The Net Generation at University: facts vs fiction

31 March 2010

Chris Jones has kindly made the slides from this seminar available.

Many assumptions are made about the university experience of the new generation of digital natives. But how do these assumptions stack up to the research? This March, the faculty's CoCo Research Centre will welcome Dr Chris Jones, Reader at the Institute of Educational Technology at the UK's Open University to provide the answer. Chris will examine claims about the Net Generation and what the first findings reveal about how they encounter their university education.

The Net Generation encountering eLearning at university - Since early 2008 I have been working on an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)-funded research project looking at first-year university students in five English universities and their use of digital and networked technologies. The research examined popular notions about the Net Generation and Digital Natives to see if the claims made in the literature were supported in the English university context and to provide a sound empirical picture of students' engagement with new digital and networked technologies. See the project web site.

The project has now reported findings in conference papers and journal articles from the first phase, and this presentation will report these and early findings from the second phase of research. The second phase included two linked surveys, interviews and the 'Day Experience' cultural probe. This presentation will draw together findings from these three sources to provide a fuller picture of how first year students are engaging with new technologies both for study purposes and in their social lives and for leisure. The findings include descriptions of clusters of students, longitudinal changes across the first year of study and illustrative vignettes drawn from video collected by the students themselves. The seminar will also discuss the theoretical basis of the Net Generation and Digital Natives debate and how thinking might move on without loosing some of the insights that work in this area has led to.

Dr Christopher R Jones is a reader in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. He writes course materials for the master's program in Online and Distance Education and coordinates the Online and Distance Education strand of the Doctorate in Education (EdD). His research focuses on using the metaphor of networks to understand learning in tertiary education. Chris has a longstanding interest in collaborative and cooperative methods for teaching and learning and in the use of the ideas of communities and networks of practice.

Chris is the principal investigator for a UK Funding Council funded project "The Net Generation encountering e-learning at university" until March 2010. He was previously a co-leader of the European Union funded Kaleidoscope Research Team "Conditions for productive networked learning environments". Previously Chris has been a co-director of the Networked Management Learning research project for the UK leadership college for further education (CEL). He was also the co-director of a joint team, with Manchester Metropolitan University, evaluating the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Information Environment. He was part of the Lancaster University team evaluating the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council's (SHEFC) Quality Enhancement Framework and the program wide evaluation of the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN).

Chris has published more than 50 refereed journal articles, book chapters and conference papers connected to his research. He is the joint editor of two books in the area of advanced learning technology: Networked learning: perspectives and Issues, published by Springer in 2002; and (with Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld and Berner Lindström), Analysing Networked Learning Practices in Higher Education and Continuing Professional Development, Sense Publishers, BV.

This seminar is one of a series on the sciences and technologies of learning, brought to you by the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo).

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Time: 11am--12.30pm

Location: Room 230, Faculty Building, Education precinct

Email: 3319212d071d2f0814571e25582a26690b15145c393b