Examining Generational Differences (Response to an Michael Barbour’s Blog)

Responding to Michael Barbour’s blog, Examining Generational Difference, while there is no valid or reliable proof that changed today’s generation students – would be available for immediate results if a teacher or instructor walked down the street and asked a younger person to demonstrate his or her knowledge of digital technology. Reeves illustrates that generational differences do matter. Which ever generation that the digital natives are exposed to, young learners have an advantage – rapid succession of information sharing. While Prensky statistics regarding spending hours in front of video games or digitally entertaining oneself, I took away the view that the environment has changed how students interact digitally. The only generational difference is when students who have later adopted the knowledge of digital technology as an immigrant.

While reading Presky’s, Digital Natives Digital Immigrants, I had to question Presky’s comment “Digital Immigrants don‟t believe their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music, because they (the Immigrants) can‟t. Of course not – they didn‟t practice this skill constantly for all of their formative years. Digital Immigrants think learning can‟t (or shouldn‟t) be fun.”  Of how many inspirations were born overnight through YouTube or television for digital learning.


About cadeleo
My name is Christina DeLeo, I am a grad student working on completing my Master's of Educational Technology degree at Boise State University.

7 Responses to Examining Generational Differences (Response to an Michael Barbour’s Blog)

  1. Kae says:

    I agree that being able to quickly switch tasks is a learnable skill. I would just point to the difference between people who are used to speaking via video conferencing and can also read the side channel without missing a beat. You may have seen this in a Elluminate or Adobe Connect session. You have probably also seen the opposite where the speaker has to pause and stop talking to be able read the side channel.

  2. mkbnl says:

    “Digital Immigrants don‟t believe their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music, because they (the Immigrants) can’t.”

    Neither can digital natives. All of the research, including studies that had “digital natives” as their sample, have found that the brain works in such a way that you don’t pay attention to two things at once. You pay attention to one thing for a bit and then you pay attention to another thing for a bit. The problem is that there is always a lose in the transfer from one to the other. Think about sitting down and writing a university paper on one topic for 10 minutes and then having to switch to work on a paper for another course on a completely different topic for 10 minutes and then you switch back to the first paper and so on. That is basically the process that occurs when you, and when digital natives, are paying attention to more than one thing at a time. There is a period where you have to get yourself back up to speed with where you were and what was happening. Depending on how closely you are paying attention and how often your switching back and forth, that period of time may be a small amount, but there is still a loss (at least compared to if you focused on one thing and when that was done shifted to another thing).

    • cadeleo says:

      Michael, interesting perspective on the sample studies show that a brain works in a way that allows the learner to focus on two different subjects at different increment times. Thus this would explain how workplaces are dealing with an increasing amount on young workers that text while working. For one, the young employee feels that s/he can carry on a texted conversation or connect to the web while working on the job. For ten minutes, the digital native is connecting with technology, then for ten minutes shifts the focus on the job – which is continuous throughout the scheduled work shift. I have not been able to find any supporting document that would support this type of theory, but I think this is something to explore further.

      • mkbnl says:

        Even if you think about teenagers you interact with. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re saying something to a child or teenager (still I child I suppose) and they are paying attention to something else. You ask them something that needs a response or say something that needs an acknowledgement, and they say nothing. You accuse them of not listening and within a few seconds they repeat what you were saying to them. Those few seconds are the amount of time it takes for them to refocus their attention from whatever was distracting them back to the conversation.

        If they were truly able to do two things at once they wouldn’t need that re-booting time. That’s a layman’s way to describe what the research into this dual processing has found to date.

      • cadeleo says:

        I cannot recall if I have ever been in a situation where a teenager was distracted by something else, and I’ve asked a question, expecting a quick response.
        I suppose people have different experiences where s/he would expect an immediate response from anyone, only to repeat him/herself to feel validated in the conversation.
        So if re-booting the conversation as part of doing dual processes, who is it beneficial for? The talker or the talkee?

  3. butseriously says:

    Richard E. Mayer and Ruth Colvin Clark in their book, “e-Learning and the Science of Instruction” talk about three important cognitive processes in learning that are based on principles from research in cognitive science. A couple of those principles that I thought about when reading your post and the other replies are: 1) Dual channels – people have one channel for processing visual material and one channel for auditory material; and 2) Limited capacity – people can only process a few pieces of info in each channel at a time. Too much input into one channel is hard for people to successfully process.

    I have also attended three workshops on brain based learning taught by Kim Bevill (http://www.kimbevill.com/node/1). One of the things we learned there was that playing non-predictive music while students are working can help students learn. Because the music is non-predictive, the brain can’t complete a pattern or guess what’s coming next and it stays on alert and pays attention, which means that the brain is more alert to what the student is working on. I have been in a teacher’s classroom that played that type of music (the music was by Steven Halpern) at an appropriate level in the background, and it was amazing how quiet and on task the students were. I think in that instance, because the research has proven it, listening to music can be beneficial.

    If you get a chance to go to any of Kim’s workshops, I’d recommend it. I’d also recommend the book…we used it in the EDTECH 513 class. Take that class – it’s excellent! 🙂

    • cadeleo says:

      Tina, thank you for sharing this link by Kim Bevill. I am curious of how the Music Theory would work for the Deaf community, or is there such a thing?
      I asked someone who I knew is a musician, asking if music help students learn better, mainly because the brain is alert and is aware of what the brain was focused on.
      His reply was “music evokes the emotions, so if there is something that stirs the emotions, then the student will remember that subject because of the emotions that were affected at that time.”
      I believe that makes sense to me because when emotions are stirred, the student is likely to remember that topic.

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