Monthly Archives: June 2008

Talking about what generation

I came across an interesting item in Weblogg-ed about The Dumbest Generation – a review of Mark Bauerline’s take on how students are not benefiting from the digital world in any way that will make them more discerning, literate, analytical, knowledgeable, etc.

Here’s a copy of my comment –

I’ve been teaching IT in business for almost a dozen years and I believe that the students I see in front of me are getting more and more tech-literate every year. Yes, there are still those who need someone else to set up their Bebo page but they want that Bebo page. What is more interesting is what they do with these tech tools. Increasingly they are reaching outside of their classroom and immediate environment into the wider world, forming attachments with people and (in many cases worthwhile) causes that would be outside their reach if it wasn’t for their tech tools. In my view, to say that students of today aren’t enriched by web2.0 (or whatever you want to call it) is doing them a disservice. It is up to us the teachers and lecturers to reach out to the students “extra-curricular” digital activities and apply / tweak them to the classroom and learning outcomes for our courses. The kids aren’t dumb. If the course content that we want / need to teach them doesn’t grab their attention through traditional means, we need to tune into a toolset that they can relate to. Hello digital media, here we come.

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How to reach everyone?

I find myself asking this question every year as I grade exam papers that are supposed to be the summation of students learning for the year. Some students you expect to do well and that’s exactly what they do. Some you know just wont get there (despite your best efforts throughout the year) and indeed they dont.  Some end up underachieving and you’re gutted for them. Others exceed expectations and you’re thilled for them.

However, in many cases it’s the reasons why some students do well and others dont that are most interesting. A student who chooses to spend their study hours working in McDonnells (or wherever) to earn enough money to pay for the course they then dont have enough time to devote to is just heart-breaking, but you understand where they are coming from.  Students who do badly because they cant or dont want to study are even more heart-breaking. These are the ones you need to reach the most, and you need to reach them before it’s too late. After the exam is too late.

I’m a big fan of awareness. Just how aware are our students of what they are learning and how they are learning it.  The traditional model of education looks at the product only and not so much at the process. How does an 18-year-old know what is and is not important for the professional world they are graduating into, a world they are sheltered from in their college environment? How much learning happens outside of the classroom that is invisible to the teacher? How much of this are students not given credit for?  Like how exactly do students organise themselves for project group work? How do we know that person X in the group didnt do all the work and person Y didnt do much at all? How do we know if person X was the inspiration behind person Ys contribution that caused a grade jump? There are a lot of how questions.

Answers on a virtual postcard please while I go back to marking….