Should children ‘cold turkey’ from their mobile devices? The Facebook generation

Do we really need children to go ‘cold turkey’ from their mobile devices? Is there a requirement for ‘book camps’ with printed materials only? Is there a middle ground for the Internet generation? Or do we need to re-think many of our biases about how we feel learning is ‘done best’?

As I listened to the following podcast (What does the Facebook generation need to learn? – MP3 – from 2011) some of the points of view expressed felt to me like fear, that was underpinned by a sense of nostalgia.

Some aspects of learning and life  have fundamentally changed since some of the world became ‘connected’.

Siemens (2004) identifies behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism as the three theories of learning most often used to inform the design and creation of learning experiences. These theories, however, “were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology” [emphasis not in the original] (Para. 1). Instead, Siemens argues, we need to think about the flow of information in our current knowledge economy as the flow of oil through an oil pipe in an industrial economy – the difference though is that “the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today‟ (2004).

As you might have guessed from the name connectivism is based on the idea that all learning starts with a connection. The connection can be neural, conceptual, and/or social (Siemens, 2008), and learning is held to be “the ability to construct and traverse connections” (Downes, 2007). In other words, a learner makes sense of existing knowledge and reinterprets it in a way that fits within their existing knowledge framework, and in the process connects, disconnects, and reconnects “knowledge fragments through knowledge creation” (Littlejohn, 2011, Para. 3). To help facilitate connections and information sharing while encouraging life-long learning in the individual as well as the group, learning occurs within learning ecologies, communities and networks (Siemens, 2003).

Framed within connectivism, formal education systems appear flawed, because they are “trying to achieve a task (learning) with a tool (teaching) in an artificial knowledge construct (course) (Siemens, 2005, Para. 1).

So – return to the debate – I really don’t feel it’s about whether we should be denying young learners access to mobile devices. Rather it is a two-pronged momentum that is required; the first is a focus on encouraging learners to critically think about how they are using their device, building their relationships, and how they are constructing their understandings. And the second is to take a long hard look at the underlying biases that are informing the opinions of the folks in charge of making education policies, and shaping learning experiences on a day-to-day basis.

Your thoughts?

The debate panel included:

Chair: Dr Anthony Seldon, Master, Wellington College

Panel to include: Dr Sarah Churchwell, Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture, University of East Anglia; Professor Niall Ferguson, Harvard University, LSE, Author, ‘Civilization’ and Columnist, Newsweek; Harvey Goldsmith, Chairman, Ignite; Jenni Russell, Commentator, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and London Evening Standard

References:



Image: Young girl with smart phone. cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by “PictureYouth”: http://flickr.com/photos/45688888@N08/5915484733/

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About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ (http://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/). I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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