EDTECH 537: Examining Generational Differences

When I was in high school at the turn of the century, when you were required to give a presentation in a class you were usually given the option of creating and building a poster board (most common) or you could create a slideshow in PowerPoint (not common). The latter also came with issues because some classrooms did not have the technology setup to showcase a PowerPoint presentation and most students/teachers did not have training or experience using the software. Nowadays it is expected to use such software applications for presentations and students are expected to know how to use different technologies for completing different school assignments. We live in a digital state and internet technologies are a necessity to life no matter what age you are. When I changed careers and went back to college in 2014, the university required me to either take classes that taught you the basic Microsoft Office applications or you could test out. I was fortunate enough to have taught myself how to use these applications, but it left me wondering about my high school peers. We never got taught how to use PowerPoint, Excel, or even Word. Yes, we would create assignments with Word but was never taught about the interface options. I could see this creating problems with older students as some do not accept new technologies in place of older methods that they are used to.

After reading about the term digital immigrants, I felt my generation and older fit into this category because of the technologies we grew up with have either changed or disappeared. There is also the mixed emotions with certain devices and applications being used to help educate. For example, using video, video games, social media, and even the internet in general. Change is difficult for some people and with technology completely changing what you grew up with can be hard to handle sometimes. When I explain to friends/family about earning my master’s degree online, I do get a lot of questions of doubt about it being real or worth it.   

With younger generations growing up with newer technologies integrated into almost everything, educational coursework should be designed to help meet what they understand yet at the same time help to teach how to utilize new technologies that will be useful in life. Instructional course design for my generation would probably not be as effective for k-12 students today. Technology and cultural differences between generations should be considered for course designers to fully understand how to approach learning curriculum based on the student’s needs.

After reading Steve Wheeler’s a Convenient Untruth, it reminded me that there is a common concept that people assume they obtain information best if it is presented in a specific way (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic). I use to consider myself a visual learner because some subjects or demonstrations made more sense to me if I saw it in visual form. However, when I got into the real world I learned fast that it was not true at all and it just depended on the context or the way the information was presented. I feel instructors should incorporate learning methods to get students to think outside of their comfort zone and not give in to categorizing them based on how they feel they learn best. This could also help students (new and older generations) once they get into the real world because not everything will work in the favor, and its best if they have experience adapting to how information is being presented to them.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

McKenzie, J. (2007). Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation. From Now On, 17(2). Retrieved from http://fno.org/nov07/nativism.html

Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at http://paeaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/10c-Gen-Diff-Matter.pdf

Wheeler, S. (2011). a Convenient Untruth. Learning with E’s. Retrieved from http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2011/11/convenient-untruth.html

3 thoughts on “EDTECH 537: Examining Generational Differences”

  1. I had similar reactions from people I know when I told them I was getting my master’s degree online. My grandpa was concerned about it. He thought that it was really important that I should be able to talk to my professors. I explained to him that I can talk to the professors as much as I want through email, discussion board, video chatting, etc. He was reassured by this but still skeptical.

    I agree that change is difficult for people but it is so important for us as educators to accept change. I think it’s crucial that we never stop learning about new teaching strategies, new technologies, and anything else that can help our students.


  2. I think I am a bit older than you but remember using poster boards for presentations and PowerPoint once I was in the workplace. I have always thought of myself as a kinesthetic learner then along came YouTube! Today my students are still using PowerPoint for presentations even with encouragement to go beyond and use other applications. I have a variety of students of different ages in my classroom and sometimes think the older students are more excited and willing to learn a new technology than the younger students. Sometimes they seem satisfied with the technology they already know. I agree with you that educators need accept change and stay ahead of the technology learning curve.


  3. I only remember using a board when I had to do a science project. Truthfully, I don’t know if I like the idea of removing science boards because I enjoy going to a room and looking at the science boards.


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