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ETEC 532 Discussion Post – The Net Generation

Tapscott (2008) asserts that students “want a two-way conversation, not a lecture-
-from a teacher, a politician, or a journalist“ (p. 18). I think that this is an important point
to keep in mind as a twenty-first century educator. Students should be involved in the
process of constructing their own knowledge through dialogue with others, rather than
passively accepting what they are told. After all, “growing up digital has encouraged this
generation to be active and demanding inquirers - not passive consumers of media
created for a mass audience“ (Tapscott, 2008, p. 18). One of the primary characteristics
of Net-Geners is their fierce independence; they see themselves as “information seekers
rather than passive information recipients” (Tapscott, 2008, p. 18). I find that students are
more willing to challenge what they learn as it is easy for them to quickly Google
answers. If they don’t understand or believe what they are told, they have access to a vast
amount of research at their fingertips. Thus critical thinking skills are increasingly
important as learners will need to learn to sift through research and make sense of the
large quantity of information available.
Not only do students today want to be actively involved in the learning process,
but they generally don’t have the attention span to just sit back and listen to a lecture.
Members of the net generation are accustomed to multi-tasking with a wide variety of
media, and listening to lectures is probably not the form of learning that would work best
for them. Instead, hands on activities like video production offer “a means for working
through the social and psychological issues that play a role in these students’ ability to
make it through the school system and life, and to help students make meaningful
connections to their communities through the production process” (Goldfarb, 2002, p.
72). This week’s readings further convinced me that students from the net generation
have some significant differences in the ways that they should be taught. Goldfarb (2002)
provides evidence that video production is an effective method of engaging today’s youth
and bringing about social change. JR’s TedTalk, “Use art to turn the world inside out”
also inspired me to want to try new projects with students that allow them to express
themselves in powerful, socially conscious ways. Whether it is through using
photographs, video, blogs, or other forms of media, students should be given the
opportunity to express themselves in ways that lead to thought-provoking discussions.
The exchange of ideas afforded by such projects could alter perceptions and that could
eventually change the world.

References:

Goldfarb, Brian (2002). Students as producers. In Visual pedagogy: Media cultures in
and beyond the classroom (pp. 57-83). Durham: Duke University Press.

JR. (2011). JR: My wish: Use art to turn the world inside out [Video file]. Retrieved from
http://www.ted.com/talks/jr_s_ted_prize_wish_use_art_to_turn_the_world_inside
_out.html

Tapscott, D. (2008). Net geners relate to news in new ways. Nieman Reports, 62 (4), 18-
19.