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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Reflection in an Always-On Learning Environment: Has It Been Turned Off?

Source: Campus Technology

Who are the students entering today’s colleges and universities? Sometimes referred to as the Net Generation or Millennials (students born in or after 1982), we know that this is a group that has never known a world without computers and the Internet. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study on “Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 year olds” which found that not only are children and teens interacting with media (including TV, videos, music, video games, computers, movies and print) for non-school activities on average 6 ½ hours per day, but a quarter to a third of these students are multi-tasking, and using another form of media while reading, using a computer, or listening to music. Video game designer and writer Marc Prensky uses the metaphor of digital natives vs. digital immigrants to suggest that these kinds of experiences (video game playing, interactions via instant messaging, email, and cell phones, watching MTV) have actually changed the physical structure of digital natives’ brains, how they think, and consequently how they learn.

Educause’s Diana Oblinger describes how the expectations of this generation have implications for all aspects of college life. Faculty and instructors will find the learning styles of these students oriented towards teamwork, experiential activities, and the use of technology such as online discussions or simulations. Institutions must provide students with a campus infrastructure that enables them to be connected anytime and anywhere through cell phones, email, and instant messaging. Administrators and staff must meet a strong expectation for excellent customer service and immediacy with a low tolerance for delays during the admissions process, and in student services and academic advising. The learning environment that students reside in is one that is characterized by multitasking, visual orientation, immediate gratification, and parallel processing.

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This entry was posted on September 22, 2005 by in Uncategorized.

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