Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Is It Age or IT: First Steps Toward Understanding the Net Generation

The title links to chapter 2 of "Educating the Net Generation" - an Educause online ebook.

This chapter, by Diana Oblinger and James Oblinger, points out a lot of differences between "us" - the baby boomers from the net generation. In case you are the x generation, the chapter also points out the differences between you and the net generation too.

Basically, the net generation is born connected with technology always on.

They are used to trying things out. For example, my wife always asks me if typing a certain work into the computer will break the computer. My daughter never asks that question. She just tries. If it works, good. If not, try again with another command.

The net generation demands immediate gratification. They multi-task, listening to radio, watching TV, IMing via the computer AND doing their homework at the same time. If a friend cannot provide an answer, they quickly move to the next one and ask again.

They have a very large social circle. My own IM contact list has about 50 contacts. My daughter's list is full. (MSN allows only 150 - not enough for her!) A friend of a friend is OK. She communicates with people all over the world. She does not need to know them. Just an occassional chat or online game and move on. Interestingly, for face to face relationship, it seems to be quite different. My daughter still values her kindergarten friends very much and keeps in with them often.

My list here is slightly different from Oblingers' - most likely due to the fact that I have not done a complete research into the topic.

Hence to educate the net generation, we need to organise the learning quite differently. I am yet to read the rest of the e-book. There may be answer there.

BTW, Stephen Downes gave the e-book a luke-warm review. He wrote:

The same people who think instant messaging is disruptive and who don’t like answering email on weekends are the ones who are designing and driving these online classes." And I wonder how much influence this sort of thinking had over the design of this book, from the carefully selected and well-schooled students perfectly trained to use the term "Greatest Generation" as though they meant it to the "a ha!" feeling exhibiting by faculty discovering instant messaging.

If Stephen is right, may be the answer will be found elsewhere - just not in this book.


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