Just before Christmas I received several alerts to Erica Smith’s paper, The Digital Native Debate in Higher Education: A Comparative Analysis of Recent Literature, in the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology.
Over the holiday period I have had an opportunity to read the paper.
Erica analyzes “key themes and issues emerging from contemporary research on the Net generation as digital natives”. She identifies eight characteristics of digital native behaviour present in the literature:
- Possessing new ways of knowing and being.
- Driving a digital revolution transforming society.
- Innately or inherently tech-savvy.
- Multi-taskers, team-oriented, and collaborative.
- Native speakers of the language of technologies.
- Embracing gaming, interaction, and simulation.
- Demanding immediate gratification.
- Reflecting and responding to the knowledge economy.
She draws upon a range of research that questions the homogeneity of digital native behaviour. She notes, for example, Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin‘s posit that there is “as much variation within the digital native generation as between the generations”. Erica identifies “an opportunity for new research that informs theory and practice by investigating whether and how undergraduate learners see value in emerging technologies within their own diverse learning contexts”.
My own take on the debate is that we have much to lose if we impute behaviour solely to chronological age. I have seen an enormous range of dispositions to digital behaviour across and within generations. I think it is imperative that we understand personal learning journeys and their contexts.
A TedX San Diego talk by Ken Blanchard about collaboration helped me clarify my thoughts about dispositions. His consideration of essence equates with my use of dispositions (8 minutes 25 seconds into the video).
In his discussion about effective collaboration, Ken proposes that essence (heart-to-heart, values-to-values) conversations must precede form (how you are going to do it) conversations.
I am starting to think about the Sport Coaching Pedagogy unit I am teaching at the University of Canberra in February 2013. It has a significant digital demand on the participants (myself included) and I am hopeful that I can support participants’ different experiences of learning and technology within the unit by recognising the heterogeneity of their generation. I am particularly keen to learn how each of them has innovated in and adopted digital behaviour. In doing so I hope to learn about their learning and the values that have guided them.
This is Ken’s talk with three insights into collaboration: