Diana Oblinger’s thought-provoking presentation, Educating the Net Generation, based on her book of the same title, asked how can we (better) engage the net generation in (academic)learning.
According to Diana, the net generation is focused on grades and performance. Moreover, they process information differently than earlier generations. They are:
ï¿½ Digital (though not necessarily digitally literate)
ï¿½ Experiential ï¿½ they like to learn by doing
Additionally, net geners have different learning preferences:
ï¿½ Teams, peer-to-peer (Peer learning/ peer tutoring; Students teach other students; High ability students actually gain the most!)
ï¿½ Engagement and experience (If you don’t engage them, they will tune out.)
ï¿½ Visual and kinesthetic (They don’t read texts, but they do pay attention to images and video. Get the students to move around every 10 minutes)
ï¿½ Things that matter (e.g. Service learning, use real data)
This raises a question for me: How does Diana’s argument mesh with the literature on how different people, even within a given age group, have different learning styles?
Several people in the audience had a larger concern for what seemed to be an underlying assumption of Diana’s remarks: that it is our responsibility as educators to adjust our teaching to best fit our students’ learning styles. The concern might be expressed in several ways: How much can we expect to change our students’ expectations, learning styles, etc, and how much do we need to change to reach them? In other words, how can we/should we synch with our students?
Chip German really went to the heart of the matter when he asked: what is the core content of a liberal education and what is delivery method? It may be that faculty are confusing the latter with the former. If instructional technology can suggest a better delivery method for the same content, I think we should pursue that. So the key question is really where to draw the line between content and presentation?