Net Gen Students, eh?

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I recently attended a session called, “Net Gen? Not so much” at the CeLC 2009 conference in Vancouver. This “Net Gen” issue is coming up a lot in my day to day work. It’s a classic extreme-position thing that gives people a lot to discuss and disagree about, and eventually land in a more informed middle position. so it’s good, I guess. In a nutshell:

  • Yes position: Net Gen learners are/think differently, they have different learning styles than “we” (their teachers, etc) – they are always wired, digital natives,  they need technology because it’s how they think/process info, it’s how they’ve been raised, etc. This idea seems to have been popularized by people like Mark Prensky . Educause put together an e-book on Educating the Net Generation Learner
  • No position: Net Gen is a broad and unhelpful concept that doesn’t describe everyone – or even most people – born 1982 or later. For an ongoing critique of the hype/research, the Net Gen Skeptic does a great job.
  • My position:  I’m with the No’s, ultimately. Net Gen is a construct that implies an argument for using technology to support teaching and learning for kids these days. I think this demographic may actually have a lot of cel phone users, which doesn’t translate to all technologies, and certainly not most of the tech used in “formal” teaching and learning. And i think we have better, stronger reasons for using technology in teaching than this (provides access to education, time/place independence, we can do high quality teaching/learning in tech supported environments, huge access to information, access to most current information , etc).  And, ultimately, it comes down to HOW you use the technology to effectively support learning… as it always does…as it always should…

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