educational paradigm to train Net generation students: “they need new learning environments due to their multidirectional communication processes; a reformulation of the curricula is needed, using Web 2.0 tools and collaborative learning as a way to help these new students to build their own knowledge” (Ferreiro, 2006, p. 50). Our findings directly refute these claims; in fact, all of our students (Net Generation or not) are able to develop the same kind of activities in the same learning environment. Neither the survey results nor our teaching experience give us an indication that an age distinction is needed. In our ICT competences’ course, all students learn to work collaboratively using Web 2.0 tools and we have not encountered any age-related differences. We agree that universities have to redesign their learning activities, but not to train students with particularly new characteristics, but to adapt to information and knowledge society needs.

Abstract of the research that can be read for free here:

Some authors have stated that university students born after 1982 have been profoundly influenced by digital technologies, showing different characteristics when compared to previous generations. However, it is worth asking if that is a current observable phenomenon. Are those students born after the 80s really more familiar with ICT tools than those born in previous generations? Do they show different study habits and learning paths? Different research lines (Kennedy, et al., 2010; Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008; Gros, García, & Escofet, 2012) highlight that scientific data is rarely used when discussing this generation’s characteristics; however, none of them have proved in statistical terms that college students do not fit in the Net Generation characteristics and that their habits of ICT use in social and professional activities do not differ from older generations. The international research project, Digital Learners in Higher Education, seeks to develop a sophisticated and evidence-based understanding of university learners in different institutional contexts and the perception of cultures in their use of technology in a social and educational context. Data has been collected from four institutions in Canada and Spain: the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of Regina, the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), and the University Rovira i Virgili. In order to develop this project, we used a multi-case study embedded design (Yin, 2009). The UOC’s case is deeply analysed in this paper to affirm that the Net Generation is more speculative than real and that includes students’ perception about this phenomenon, and guidelines are proposed in an eLearning context

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