I'm doing some research on - How do students think differently because of growing up on the internet? How has it affected their thinking, learning habits, processing information. What are some of their innate ways that differ from previous generations?

This could be an interesting study, because we as educators don't recognize the differences in how this generation processes, gathers, and analyze data to solve problems. Most of us are still using traditional linear methods of releasing information that includes long hours of study and comprehension. This generation learns in smaller "bursts" of information, with the ability to jump to new topics of interest instantly to break-up boredom and re-energize. They then return to the original task with new found energy and clear thinking. Some of this comes from Prensely's book "Digital Natives". The memorization and recall of information is no longer an indicator of a students success in the workforce. Their measurement will be more on problem solving and working in teams, collaborating solution. Your thoughts....

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Agree 100% - Nice to meet you too!
Hmmm - back to the original question of "How do students think differently?". Firstly my responses are generalized for western students in Canada, and my lack of travel limits my observation of the rest of the world.

I think that first off, students feel entitled to use technology. They are frustrated with the educational systems' general inability to keep up with the 'real world out there' and as such, we have created a barrier to authentic experience before we have begun. Secondly, students don't realise that in order to process the vast amount of knowlege and content the encounter, they have to have a basic level of knowledge - or framework (schemata) from which they can begin to comprehend the information they are mining. I did not see the purpose of memorising the top 50 minining cities in Canada, and being able to locate them on a map for the test when I was in grade 10, some 30 yrs ago, and I think that today's student is even more skeptical when "old school" practices are what they encounter in the classroom. I also think they feel a need to work collaboratively. They have learned that this is far more efficient for solving some challenges, and they want to use this model first. They like the social interaction that come with collaboaration, and the instant feedback, even from peers.
I fear that if the tecological infrastructure of Education does not keep up in the next 10 yrs, many students will no longer 'play the game' and students and parents alike will question if sitting in class writing on paper, or using out of date OS tools and software is really the best use of their educational time.

I think that an equally important question is how do we define the role of the 21st century teacher? How do we see our role in the changing face of 21st century education? (Note to self, that all respondees in this forum are already the leading edge of this wave) I am really glad to be here :)
Valerie and Cprofitt, I agree with you totally :) ... and I would just like to add as a reminder and in addition to what I've written about leader, followers and the curricula: the new technologies enable our students to understand themselves better, unleash their personal talents and realize their true potentials.

Although, I wasn't born much long ago (hehe) I was deprived! I'd say I found myself very late in life. Part of it may be because I am generally a slow learner :D But a big part of it is also because I am very selective in how I want to learn and because throughout school I always felt that I was being forced to become a clone of everyone else.

So basically, what I am trying to say is that: we are all creative in our own way. Hence, we all have the potential to be leaders. And when it comes to being good followers ... as sometimes that can be the need of the hour... then that too is an essential life skill ... We can achieve it through collaboration and it should rather be called 'agreeing with eachother' as opposed to 'following'!!
Hi Valerie,

I agree with you totally. What does the 21st century teacher look like? 21st century teachers haven't been given new pedagogical techniques to deal with the 21st century student. And if they have been given new techniques, it's certainly not the definitive solution. The collaboration tools and communities tools that the internet offers ie. facebook, twitter, blackboard, blogs, wiki are great tools, but it will take some time and exploration to come up with way these tools are best used in education. So far, my experience at the university level is that all our kids are tech savoy. They know how to find information fast, quickly, and accurately (most of the time). What I see as not happening yet is how to build a true virtual community. Were the interaction is real and ideas happen spontaneously and ideas build upon one another. This is what I'm working on. The technology is their - the way to use them in education is coming.:) Thanks/.
@ Ron "The collaboration tools and communities tools that the internet offers ie. facebook, twitter, blackboard, blogs, wiki are great tools, but it will take some time and exploration to come up with way these tools are best used in education"

Agreed! I also think one of the key steps in this regard will be for our self-governance groups ( be it NGO's or Unions or whatever is in your area) to issue some form of clear principles or guidelines for safe use of technology by teachers. I hear lots of "horror stories" and read about "reactive controls", but I have not found a local document here that indicates how one might be permitted to use non-board owned services in a manner that is supported from a professional position.

Is anyone familliar with any such guidelines? I'm interested to see what is out there in this regard!
I definitely agree that our students are beyond the old school style of learning, memorization and recall. Anybody working with students today is faced with the challenge of keeping up with their learning style which at times seems jumpy and scattered. I think that what educators must do in order to engage students is tap into their immense knowledge base of the technologies they use i.e. twitter, facebook, blogs, wikis, and teach the students to verify what is a reliable source and what is not. This type of work as stated in "Digital Natives" is best done in collaboratively. Obviously this requires that educators take a leap of faith and try to keep up with the younger generation's use of the tools of learning. It also requires that our decision makers allow for flexibility in the use of technology instead of clamping down on the use of certain digital tools. What is needed is to show students how these tools while great for social interaction, can also be used as learning tools.
Soapbox is good! I think we need to have these discussions at this level.

Education has changed with the times. For example; during the end of the agriculture era, we changed our education from apprenticeship to formal education (classrooms setting with course majors etc.) to meet the needs of the industrial era. We are now entering another new era - Information era. This effects our education system again and we have to change to meet the needs of our up and coming business models.

Thanks for the information on SpacedEd. I will take a look at their site.
You make an interesting point about defining how older folks learn to contrast it with the digital natives. I think it's more about how individuals learn and less about their age but I concede that the availability of different technologies does have an effect. However, I would disagree that the jobs of today are the same as the jobs 20 years ago. It could be that the newspaper is the only place those archaic jobs are posted because the newer jobs and the future jobs are posted on the internet. You can't consult a newspaper and see a complete listing of the different types of jobs that are available. Look at Monster.com or careerbuilder (which is based in newspapers) and you'll see plenty of jobs that didn't exist 20, 15, or 5 years ago.
Hi Donna,

I've seen Michael Wesch's work on YouTube - good stuff...
I wonder if there really is a difference in the way that people learn or if technology just makes it possible for people to learn in ways that they have always wanted to learn? Of course previous generations may not have known that they wanted to learn in this way, but I bet they did subconsciously.

Andrew Pass
After last weeks CES show and all the fuss about 3DTV I found this article about the potential of it in the classroom. Some really exciting stuff.
I think it is really important to ensure our kids have a 21st Century Planet that will be worth living on. Here are 5 things you can do to make your school greener, smarter and save it over $10,000 per year. Some really worthwhile content in it.



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