Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Differing Expectations?

OK - I am going to put on my flak jacket for this....

I wonder if the conversation about whether learning design should be different for the "Digital Natives" is a red herring.

There's more research demonstrating that the standard training operating procedure (stand in front of classroom, babble, watch eyes glaze over) doesn't work.

There's more research demonstrating that converting the standard training operating procedure to electronic media (create powerpoint with multiple bullets, babble if you have the technology, click Next to continue, and offer multiple choice questions to see if anyone is paying attention) isn't an improvement.

And, like Clark Quinn, I am beginning to doubt that the increasing need for more engaging and effective instruction is a result of cultural change (particularly in regards to the technologies available at the time).

Instead, I think that it is more a matter of student expectation. Cammy Bean has a fantastic illustration of this process in her recent post.

Maybe the Digital Immigrants request the mind-numbing, information-heavy powerpoint because that's what they grew up with (and we all turned out OK, didn't we?). The Digital Natives expect more engaging material because they grew up in an environment where that level of engagement (at least outside of the classroom) was the norm. I'm thinking Civilization, World of Warcraft, MySpace etc.

The expectation of engagement from the folks joining the work force for the first time can only help us all.


Michael Hanley said...

Very lucid deconstruction of the discussion Wendy!
I touched on a similar point in my reply to the LCBBQ:

"I think that [in the next 3-5 years] the changes will be more in the area of content authoring and development. ...remember how long we had to struggle with Authorware and clunky, inflexible, horrible-to-use proprietary authoring tools, before applications like Captivate and Articulate et al were eventually released?"

In my view, in the last decade, technological and network infrastructure deficiencies, not to mention a serious lack of investment, went a long way in impeding our ability to develop engaging and immersive learning; in short, our imagination exceeded our technical ability to create great educational solutions.

In one sense, the emergence of a generation that grew up with the expectation that 'digital environments provide high degrees of sensorial satisfaction and intellectual stimulation' has smoothed the path: at last the demand, and consequently the market, is there for learning practitioners to create great content.

If we look to examples like the popular Nintendo Wii Big Brain Academy I think we can see the first glimmerings how we can create learning content in the short-to medium term.

I still think we're a bit short on effective authoring tools to facilitate this. At the absolute top of my wish-list is the development of a Learning Engine - the educational equivalent of a game engine), but at least the infrastructure is almost in place now to get on with the job of using technology to enable learners to acquire skills knowledge, and expertise.

Finally(!), it's my belief that "a rising tide lifts all ships" and future developments will help everyone learn more effectively, regardless of age or background.

Cammy Bean said...

Wendy, thanks for pointing out to me that I inadvertently answered the Big Question by trying to do something differently (rather than just talking about it -- for a change!)

I think you're spot on. We should ALL be designing differently for everyone, not just the natives...

Anonymous said...

Maybe the coasting-to-retirement digital immigrants request the mind-numbing, information-heavy PowerPoint but as a 45 year-old immigrant who is more mature digitally than some natives, I expect more engaging material because I deserve not because it was the norm. If that were true than the NCLB act and all the standardized testing would be what the new folks joining the work force would want. They expect engagement because they deserve it and that's how they live outside of school - same as old farts like me.
i think we need to be careful not to design to the middle or lower. Leave the coasters behind they don't care about engagement and expect nothing more than a pension check.