I am cross-posting my contributions to a discussion thread on a School of Education Moodle thread where I provided my views on secondary students.
…The biggest difference between primary and secondary students in regards to their own ICT use is of course their age and maturity and the freedoms that come with this. For me what is also interesting is the skills and values that teenagers are assumed to have when using technology…
The Guardian published this article earlier in the year which created quite a stir online. It is written by a 15 year old about the way in which he and his friends use technology in their lives. I think it would be fair to say that much of what this kid is saying would ring true for the majority of NZ teenagers today (particularly the section on internet use (although our access isn’t as high as theirs)).
What I am saying here is that teenagers have access to quite a lot of technology and can zap around the internet pretty quickly to connect with friends (Bebo and Facebook are HUGELY important to most teenagers). BUT I strongly argue against Mark Prensky’s Digital Native/Digital Immigrant theories (article here). I think that while kids today can whiz their way around a mobile phone or a computer much faster than many of us in ‘older generations’, my research and experience with students suggests that they can do a lot of this at a very surface level (particularly accessing information on the net) but many lack the skills or a real depth of understanding as to how to use this for a meaningful (educational) purpose. We still need to be teaching these skills and ensuring that the use of technology in the classroom is purposeful - not just leaving the kids to their own devices (particularly in research - “here is your topic away you go”) because they supposedly know more than we do…
My gut feeling is that most teachers want to make sure that students are getting the most out of the information they are finding on the web, but that they themselves have not been given the professional development in order to know how to confidently teach this (although I would also argue that even when I was at school I do remember doing research projects on a ‘topic’ - today just replace the school library with the internet). I think teachers need to be reaffirmed that the skills haven’t changed, only the context and we are still using many of the same information literacy models today that were being used either before the internet or when it was in its infancy.
I also think it comes back to effective questioning and setting authentic contexts for learning… then students are more likely to be engaged with the content, dig deeper and apply their own knowledge or understanding.
I definitely over-simplified the library/internet example.
The point I was trying to make is that just like when we only had information from the school library to use, teachers were still trying to teach us not to simply copy from the book but to take notes and to have an opinion and analyse what we were reading.
I think that the skills for finding and accessing the information have certainly changed, but I would argue that the skills and processes for using this information have not changed so much.
Although, you suggest that maybe the difference lies in the nature or expectancy of students today to find things out quickly - and if they can’t they give up. I wonder if this comes back to engagement in the task and students having an authentic context for sourcing information?
Anyway, what do you think? Fair comment? Impact on teaching/learning? Your views?