Diana Oblinger at UMW Faculty Academy

This is part of an ongoing series of summaries of, and reactions to, academic technology conferences.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Diana Oblinger, Vice-President of EDUCAUSE and Director of the EDUCAUSE National Learning Infrastructure Initiative.

She centers this talk on the students/learners and the implications of teaching and learning technologies. She uses idea of Net Generation students/learners (digital, connected, experiential, immediate, social).

Their learning preferences include:
Teams (not always group work, but they are social)
Peer-to-peer (learn from each other as readily, if not more readily, than from teachers)
Engagement and experience, visual and kinesthetic learners (much less experience with text, much more tuned into movement and visuals)
Things that matter (need to make material relevant to them)

Students want some technology, but not exclusively technologically focused (i.e., online).

Personal Response Units (clickers) allow concept inventories, engagement assessment, and student involvement in class.

Simulations, online laboratories, working with real world data allows engagement with experiential material, relevant material.

Some experiments look at the use of technology, space and learning. For example, Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs (http://www.ncsu.edu/per/scaleup.html) includes small group work in physics classes.

This generation also has hypertext minds which is a problem at times: Short attention spans, failure to reflect, problems with text literacy, problems with assessing source quality.

Libraries vs. Google as world of information.
[Help to include library resources within CMS like Blackboard.]

What can we do?
–Make learning experiential and interactive
–Consider Peer-to-peer approaches
— Acknowledge significant percentage of non-traditional/adult learners and their need for greater programatic flexibility

Young students were least satisfied with exclusively online courses than compared to Matures (most happy) and Boomers (2nd) and Gen Xs (3rd in happiest).

Next generations (current high schools):
–Cradle to grave e-portfolios
–Not expert users, laptops are tools
–Informal learners
–Prefer internet research to online learning

Teen’s web use
–100% use the web for information
–IM key communication (email too)
–Want new & exciting information from the internet
–Use internet to learn more, communicate, community
–Multitasking is common (web, phone, TV, Radio)

This matters because of neuroplasticity — the brain does reshuffle and rewire based on information and the ways that that information is received.
–Increasing use of visual communication means we need to access some of those approaches.

Remember that these patterns change every 3-4 years.
— Don’t assume that they come from the same environment
— Don’t assume that they understand technology just because they can use it.

Where do we go from here?
Start with: What has changed about our students? [Makeup? Learning preferences?]
What are the options? [New teaching/learning options?]
What should we do?
What is the right balance? [Action vs reflection, Visual vs text, Social vs individual, etc.]
What must we do to be successful? [Remember that this is a group effort — Combine Vision/Leadership, Service Delivery (student, faculty, admin support), Infrastructure (technology and financial), Organization, Process]

“The goal is an organization that is constantly making its future rather than defending its past.”

See also — http://www.educause.edu/educatingthenetgen/

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