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Digital Natives Revisited: Developing Digital Wisdom in the Modern University



The seminal work of Prensky on ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital wisdom’ is used to launch a broader discussion on the relations between electronic communication, higher education, and popular and elite culture. Prensky’s critics commonly contrast his polarisations and generational divisions with a more complex picture of types of engagement with electronic communication. However, their own approaches can also be seen as simplifying a number of less obvious but still important issues about education and culture. Having restored complexity to those areas too, the discussion ends with a consideration of practices in university teaching which attempt to manage complexity for educational purposes and develop the more positive sides of electronic technology
E–Learning and Digital Media
Volume 9 Number 2 2012
Digital Natives Revisited: developing 1
digital wisdom in the modern university 2
Faculty of Sport, Media and Creative Arts, 4
University College Plymouth, United Kingdom 5
ABSTRACT The seminal work of Prensky on ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital wisdom’ is used to launch a 6
broader discussion on the relations between electronic communication, higher education, and popular 7
and elite culture. Prensky’s critics commonly contrast his polarisations and generational divisions with 8
a more complex picture of types of engagement with electronic communication. However, their own 9
approaches can also be seen as implying a number of less obvious but still important issues about 10
education and culture. Having restored complexity to those areas too, the discussion ends with a 11
consideration of practices in university teaching which attempt to manage complexity for educational 12
purposes, and develop the more positive sides of electronic technology 13
Introduction: Prensky and ‘digital natives’ 14
Prensky was responsible for introducing the term ‘digital natives’ in two articles written in 2001 15
(Prensky, 2001a, b). The articles and the ensuing terms have become much discussed and cited 16
since. The first article announced that the explanation for students’ alienation from education lay in 17
their distinct stance towards digital technology. Having grown up with the technology, 18
encountered mostly through leisure uses of the Internet and World Wide Web, but especially in 19
electronic games, the ‘digital natives’ learned and interacted differently from the older generations 20
of traditional teachers and learners. 21
Digital natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and 22
multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer 23
random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant 24
gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to ‘serious’ work. (Prensky, 2001a, p. 2) 25
The painful attempts of the non-digital generation to come to terms with the new culture made 26
them look clumsy and limited, even laughable, as ‘digital immigrants’. Yet they have no choice but 27
to deal with the digital natives on their own terms, since the digital revolution is here to stay, and 28
‘their brains [those of the digital natives] may already be different’ (Prensky, 2001a, p. 3). New 29
teaching methods are needed to match the learning preferences described above, and the content 30
of learning must change too. ‘Legacy content’ – reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking, 31
understanding the writings and ideas of the past, etc. – all of our ‘traditional’ curriculum’ – must be 32
abandoned in favour of ‘future content’ such as ‘software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, 33
genomics, etc. ... [and] the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other things that go with them34
(Prensky, 2001a, p. 4; original emphasis). Fortunately, ‘adapting materials to the language of digital 35
natives has already been done successfully’ by educational games designers, including Prensky 36
himself (Prensky, 2001a, p. 4). Several actual examples of successful educational gaming are then 37
offered, together with additional possibilities to illustrate the potential. For example, ‘in geography 38
there is no reason that a generation that can memorise over 100 Pokémon characters with all their 39
David Harris
characteristics, history and evolution can’t learn the names, populations, capitals and relationships
of all the 101 nations in the world’ (Prensky, 2001a, p. 5). And much more is possible: ‘Classical 41
philosophy? Create a game in which the philosophers debate and the learners have to pick out what 42
each would say’ (Prensky, 2001a, p. 6; original emphasis). 43
The second article discussed the evidence for these claims. Some studies reporting the success 44
of educational games were cited. Other arguments supported the points made about different types 45
of learning and how these can be influenced by experiences. Some neuroscientific work was 46
reported, often involving studies of the brains of laboratory animals. General authorities were cited 47
in support (in this case Greenfield): 48
thinking skills enhanced by repeated exposure to computer games and other digital media 49
include reading visual images as representations of three-dimensional space (representational 50
competence), multidimensional visual-spatial skills, mental maps, ‘mental paper folding’ (i.e. 51
picturing the results of various origami-like folds in your mind without actually doing them), 52
‘inductive discovery’ (i.e. making observations, formulating hypotheses and figuring out the 53
rules governing the behavior of a dynamic representation), ‘attentional deployment’ (such as 54
monitoring multiple locations simultaneously), and responding faster to expected and 55
unexpected stimuli. (Prensky, 2001b, p. 4) 56
The only problem is the possible threat to the important process of reflection in the ‘the twitch-57
speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff 58
world of ... video games, MTV, and Internet’ (Prensky, 2001b, p. 5). We can only be urged to 59
consider ‘ways to include reflection and critical thinking in the learning (either built into the 60
instruction or through a process of instructor-led debriefing) but still do it in the Digital Native 61
language’ (Prensky, 2001b, p. 5; original emphasis). 62
The third article (Prensky, 2005) rehearsed and repeated many of the themes of the first two, 63
although possibly with more stress on the role of digital technology to engage and motivate 64
students rather than as FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY? affecting 65
their brains. Bringing about change in education systems is also SEEN AS? more complex in this 66
later piece, especially as Prensky advocates something like the policies of the ‘de-schoolers’ of the 67
1970s, with networks (electronic this time) of experts and self-chosen friends organising learning on 68
an entirely voluntary basis. There is a stronger emphasis on the need to change the curriculum to 69
embrace more future-oriented subjects and topics. There is the same exaggerated emphasis on the 70
enthusiasm and skill of young people using digital technology, demonstrated in the claim that ‘All 71
C21st kids are programmers to some degree’ (Prensky, 2005, p. 12), which is surely an optimistic 72
elision of the ability to operate a program with the ability to write it in the first place. There is still 73
little support for schools as educational organisations, although their child-minding and credential-74
awarding roles are acknowledged, even if disparagingly. 75
Prensky’s last paper (2009) represents more of a departure, shown in the decision to depict the 76
distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants as ‘less relevant’ (no page numbers in this 77
electronic document) compared to the new focus on ‘digital wisdom’. There is a remnant of the 78
claim that digital technology leads to detectable changes in the functioning of the brain, but more 79
emphasis instead on arguments that cognitive capacities are increased by digital technology. 80
However, digital enhancements of cognitive ability are now described in terms that are more 81
familiar and less spectacular – devices like electronic databases and data sets enable the efficient 82
gathering of far more information, and expert programs (including expert statistical programs) 83
enable new qualitatively different judgements to be made by processing these now enormous 84
amounts of data. Human wisdom and judgement might one day be replaced altogether, but at the 85
moment it is crucial to maintain human control of this new kind of data – simulation games can 86
help here, Prensky argues. There is still some prophetic writing based on some dubious or dramatic 87
claims – that problems of translation between human languages are all but solved, that new data 88
sets could finally stabilise the global economy, or that lie-detection software can solve problems of 89
judging the sincerity of others and that this could eventually lead to some kind of direct 90
communication between human brains. However, the tone and the conclusions are generally more 91
modest: human wisdom is still needed, and, specifically, students need to be guided in their use of 92
the new technology, since ‘just knowing how to use a particular technology makes one no wiser 93
than just knowing how to read words does’. 94
Digital Natives Revisited
Some Critical Issues
Most of Prensky’s critics have objected to the apparently simple assertions about the spread and 96
development of digital literacy, and the attempt to tie these to a generational politics. They want to 97
assert instead a more complex picture both about digital competence and about social factors 98
beyond generational differences, which affect uptake. 99
Prensky’s Research Base 100
Bennett et al (2008) and Bennett and Maton (2010) challenge the large generalisations which are 101
central to the articles. There is much research to suggest instead that university students actually 102
relate to electronic machines and forms of communication in rather diverse ways, and that they are 103
not all fully fluent with, or immersed in, digital culture. We could add that student populations 104
more generally are also likely to exhibit a ‘digital divide’ in terms of access, at least in the United 105
Kingdom: ‘In the highest income decile group, 98% of households owned a home computer and 106
97% had an Internet connection in 2009. This compares with 38% of households who owned a 107
home computer and 30% who had an internet Internet? connection in the lowest income decile 108
group’ (Office for National Statistics, 2010). Family and school provision become important 109
variables affecting access. Other variables may also be significant, including gender, subject 110
specialism and type of university, rurality and cultural background (Kennedy et al, 2010). 111
For Kennedy et al (2010, p. 333), ‘much of the quantitative research has indicated that the 112
average student is not a sophisticated user of technology’ (original emphasis). Their own substantial 113
survey of 2588 students in Australia found four distinct groups of users, ranging from heavy users 114
to ‘basic users’. Only 14% of the sample clustered in the first group, with 45% in the least frequent 115
user group. Further, ‘experience with one technology cannot be reliably used to predict experience 116
with another’, and ‘there are a number of demographic variables other than age that may predict a 117
student’s technology experience’ (Kennedy et al, 2010 PAGE NUMBERS FOR THE QUOTES?). 118
Li and Ranieri (2010) come to similar conclusions for Chinese students, and see the need for 119
continued educational initiatives to encourage the use of digital technology among students. 120
Helsper and Eynon (2010, p. 504) concluded that ‘breadth of use, experience, self-efficacy and 121
education are just as, if not more, important than age’ in predicting actual usage. It follows that 122
even members of the older generation display differences in their awareness of technology and its 123
uses, and ‘if tech savvy is determined by exposure and experience, then collaboration and learning 124
is possible in environments where younger and older generations interact’ (Helsper & Eynon, 2010, 125
p. 505). Indeed, ‘older generations have accommodated ICTs [information and communications 126
technologies] to a great extent and in quite a few instances to the same level as younger people’ 127
(Helsper & Eynon, 2010, p. 516). One implication is that this provides a basis for some useful home-128
based informal learning using ICT. Another is that it would be harmful in some cases for 129
professional pedagogues to assume that all younger people were fully at home in the digital 130
environment (and that their older colleagues were not). 131
Prensky’s View of Higher Education 132
The second series of problems concern the supposed implications for higher education (HE) 133
specifically (although Prensky also talks about school-based education). Bennett and Maton (2010) 134
suggest that educational knowledge is not easily translated into popular knowledge. They refer to 135
Bernstein (1999) to provide an account based on the different structures of the two kinds of 136
knowledge. Briefly, popular knowledge features a horizontal structure, where additions to 137
knowledge are simply accumulated, while educational knowledge is much more vertical or 138
hierarchical, and the hierarchy depends on some logical or cognitive progression. Bennett and 139
Maton strongly imply that this vertical structure is worthwhile and valuable, and not to be replaced 140
with an endlessly horizontal form of accumulation. Of course, this model might be under threat 141
from modern forms of organisation in universities such as modular schemes and vocational or 142
other ‘applied’ forms of courses, but the notion might still serve as an ideal. 143
David Harris
Current discussions about rival pedagogies in HE indicate support for two kinds of
knowledge, both valuable, but not easily reconciled. A well-known discussion on work-based 145
learning identifies two distinct modes, for example: 146
Mode one knowledge is defined as being ‘set within a disciplinary framework’ and 147
‘institutionalized primarily within university structures’, whereas mode two knowledge is 148
characterized as operating ‘within a context of application’ – it is ‘transdisciplinary’ and ‘carried 149
out in nonhierarchical, heterogeneously organized forms which are essentially transient’. 150
(Gustavs & Clegg, 2005, p. 10, citing Gibbons et al, 1994) 151
Hammersley (2005) suggests that, while experiential learning offers a chance to develop tacit 152
knowledge in ‘communities of practice’, it tends not to encourage ‘those forms of reflection which 153
seek to represent the practice, or aspects of it, in terms of propositional accounts’ (Hammersley, 154
2005, p. 14). There are, of course, other kinds of reflection available, as Boud has argued. According 155
to Murphy (2008, p. 14) NOT IN REFS – PLEASE SUPPLY they turn on being ‘“flexible, work-156
focused, problem-solving”, “dependent upon distributed and flexible competence” and based on 157
tackling a “fluid series of continuously reviewed and renegotiated assignments”’. 158
There is an immediate practical problem in devising an adequate assessment system 159
reconciling both types of knowledge. Prensky recognises the credentialising role of the modern 160
university, although he tries to be dismissive and simply urges reform of assessment practices. In 161
practice, the award of credentials is a crucial activity if we are to understand modern universities 162
and their social role, and it cannot be ignored or reformed that easily. Integrating different forms of 163
knowledge becomes a difficulty for students in generating assessable knowledge. Gustavs and 164
Clegg (2005) report how a number of uneasy negotiations with tutors have to be pursued if non-165
propositional knowledge is to be assessable. Knight (2002, p. 284) points to technical difficulties 166
which will increase when pursuing any kind of ‘authentic’ assessment based on experience: 167
the belief that higher education institutions should promote complex achievements – skills, self-168
theories and metacognitive acuity – ... [is] ... especially hard to reconcile with a wish to secure 169
cheap and reliable judgements, because these achievements tend to be indeterminate and 170
ambiguous. 171
At the least, it might be important to preserve both kinds of knowledge in a multicultural system, 172
and not let one type of culture simply overwhelm and replace the other. Here, Prensky’s metaphor 173
is surely back to front. In terms of academic traditions, it is the digital generation who are the 174
immigrants and, while they should be allowed to celebrate their own culture, they should not be 175
permitted to colonise and replace the host culture altogether. 176
There is also a tradition of university education that involves systematic critique. Again, this 177
practice is being threatened by new developments in universities and has most appeal, perhaps, as 178
an ideal. Writers such as Adorno have argued that thought itself must be critical, and must set itself 179
apart from ordinary kinds of knowledge and practices in order to avoid ‘identity thinking’, a 180
process whereby existing social forms are uncritically seen as representing philosophical concepts – 181
‘existential freedom’ or ‘transcendental reason’ are identified with current policies to restore 182
market forces, for example. Although Adorno himself argued for developing ‘negative dialectics’ 183
(Adorno, 1973), the same theme can be found in a number of major philosophical works, of course. 184
Critical thought of this kind is the very opposite of knowledge and social practices celebrated in 185
popular culture. Those characteristics are better described as the products of a culture industry, in a 186
famous analysis (Adorno & Horkheimer, 1976). In a follow-up piece TO HIS 1973 WORK?, 187
Adorno (1975) argues that the very individualisation and immersion of the kind that Prensky 188
admires is best understood as an effect of the skilled work of the producers of popular culture who 189
can individualise their product to fit several market niches. The aim is an anti-educational one, to 190
‘duplicate, reinforce and strengthen [the customers’] mentality, which it presumes is given and 191
unchangeable’ (Adorno, 1975, p. 12). Digital natives look like educational naifs, from this 192
perspective, selling their intellectual heritage for a handful of beads and the fun of playing with 193
them. 194
If Adorno’s view is seen as unduly ‘pessimistic’, the more populist views summarised below 195
can clearly be accused of the opposite fault. Both views seem to rely on excessive generalisation 196
and to ignore what actually might be taking place. Of course, it is extremely difficult, perhaps 197
Digital Natives Revisited
impossible, to research the actual interactions between individuals and cultural materials. Much of
the material reviewed here relies on questionnaires and large surveys, which clearly often result in 199
large generalisations. There is some more qualitative material, for example that of Palfrey and 200
Gasser (2008), where evidence consists of personal reactions, but this has equally clear limitations, 201
running the risk of assuming that such persons are typical. In the more general cultural 202
commentaries, the phenomenon of the ‘slippery pronoun’ haunts much of the discussion: the term 203
‘we’, as in ‘what we make of popular culture’, slips between referring to what academic critics 204
might think to what ‘we ordinary people’ might think, and critics’ views come to stand in for views 205
of the general public. 206
In general Prensky is uninformed about modern university teaching, where didacticism is 207
only one option. Prensky’s case here has been made for him by earlier generations of pedagogues 208
suggesting that teaching should build far more on the strengths already demonstrated in popular 209
culture, but without complete immersion. Prensky mentions Sesame Street, one of the most famous 210
examples of using television to develop educational goals. There have been many examples since. 211
At secondary school level, there is currently a wealth of educational broadcasting in the United 212
Kingdom which borrows popular formats, such as detective stories, science fiction programmes, 213
panel and quiz shows, and even electronic game formats, to teach children some of the basic 214
principles of school subjects. 215
However, there are difficulties, which emerge if we take one of Prensky’s (2001a) suggestions, 216
that philosophy be turned into a playful debate among philosophers. A UK Open University 217
broadcast once used a format like this, using students to play the role of philosophers in a televised 218
debate. The limits of the exercise also emerged quite rapidly, since students soon ran out of things 219
to say. It would clearly take an extensive knowledge of the different philosophers involved to 220
sustain the debate very far, especially as the issues involved were themselves quite complicated, 221
covering such matters as what Comte might make of current policies. The personalities of the 222
players became the focus instead. As with most games, people are engaged if we can keep it light 223
and playful, but transforming a game into more academic work involves far more commitment. 224
Prensky seems too optimistic in suggesting that this transformation can be managed just by the 225
good design of games. 226
Defending Prensky: criticising conventional higher education 227
Prensky’s work does have some critical implications that are worth considering. He is right to insist 228
that academic knowledge does express certain cultural and social values; that it is not just 229
universally valid and worthwhile. Defenders of hierarchical knowledge like Bennett and Maton 230
(2010) have not considered this critique. It is not difficult to detect a deeper anxiety in their work 231
based on the challenges to orthodox tastes represented by popular forms, described particularly 232
well in Bourdieu (1986): high culture sets itself deliberately against the values of popular culture by 233
stressing emotional detachment instead of involvement, form instead of content, and the 234
accumulation of intellectual and educational capital instead of immediate participation. 235
Bourdieu and Passeron (1990) argue that conventional university knowledge is a ‘cultural 236
arbitrary’, representing the values and assumptions of the dominant group, who have been 237
extremely successful in imposing this arbitrary and getting it accepted as the only legitimate form 238
of knowledge. This happens partly because those values involved are held unconsciously, in a 239
shared habitus. The effects of the values, however, are clear, both in pedagogical and, crucially, in 240
assessment practices. We might well take Prensky’s arguments in spirit if not in the actual letter, 241
and ask why that particular kind of knowledge should persist, and whose interests it represents. 242
Bourdieu’s answer would not involve generational politics, nor some attempt to resist 243
technology, however. Instead, it is the reproduction of the structure of dominance that is involved. 244
In exchange for support and an element of autonomy, French universities were to provide the 245
dominant classes with a rationalisation for their privilege. They did this by turning cultural and 246
social capital into merit, to paraphrase Bourdieu and Passeron (1979), constructing a series of 247
academic hurdles in the form of public examinations, entrance requirements, and internal forms of 248
assessment that led to the award of degrees that would privilege and favour those that were already 249
familiar with the cultural assumptions of universities and their implicit requirements. At its most 250
David Harris
specific, this critique suggests that the structure of academic discourse is permeated with a number
of implicit references to elite culture, very often in the form of allusions or ellipses, and that these 252
are misrecognised or misunderstood by those who do not share that culture. In assessment terms, 253
requirements are also often diffuse and unspecified, but not random or innocent. Requirements, 254
especially those turning on style, represent the unconscious but accurate recognition of those with 255
the correct cultural attributes. 256
Defending Prensky: revaluing popular culture 257
Prensky is also right in demanding that popular culture to be recognised as involving the potential 258
for skilled performance and worthwhile values, rather than just offering a form of degraded 259
entertainment. This is perhaps more important for building bridges between the generations than 260
demanding a technical recognition of the cognitive skills involved. In the tradition represented by 261
the British variant of Cultural Studies, a number of writers have argued that apparently worthless 262
forms such as soap operas or popular melodrama can be read ‘redemptively’, as genuine drama 263
(Gledhill, 1987), that rock videos can be seen as statements of identity (Fiske, 1989), that even gay 264
porn movies can claim to have cinematic merit (Dyer, 2002). American work, like that of Giroux, 265
Simon and contributors (1989), has also examined ways in which popular culture, including 266
commercial film, can be used in educational contexts, to raise issues which can then be debated in 267
productive ‘border crossings’ between popular culture and formal education. These issues include 268
matters like social stratification, social class, ethnic identity and gender. 269
A more recent example is provided by Goldenberg et al (2010), who have listed useful movies 270
for teaching purposes, and report their findings that ‘popular culture artefacts, including movies, 271
may be one of the most commanding teaching aids at educators’ disposal’ (Goldenberg et al, 2010, 272
p. 6). They stress the connections between engagement, emotional identification and long-term 273
memory. In the hands of skilled teachers, movies also generated a number of framing and reflective 274
activities (Goldenberg et al, 2010, p. 10). The authors also note that popular cultural tastes can still 275
be a source of social division and distinction, and showing a movie can produce strong aversion and 276
disengagement in some segments of the audience. 277
Work by Haraway (2003) suggests that online worlds in particular permit a much more 278
playful exploration of the boundaries between male and female identities, and even between 279
human and non-human bodies. The opportunities to reflect on conventional identities in this 280
virtual way are especially valuable for women, Haraway thinks, and, indeed, it would be almost 281
impossible to experiment as much or as easily in reality. 282
It is fair to say that it is easier to see the relevance of movies and games to discussion of social 283
roles, identities, conflicts or stereotypes, and thus to link THEM? to social science disciplines. 284
However, the very forms of popular culture might be helpful as well as their content, which is 285
close to Prensky’s views. Commercial video games have a defender in the work of Fiske (1989), for 286
example, who argues that the capacity that they possess to permit skilled players to ‘play with the 287
signifiers’ is the equivalent of what a skilled novelist does in manipulating the cultural signs and 288
conventions of their day. 289
The entire debate reveals a number of options for popular cultural material, in other words, 290
and it is possible to rebuke excessive optimists and excessive pessimists alike. With Bennett and 291
Maton (2010), it is necessary to insist on the complexity of both the production and consumption of 292
materials, in popular culture as well as in education. It is impossible to generalise across a range of 293
products that vary from televised ‘people shows’ to educational documentary, and web-browsing 294
behaviour that varies from downloading pornography to searching for material on Japanese 295
ceramics. It would be a mistake to treat all popular cultural activities with complete disdain and 296
rejection, since they can offer genuine intellectual pleasures as well as mundane commercial ones. 297
Clearly, they can be connected to educational purposes, but only in some contexts and with some 298
work involved to prepare and develop engagement. 299
Knowledge of and enjoyment of popular culture is also no longer simply a generational issue. 300
A recent study by Bennett et al (2009) on the cultural tastes of people in Britain concluded that 301
cultural preferences were no longer tightly tied to social divisions, and that there were growing 302
Digital Natives Revisited
numbers of ‘cultural omnivores’, people who could value and enjoy both popular and elite culture.
Such omnivores were mostly those who had grown up with elite culture first, however. 304
Discussion: managing complexity 305
Theoretical commentary and empirical research like the material summarised here point to a 306
considerable complexity in uptake of electronic technology, patterns of use including obstacles to 307
use, and various value positions ranging from complete condemnation of popular culture to an 308
uncritical celebration of it. If these complexities make generalisation difficult at the theoretical 309
level, it might be fruitful to consider the implications for practice and policy. For many 310
practitioners, the point is to encourage electronic communication for educational purposes, but 311
discourage it for anti-educational projects, and to preserve the reflective and critical insights of 312
traditional education, but not its elite values. There seems to be no particular practical reason to 313
focus on electronic games, since many aspects of popular culture might well be explored in order 314
to engage students and ground academic work, as the examples above indicate. However, 315
electronic media will offer a useful case study. 316
Perry (2010) argues, for example, that a major issue concerning practitioners is the way the 317
use of the Internet and the Web encourages plagiarism, This may be an exaggerated fear but it is 318
not insignificant, Perry (2010, p. 97) thinks, given the increase in access to sophistication of 319
suitable material SENSE? ‘fuelled by online enterprises that now sell “pass” papers and customised 320
research’. This deviant use of the huge volume of online data that Prensky admires is barely 321
discussed by any of the commentators summarised here. One of the metaphors in a classic study 322
offers an intriguing speculative connection with popular culture, though: Becker et al (1995) NOT 323
IN REFS – PLEASE SUPPLY refer to students seeing assessment as a ‘game’ to be played, an 324
orientation that partly overcomes their own anxieties. Perhaps the strategic orientation of the 325
electronic games player is being transferred in some way to educational tasks? 326
Perry’s own results suggest the existence of sub-types among the student population again, 327
with admissions of Internet use for the purposes of plagiarism made by only 14% of the sample. 328
Perry says this might be an under-representation of the problem resulting from using 329
questionnaires to gain the data. Other types of academic misconduct are more common, including 330
‘unintentional plagiarism’ and ‘collusion’. Collusion in assessment can arise as a classic unintended 331
consequence, familiar to all pedagogues, since it might be encouraged by working on tasks in teams 332
for legitimate pedagogical purposes. Policy and practical implications for Perry include trying to 333
police deliberate plagiarism by using detection software (there might even be a place for Prensky’s 334
advocacy of lie-detection software?), but, less spectacularly, a general policy of constant 335
information and clarity, targeting the different categories of student malpractice, trying to design 336
‘plagiarism-proof’ assignments, and rewarding good practice. 337
Much the same picture of careful and patient intervention emerges in the discussions on 338
student use of electronic databases. Personal use confirms Prensky’s view that increasing the 339
quantity of data easily available can lead to qualitative changes. While using full-text electronic 340
databases to research material for a book on ‘key concepts’ in Leisure Studies an unexpected 341
number of articles in quite different fields were discovered. One result was to gain awareness of 342
broader discussions of leisure, and then to reconsider the implications for the boundaries of Leisure 343
Studies itself (Harris, 2004) NOT IN REFS – PLEASE SUPPLY. 344
Students might be in a different position, though. An extremely thorough study based on 345
observation and interviews examined the ways in which students actually operated when searching 346
for information electronically (Hargittai et al, 2010). Skills varied (while remaining at a fairly low 347
level overall), and other factors affected the search strategy. Generally, however, in the process of 348
‘credibility assessment’ of the source, Hargittai et al (2010) found students relying on brand-name 349
search engines, and attributing credibility to actual documents based on their position in the 350
hierarchy provided by those search engines. Examples of adverse consequences can be supplied 351
from personal experience, and include a student who searched for material on the ‘Third Way’ 352
policy adopted by the British Labour Party in the 1990s but found an evidently Christian magazine 353
with the same title, which they attempted to incorporate into their assignment. Another student 354
searched for material on ‘authenticity’ in an assignment on ‘authentic tourism’, and, to their 355
David Harris
dismay, encountered a commentary on Adorno’s scathing critique of German existentialism (The
Jargon of Authenticity). Students looking for material on ‘women and football’ did not think to 357
search under terms like ‘gender’, ‘sport’, ‘equal participation’, ‘sexual identity’. As usual, it is not 358
just the skill of typing words into boxes that is involved, but a considerable amount of background 359
knowledge of the topic is also required. So is adequate spelling. Generally inadequate assessments 360
of credibility need to be countered by a targeted policy of information and demonstration, 361
Hargittai et al (2010) think. 362
When it comes to devising teaching strategies involving electronic communication, there is 363
often a marked reluctance on the part of staff to use the facilities that are provided. Scheckenberg 364
(2009) has found a wide range of organisational and cultural factors involved in European 365
universities, which include traditional patterns of rewarding research rather than innovative 366
teaching, and needing to maintain loyalty to subject communities. Anxieties associated with the 367
recent structural changes in the sector away from state finance towards more financial autonomy 368
seem to have increased conservatism and defensiveness. 369
Even for the less defensive, initial use is not immediately obvious and can limit itself to 370
merely storing electronically materials designed for face-to-face teaching, such as presentations or 371
student handouts. Electronic teaching can do far more, of course, and eventually one realises that it 372
is relatively easy to produce multimedia texts and hyperlinked texts. Much conventional advice 373
suggests that images and video needs to be ‘educational’, but it is also possible to incorporate 374
material from popular culture more to entertain or motivate students, and get them engaged. A 375
personal example uses published video clips and popular music to accompany advice about revising 376
for examinations (Harris, n.d.). Electronic search activities can be incorporated into teaching – 377
asking students themselves to undertake some comparative work, for example (in one actual case 378
to compare British academic work on youth culture with e-fanzines and participants’ websites, 379
including some in other countries). Students can also be encouraged to store their notes and 380
additional materials in ways which permit them to be hyperlinked, as with the Windows software 381
OneNote. 382
More radically, the size and scope of the teaching materials can be reconsidered. Instead of 383
the classic lecture with its ‘academic realist’ narrative organising perspectives, smaller units of 384
material can be offered and students encouraged to impose their own narratives. These smaller 385
units are usually designed as reusable learning objects (RLOs). Some personal experimentation has 386
produced a series of more extended learning objects (ELOs) using Xerte software (University of 387
Nottingham, n.d.) covering larger series of pages of material and offering a choice of paths through 388
the material (Harris, 2011). 389
Although these newer forms are possible and increasingly easy to construct, many academic 390
staff are reluctant to use them, even in ‘blended learning’ systems. This might be because of 391
cultural and social disdain of the kind discussed above, but there are also real material interests 392
involved. Academic staff can fear the consequences for their continued employment, for example, 393
and using electronic material requires a change in management practices too, such as the ways in 394
which workloads are calculated: electronic materials are demanding in terms of resources at the 395
design stage, and less demanding during routine use. Certainly, a more considered strategy is 396
required to diffuse the innovation than just making resources available. 397
Conclusion 398
Prensky is right to raise some important issues about the relations between the popular cultural 399
activities of modern students, and the informational format they are likely to encounter at 400
university. His critics are also right in insisting that the picture is far more complex than just a 401
simple generational clash (which later work by Prensky admits). It is certainly no longer possible to 402
pretend that electronic forms of communication do not exist and play a major part, and academic 403
staff need to seriously reconsider their pedagogic strategies. At the same time, Prensky’s view is far 404
too simple – there is much more complexity in terms of what both young people and older 405
academics know and value about electronic forms. Both students and staff need to be willing to 406
become intercultural operators, operating in the way early explorers did on first contact. The 407
problems of communication involve hard work to understand social and cultural beliefs and 408
Digital Natives Revisited
political processes and interests, which cannot be solved by hiring a consultant to devise interesting
educational games. 410
At the same time, there is no need to wait for the older generations to die off and the ‘digital 411
natives’ to inherit the earth. There is enough common ground, based on skills, knowledge and 412
values, for effective communication between the generations, and that common ground might be 413
growing. There are no easy solutions here though, and the only way forward seems to be a gradual 414
process of cultural assimilation, working both ways, based on the standard pedagogic values of 415
mutual respect and tolerance. Instead of general policies, there seems to be a need to diffuse 416
examples of good practice, as in Kerriemuir (2003). This is not as exciting or dramatic as Prensky’s 417
work, but it is the only realistic option for the foreseeable future. 418
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David Harris
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DAVID HARRIS is Professor in Leisure and Education at University College Plymouth Marjon, 493
United Kingdom. His professorial title indicates an interest in finding creative parallels between 494
work in popular culture and educational practices. His publications include books, chapters and 495
articles on distance education and electronic teaching, and he has produced electronic teaching 496
materials for UK national open repositories as well as for local use. Other publications focus on 497
social theory and its applications to work on leisure and popular culture. Further details of these 498
and other works are available on his personal website: Correspondence: 499 500
... It is important to note however, that critics to Prenksy's hypothesis argue that this divide in technological uptake in actuality cannot be generalized to simply a generational gap in exposure, but instead is complex and inclusive of many other social and environmental factors such as an individual's socioeconomic predicament, gender, rurality, cultural heritage, and patterns and/or obstacles of use (67,68). Additionally, the technology or platform under analysis may also change the rates of technological uptake. ...
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Objective: Where traditional approaches fall short, widely accessible and accepted, yet under leveraged, digital technologies such as text messaging present novel opportunities to solve a range of health care solutions. The following provides a preliminary analysis of the Text4Support program, a text-messaging intervention using the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, which seeks to support the health and well-being of individuals seeking support for addiction or mental health concerns. The goal of this study was to assess whether the Text4Support program improved the perceived overall mental well-being of participants. Methods: The evaluation analyzes survey responses of individuals who were enrolled in the Text4Support program beginning in July 2019, who had completed the 6-months program by May 2020. Participants were asked to provide responses to three surveys during their time in the program—at baseline, 12-weeks and 6-months, which included questions documenting demographic information, general satisfaction with the program, and a participants' level of “global distress” through use of the Clinical Outcomes Routine Evaluation System (CORE-10)—a validated brief 10-item assessment and outcome measurement tool used to assess conditions including anxiety, depression, physical problems, and risk to self. Results and Conclusions: This data set did not include a large enough sample of participants to reach statistical significance. Nevertheless, the study provides some preliminary analysis, and identifies opportunities for the future analysis and research.
... Failure to consider technology in the curriculum may decrease the engagement and relevant lessons may have for digital native students. If these digital natives fail, there is considered to be also a 'digital wisdom' which could be used for relations on electronic communication, higher education and elite culture [7]. Collaboration is also essential as with the teachers and the students in terms of technology. ...
... Cell-phone and Facebook based learning has advanced rapidly and is becoming an integral part of the learning process in many universities throughout the world. Some research studies have indicated that the use of cell-phones as a delivery platforms for university learning is suitable for both cognitive and affective aims (Garner et al., 2002; Prensky, 2005) and other research studies have emphasized the suitability of Facebook for delivery of learning at the university level (Robbins-Bell, 2008; Isacsson & Gretzel, 2011; Harris, 2012). ...
Conference Paper
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Every human being has an individual demand for specific (further) development of competence, depending on his or her personal life phase. On the grounds of its history, development, experiences, and the structure of its modularized study programmes, the FernUniversität in Hagen as a lifelong learning university in the German-speaking world helps to satisfy this demand (Vogt, 2012). The seamless learning approach supports flexibility of “distance” studies in terms of place, time and content (see for example Krey et al., 2014), which attracts above all non-traditional students (Alheit et al., 2008) who have completed a first degree and are now working, in the age group 25 to 38 (59%) and 39 to over 60 (FernUniversität in Hagen, 2014). Analyses of the studies or learning achievements of distance education students take into account in particular the motivation for studying (Kaiser, 1997; Baacke, 1978), the particular socio-economic situation of female distance education students (Prümmer, 1997), or study materials (Richardson et al., 1999). This paper focuses on the influence of life-world factors on the learning achievement of students, looking at the example of the Bachelor degree course in Education Science at FernUniversität in Hagen (life-world study). The paper starts by considering avenues of access to the term life-world based on theory (2) and describes the status of research (3). It then describes the methodology of the life-world study (4). The life-worlds of the students and the concept of learning achievement are then presented in summary form with initial, preliminary results (5).The paper ends with a summarising conclusion (6).
Sanayi devriminden günümüze dijitalleşme, değişen sanal bir teknolojik iklim mekanı olarak, yaşamın birçok alanına etki etmektedir. Erişimi kolay ve etkileşimi serbest olan dijital ortamlar, bireysel düzeyde başlayan, toplumsal düzeye yayılan etkileriyle, kısa sürede uzun vadeli olarak teknolojiyi kabul edilebilir hale getirmektedir. Gündelik hayata etki eden boyutuyla teknoloji yaşamımıza da birçok yeni kavramı eklemektedir. Dijital uzantılar ile yorumlanan yeni teknolojik düzende, toplumsal ve kitlesel dönüşümler yeni dijital kavramlar aracılığıyla gerçekleşmektedir. Bu kavramlar salt tanımsal boyutuyla değil, dijital teknoloji boyutuyla da teknolojik birer aracı olarak “teknoyorum”lara rehberlik etmekte, teknoloji, uygulama ve kullanım alanlarını tanımlayan kavramların yanı sıra literatüre kullanıcıları için de yeni kavramların eklenmesine yol açmaktadır. Bu kavramlar aracılığıyla teknolojinin toplumsal ve kültürel etkileri ölçülüp, değerlendirilmekte, teknoloji böylece etkisel boyutunda kullanıcılar için birçok yeni pencere açmakta, aynı zamanda dijital dünyaya uyum sağlayan yeni dijitalde bireyleri de güncellenen tanımlarla değerlendirmektedir. Teknoloji kullanımına hakim olanlar dijital yerliler, teknolojiyle daha geç tanışanlar dijital göçmenler, teknolojiyi ihtiyatlı kullananlar ise dijital bilgeler olarak tanımlanacaklardır. Anahtar Kelime: Dijitalleşme, Dijitalleşmenin Etkileri, Dijital Bilgelik, Dijital Yerliler, Dijital Göçmenler
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Educating students to think critically and impartially is a major objective of all educational institutions. to effectively teach critical thinking, it must be integrated into the content, structure, and sequence of the curriculum at all grade levels. Education modifies and reconstructs the students' psyche, allowing them to engage with and cognitively emphasize with alternative viewpoint, assimilate crucial ideas from a discipline, and solve challenging issues on their own.
This chapter offers a proposal of how a multimodal social semiotic approach based on a multiliteracies paradigm can possibly be used in the Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education (ICLHE) classroom. The multiliteracies paradigm has been shown to be effective at engaging students with its utilization of varied modalities that cater to different learner needs and interests. Using the popular science fiction television anthology series Black Mirror as a trigger for deep student engagement, we describe a hypothetical approach for how first-year university undergraduates can be introduced to threshold concepts like neoliberal governmentality and marketization that have typically been associated with neoliberalism. Such threshold concepts may be difficult to comprehend in the typically monomodal form that is characteristic of most conventional academic literature. Taking into account this challenge, together with the awareness of how many of these students form part of the burgeoning collective of youth who typically possess a proclivity for the digital medium, we focus here on the learning material language educators in the ICLHE classroom can use to engage students in learning threshold concepts that are necessary for them to write reasonably competent expository essays as beginning academics.
This study attempted an examination of the benefits of digital education and its future in the educational sector with particular emphasis on artificial intelligence which has dominated teaching and learning processes. The evolution of education technologies has impacted immensely on education, especially with the ascendancy of artificial intelligence which has added another dimension to the impact of educational digitalization. Both teachers and students are beneficiaries of this technological boom. Intelligent technology is also taking the lead in universalizing or internationalizing education. Distance learning platforms, mass open online courses (MOOCs), and other virtual models have made tremendous impacts in global education as learners can now choose how, when, and where to learn since distance is no longer a barrier to teaching and learning processes. The outbreak of COVID-19 has also strengthened and increased the value size of digitalization in the educational sector.
This chapter brings the previous chapters together and develops some of the examples used from those chapters further by using Giddens’ discussions about the double hermeneutic in discussions about youth and theory. Giddens shows how the conceptual tools and perceptions used in social theory are gradually implemented into everyday life. Concepts and knowledge produced in scientific contexts seep into everyday life and become part of the meaning-making process. In this chapter, we will look more closely at how these translation processes contribute to constructing theoretical landscapes and conceptual tools in youth studies. By discussing the concepts of “girl power” and “young men as a problem,” as well as digital natives and unaccompanied youth, we will discuss the problems of contributing to stereotypical uses of conceptual tools involved in youth research.
Technical Report
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This report presents an overview of gaming consoles and a comparison of consoles and the PC. Benefits of games to learning and the learning environment are touched on, as is the use of games consoles in research and teaching. Issues pertaining to potential future applications of games and consoles to learning and teaching, especially through the enhanced functionality of consoles, are addressed. The report concludes with an overview of other gaming platforms, and a summary of key points and trends to monitor. To assist in the compilation of this report, an email survey was undertaken of various computer and video game researchers in UK academia, and video game companies worldwide, in 2002. This survey was useful in discovering trends, perceptions and examples of non-gaming uses of video games and gaming consoles.
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In this paper, critical discussions of electronic presentation software, initially focused on PowerPoint, are reviewed. The potentials and pedagogic implications of newer forms, such as Microsoft Producer, Prezi and Xerte, are then considered. Discussion turns to whether teaching technologies, including face to face formats, constrain or prompt pedagogic innovation. An argument is developed about using presentation software in a different context to construct learning objects (stand-alone online resources), to isolate the effects of the presentation software itself. Finally, non-technological issues which also affect actual use are considered, especially in teaching subject specialisms like leisure studies.
As a result of changing conditions of funding, emanating in a sense of crisis about viability and the need to find new sources of revenue, many universities in Australia and elsewhere are moving into new areas of application in novel partnerships with corporate organizations, to deliver ‘work-based learning’. But what may promise to resolve a fiscal crisis sometimes can generate practices which prove deeply unsettling for the context in which they are embedded. In this article we explore the extent to which new modes of work-based learning represent a legitimation crisis for universities as well as exploring their implications for the corporate partners. Data from an ongoing study of such a partnership between the ABC Co, a global financial industry firm, and a large university dedicated to forging practice-based relationships with industry, are drawn on. The conclusions that we reach suggest that the reality of the new knowledge age of workbased learning is, perhaps, rather more a question of impression management, jointly negotiated on both sides, than a brave new world.
Academic research and newspaper stories suggest that academic misconduct, including plagiarism, is on the increase. This apparent increase coupled with new internet enterprises selling ‘pass’ papers and customized research are worrying trends. Academic misconduct is deeply harmful in a number of ways by devaluing awards, frustrating academics and demotivating ‘honest’ students. Despite the heightened attention given to it, the entire subject seems to be clouded in uncertainty, not least what students themselves think. This article addresses student attitudes and understandings of academic misconduct. Findings from a study conducted within a large business school indicated that teaching on plagiarism was ineffective and there were many misunderstandings, which had coincided with high levels of unintentional plagiarism, bogus referencing and collusion. First-year students in particular experienced difficulties. As part of this article a theoretical framework for understanding student behaviour is proposed which may suggest various improved learning and teaching strategies.
Background: Academic staff have a key role to play in the innovation efforts of universities aiming to exploit the potential of web-based learning technologies. Although learning technologies are an important building block of educational innovation, the eLearning adoption rate of European academic staff appears disappointing. The majority of curricula in European universities are stalled in the traditional pedagogical model of knowledge transmission, which continues to dominate teaching and learning.Purpose: This conceptual paper explores underlying structural and cultural barriers to technology-enhanced innovation in higher education.Sources of evidence: Starting from the underdeveloped state of eLearning in European universities, the paper challenges arguments that visible barriers such as technical issues, budget constraints or lack of interest in technology amongst academic staff represent the actual reasons for the slow advancement of learning technologies in university curricula.Main argument: The paper argues that the lack of faculty interest and engagement for eLearning are visible symptoms for deeply rooted causes, which hinder current innovation efforts of universities. It explores theoretical viewpoints for structural peculiarities of universities, motivational and habitual traits of academic staff, and long-standing cultural values in the academic community in an attempt to understand their impact on technology-enhanced innovation in higher education.Conclusions: The real dilemma for eLearning innovation is caused by macro-level influence factors that even committed universities can hardly overcome at institutional level. University leaders have to take the underlying innovation barriers into account when they try to engage academic staff for the use of learning technologies. With a realistic view on existing limitations, institutional eLearning adoption efforts have to be tailored to serve real learning needs and motivations of academic staff; and they have to consider specific goals and contexts within different universities.