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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Students with Neomillennial Learning Styles and Virtual High Schools

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles: Shifts in students’ learning style will prompt a shift to active construction of knowledge through mediated immersion. Educause Quarterly, 28(1). Retrieved on March 20, 2005 from http://www.educause.edu/apps/eq/eqm05/eqm0511.asp?bhcp=1
In the above article, Chris Dede (the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies in the Technology in Education Program at Harvard University) argues that there is a new type of learner appearing in our schools and universities. These students aren't based upon demographic references, such as the baby boomers, Generation X'ers, or the children of the echo (see David Foot's Boom, bust, and echo - http://www.footwork.com/book.html ). These students are grouped based upon a set of learning characteristics and can include the next generation of students that we now see in our educational institutions, but also baby boomers, Generation X'ers, or the children of the echo.

The learning characteristics that Dede believes makes these students different include:

  • Fluency in multiple media and in simulation-based virtual settings
  • Communal learning involving diverse, tacit, situated experience, with knowledge distributed across a community and a context as well as within an individual
  • A balance among experiential learning, guided mentoring, and collective reflection
  • Expression through nonlinear, associational webs of representations
  • Co-design of learning experiences personalized to individual needs and preferences

In his article, he poses the question:

In the standard “world to the desktop” interface, which is now complemented by multiuser virtual environments in which people’s avatars interact with each other, computer-based agents, and digital artifacts in a simulated context and augmented realities in which mobile wireless devices infuse overlays of digital data on physical real-world settings; how can higher education institutions prosperly use these emerging technologies to deliver instruction matched to the increasingly “neomillennial” learning styles of their students?

As he develops the concept throughout the article, he states that there will need to be some changes in how we deliver education in order to address the issue of using emerging technologies to deliver instruction matched to the increasingly “neomillennial” learning styles of our students. The changes that he suggests are:

  • Co-design: Developing learning experiences students can personalize
  • Co-instruction: Utilizing knowledge sharing among students as a major source of content and pedagogy
  • Guided learning-by-doing pedagogies: Infusing case-based participatory simulations into presentational/assimilative instruction
  • Assessment beyond tests and papers: Evaluating collaborative, nonlinear, associational webs of representations; utilizing peer-developed and peer-rated forms of assessment; using student-initiated assessments to provide formative feedback on faculty effectiveness

As individuals who are interested in or directly involved in virtual high schools, we are in the trenches with many students who have naturally gravitated to our medium of delivery because they exhibit the characteristics of neomillennial learners. So I ask the question to all of you...

In the virtual high school environment, how are we using emerging technologies to deliver instruction matched to the increasingly “neomillennial” learning styles of our students?

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4 Comments:

Blogger C. Hoban, Jr. said...

There's High School and there's High School.

I applaud your efforts at moving this discussion forward. Along the way can we talk about GED?

http://charliehoban.blogspot.com/2005/03/why-cant-you-get-your-ged-on-street.html

9:57 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

Charlie,

I think that it would depend on the particular virtual high school. I know the virtual high school in my home province, the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation in Newfoundland (Canada), had this as one of its original intentions.

Its first purpose or mission was to provide secondary students in rural Newfoundland with opportunities to take courses that may otherwise be unavailable to them (there were also some thoughts that this may expend into our intermediate grades - seven to nine). The second purpose was going to be to provide professional development to teachers in rural areas (for the same reasons). The thirdwas to allw those outside of the traditional school setting to access the secondary courses that they would need for high school graduation.

It is the last category that I think the GED students could fall into (at least that was the thought at the time). Traditional students who were hospitalized for extended periods, students who were travelling a great deal due to involvement in non-academic activities, students who just couldn't handle it in the traditional high school setting for whatever reason, and those who left the traditional high school setting (in some cases years ago) that still wanted to complete their high school education.

I don't know if this is a common model, but it is one that could easily be implemented in any virtual high school.

MKB

10:07 AM  
Blogger virtual-wicks said...

While I don't have any personal knowledge / experience with this program, I know the state of Illinois has an online GED program:

http://www.gedillinois.org/

9:18 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

Thanks Matt... I wasn't aware of this program.

MKB

12:13 PM  

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