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Monday, April 02, 2007

April-May Issue - The Net Generation

This is something that I'd normally post to my Breaking into the Academy blog, but given the focus on today's youth (the Net Generation as they refer to them, digital natives as I've discussed here in the past) I figured that it may be of interest to my own readership.

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A message from James L. Morrison (jlm@nova.edu).

The April/May issue of Innovate focuses on the Net Generation, a generationthat grew up with video games, computers, and the Internet. The expectations, attitudes, and fluency with technology of this new generation present both a challenge and an opportunity for educators. In this special issue of Innovate, guest edited by Chris Davis, we examine how educatorsand educational systems can respond to the challenge and leverage the opportunity.

Kassandra Barnes, Raymond Marateo, and S. Pixy Ferris introduce the issue by describing the learning styles and preference of Net Generation learners and the implications of these attributes for educators. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=382 )

The technology that shapes these students' lives can seem dangerous to adults. Mark van Hooft explores the issue related to online social networking and online communication tools by teenagers. While the first reaction of many parents and schools is to limit access to these tools to protect children, van Hooft argues that children can show adults the use and benefits of the technology, while adults can develop children's understanding of the responsible use of technology. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=376 )

Because many higher education classrooms are a mix of students from multiple generations, understanding the needs of all generations is key to being effective, especially when using technology to support learning. To meet this need, Paula Garcia and Jingjing Qin describe a research project that analyzed the differences and similarities between traditional and non-traditional students in regards to comfort with technology and attitudes about learning. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=379 )

To understand the consequences of Web 2.0, Dana Wilber discusses her ethnographic study of a Net Generation college student illustrating some ofthe ways that online journals and social networking sites are used by students and providing a window for educators to consider how these tools can be used to support learning. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=384 )

Of course, technology continues to evolve in ways that shape education. John Thompson describes the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and how this affects learning and teaching. Where Web 1.0 provided access to massive volumes of information, Web 2.0 provides users with the ability to become producers as well as consumers of this information. This technology transition puts pressure on education to also become more interactive and enable learners to be producers as well as consumers. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=393 )

The impact of the Net Generation reaches beyond the classroom. Holly Peterson discusses how to engage alumni from this generation, using a casestudy of one organization's effort to establish an online alumni community. This experience can guide anyone attempting to create an online community; the lessons learned may apply to attempts to reach current students as well as alumni. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=383 )

Finally, in his Places to Go feature, Stephen Downes discusses Google as the site that most reflects the spirit and characteristics of the Net Generation. Using the Google search results for "Net Generation," Downes reflects on how the Net Generation accesses, creates, and uses information. Just as Google represents a dramatic change in managing information compared to traditional forms of media, the Net Generation represents achanging approach to media. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=455 )

We hope that you enjoy this special issue of Innovate. Please explore our discussion boards, live webcasts, and other features as well. And please forward this announcement to colleagues who are interested in using information technology in creative ways.

James L Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill

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