Tuesday, February 22, 2011

3. Digital Natives and the Interaction Age

Facilitating Engaged Learning in the Interaction Age Taking a Pedagogically-Disciplined Approach to Innovation with Emergent Technologies

By Jennifer M. Brill and Yeonjeong Park
International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 2008, Volume 20, NUmber 1, 70-78

This article is quite intriguing. It does set to walk about a very arduous agenda: explore the intersections between traits and students of the Interaction Age, affordances and abilities of emerging technologies and the concepts of engaged learning. However, even within a limited amount of depth in the exploration path it takes, a number of very important reflections arises and are brought to the attentive reader as sources of fruitful considerations, around planning for engaged online learning opportunities. Amongst the highlights of the article are the following:

  1. The evolution of digital networks and tools, from a transactional purpose to interactional goals. No matter what the technologies mobile, individualized and ubiquitous engagement are common threads of the most used and available technologies in today's world.
  2. Today's students can be safely considered as digital natives. They process information fundamentally differently than any other previous generation and this directly impacts their learning abilities and needs. Needs that often can be met by adoption of technologies carefully used with sound pedagogical intents.
  3. Emerging technologies are social and active. Affordances of such technologies include portability, social interactivity, connectivity, context sensitivity and individuality, rapid object identification, ability to manipulate data in experimental ways, etc.
  4. Engaged learning constructs include: interest, effort, motivation and time on task and the article presents three frameworks that propose three different sets of indicators to determine the level of engaged learning that students can experience.
Ultimately, the message of the article remains one of intentionality. As evident as commonalities between digital tools, digital natives and engaged learning opportunities may be, at the intersection of the three remain the idea that "...sound teaching and learning approaches should remain at the forefront of such scholarly agenda" for improved learning. (page 75). Examples are included in a simple table and can be used for further exploration of research and models to deepen the understanding of how such intersection can bear positive outcomes.

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