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Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm Just Getting Warmed Up!



The hardest part about doing anything is beginning.

To be honest, I was pretty darned terrified about the culminating project for LIBR 285. We were supposed to come up with a research proposal. Now there were a lot of things I knew I’d be exposed to in library school—but a class on research methodologies? Yeah, I never anticipated that happening. I probably should have read the program description a little closer since it’s a REQUIRED class and all! Hah! Oh well. I did learn one thing for sure since taking this class. I love research. I love the thrill of a good hunt and the amazing feeling you get when you’re chasing down random questions and find exactly what you’re looking for. What am I going to do when I get out of library school and I lose my access to all these article databases I’ve gotten so accustomed to digging around in?

5 years ago when I was slinging dirty diapers and scraping baby up-chuck off my last clean shirt, I never thought I’d be here in library school doing anything like this. Heck. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get to read another good book again—not until the kids started school anyway.
Anyway, I wanted to talk a little about this research proposal I’m putting together. I started chasing down ideas about the Net or Google Generation back in LIBR200 when I had to come up with my first big term paper in grad school. The research on this group has been particularly interesting to me because by right of birth, I’m a Net Gener. True, one of the older ones to occupy this particular end of the spectrum but a Net Gener I am. It would be nice to think that we can grow up and make a difference and not that we're just really good video gamers who text message too much, drive too fast and tune out the rest of the world every time we plug in to our earphones!
Image from: http://eng-jan10section1.wikispaces.com/2-D-1+Generational+Images+-+Boomers+and+Net+Generation+Collage
I’m fascinated by the idea that there’s something special about my generation and that we have something worth contributing to our future generations.

I’ve used these series of projects in LIBR 285 to help me develop my thoughts a little further on this group of kids “bathed in bits” (Tapscott, 1998)—my group and have found that while much of the field regarding the enigma of us Net Geners, much has already been discussed in terms of how we learn. All this time that educators and education researchers have spent bantering back and forth whether we’re worth all the hype, the Net Geners have grown up and we’re all leaving the educational system to enter into the world as contributing members of society. What’s interesting is that some of us are coming back as teachers, child development researchers, librarians—professionals with some sort of responsibility in relaying information so others can learn and grow. 

I’m proposing a study where we evaluate the Net Geners as teachers and I’m putting together a proposal that feels so real I’m almost sad to have just started thinking about it over the last few weeks. Arguments have been made that just because we are born in the technological age, it doesn’t guarantee that we’re tech-experts. Awareness of resources doesn’t always guarantee proficiency. I want to look at whether or not the Net Geners are actually contributing to the pool of resources made available by the advancements in technology, specifically in regards to Web 2.0. Or are we merely observers? If we really learn differently, do we in turn, teach differently? Is there any validity to this question at all?

I pulled an all nighter putting my paper together last night and really burned the candle at both ends with these questions running through my mind. It was hard enough coming up with the questions… but how do I prove any of it? 

I’m fascinated with the idea of Mixed Methods research. I like that this type of research combines the best things about purely qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. I see this type of research having some real value out in the field necessitating the collaboration of various experts where you’d have a principle investigator, and specialists in qualitative and quantitative methods in addition to probably some statistics specialists… we’re talking big here. 

Education and even library programs are getting cut everywhere so we need to be even more innovative—more creative more resourceful and I see a time where research and more focused areas of study will be even more beneficial to the fields of education and information literacy than ever before.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Idea Stream: Net Geners Teaching Net Geners


I've been chewing on this possible introduction to the research proposal I'm brewing together for my LIBR 285 class. What do you think if I explored the idea of Net Geners teaching Net Geners?

There’s so much research on this group… one of the heaviest researched generations in history in terms of information literacy and instruction but it always seems to come from the stand point of Us vs. Them: “They are different”… “They learn differently”. 

Idea of bridging the generational gap to reach the students to teach them comes into play. Question of whether or not they’re surpassing their teachers and parents in their knowledge of things related to technology. Do they know more than we do? Do we still have something valuable to teach them?

The question we shouldn’t be looking at in this day and in this time is now that the first wave of Net Geners has grown up, are their methods of teaching helping the younger classes learn any better? It’s not a matter of us vs. them. It’s a matter of us vs. us. 

Additionally… we’re all members of the Net Generation now as technology has imbued all of our lives in ways we take for granted now and don’t even realize anymore. Regardless of when a teacher is born, Net Gener, Digital Native, Digital Immigrant or not, are we using digital initiatives and emerging technology in a productive way to reach this generation of “children bathed in bits” on the same field as to ensure the progress of our future? We don’t need to bridge the gap anymore. We ‘re already there. 

While much of the field regarding the enigma of this generation has already been discussed in terms of how they learn, the time has come to look at how the Net Geners teach. What are they doing differently in their classrooms and are the students responding with favorable outcomes? 
A possible Outcome could be: "Improved Learning; happier, more engaged students"


Keywords: assessment; instruction; learning; e-learning; "UbD Understanding by Design"; cognitive apprenticeship

I've done a little bit of digging and so far I've come up with some possible leads:

  • Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe
  • Engaging Ideas: The Proessor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking and Active Learning in the Classroom. 2nd Edition by John C. Bean
  • A Guide to Authentic E-Learning by Jan Herrington et al. (Routledge)
  • Allen Collins "Cognitive Apprenticeship"
  • Big name for information literacy instruction: Megan Oakleaf. (Project Muse)

Emailing Joanne for assistance gave me some ideas for evaluation and that's to think more along the lines of a qualitative researcher: 

"I wonder if you think more broadly about this topic and frame it as a qualitative study that seeks to better understand the experiences of...Net Gen teachers, or teachers who teach Net Gen students, or something to that effect.  Because I tend to approach research from a very qualitative stance, I automatically think about studies that seek to better understand or present someone's experiences or stories.  You could design a qualitative study (maybe a case study or an action research project) that contributes to the body of literature in this area, without focusing on issues such as curriculum, teaching and pedagogy, etc."



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BIGGERING

I love that word from Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: "Biggering". Given that it's the week after Thanksgiving, I find that word very appropo to my situation entirely. I'm not just talking about my expanding waistline (thanks Grad School! thanks a lot.), I'm talking about the culmination of my final projects this semester.

Specifically, I'd like to talk about this final project for 285. The task is to create a research proposal including: 
  1. A Research problem/question 
  2. Short literature review 
  3. The significance of the research 
  4. Plan for data collection and analysis 
My question is that pretty much all I learned from my research into the literature of how the Net Geners learn there are just two competing camps that both have very valid arguments. But the fact is, the research on this group is already so saturated, I just can't find an in anywhere! One possibility is maybe looking at how the older end of the Net Gener spectrum is teaching the younger.

From my lit review I determined the general consensus was that the age range of this particular group is 3rd grade to post graduate school now. The question was always whether teachers were able to bridge the digital divide and generational gap to reach these new students... but given time since the original argument came out... the Net Geners are now old enough to teach.

I could come up with a proposal where I look at new teachers in a specific age range to see if their methods have any improved effects on student learning outcomes but even this idea is so plagued with issues... 
  1. Do teachers really have THAT much control over what they get to teach and how they get to teach it? or is that primarily in the sole power of the administration? What if they're just copying traditional methods of teaching? 
  2. How do you even MEASURE how a kid is learning now vs. how they learned 10 years ago when the methods and topics have changed anyway?! 
  3. I don't know enough about teaching in the schools to make an academic enough argument to know whether what I'm proposing is even do-able! 
 Or quite possibly--I could reverse my view and instead of looking at how Net Geners LEARN, I could ask the question where I propose to study how do Net Geners TEACH? *head in hands* I should have started this paper LAST YEAR.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Terms! Terms! Terms!

OK. So here's what I'm dealing with. My goal is to write this literature review by Monday MIDNIGHT so I'm compiling my notes now. One of the biggest hurdles I've come up on now that I'm organizing my notes to write is the issue with terms. 

TERMS!


WHO is the Google Generation? 


(Berk, 2009) sums it all up pretty neatly and THEN some... I've come across most of these in my research, but not all and have been compiling a list that looks similar to this, although not quite as comprehensive.


  1. Millennials: Howe and Strauss (2000) indicate that the students actually coined that term themselves to disassociate themselves from Gen X. These authors also use 1982–2001 for 18 childhood years for the high school graduating class of 2000 as they entered the new millennium.
  2. Generation Y (or Gen Y): This term appeared first in an editorial by Nader (2003) in The Age to refer to teenagers born between 1977 and 1978. They are now considered part of Generation X. It was derived simply from the succession of one generation to the next—the demographic cohort following Gen Xers. (Note: This logic has already been applied to naming the Next Generation after this one, Generation Z [Tapscott, 2009].) Gen Y turned out to be a pejorative label which many teenagers found offensive. It says nothing about their distinguishing characteristics or behaviors.
  3. Echo Boomers: This term relates to the size of this generation and its relation to the Baby Boomers. The Baby Boom has an echo and it‘s even louder than the original (Tapscott, 1997, 2009). They are the offspring of those Boomers. The ―echo boom‖ of more than four million births occurred between 1989 and 1993. The current cohort is now the second largest demographic in the U.S.
  4. Net Generation (or Net Geners): This term was coined by Tapscott (1997). It is linked directly to the (Inter)net and the emerging digital technology of the 1990s with which this generation grew up. They never knew a world without computers and the Internet.
  5. Trophy Generation (or Trophy Kids): This term is derived from competitive sports and the practice where no one loses and everyone receives a ―trophy‖ (actually a certificate) for participating (Alsop, 2008b; Tulgan, 2009). In other words, everyone wins and should be recognized for their efforts. There is a perceived sense of entitlement by members of this generation. These students are success-driven with a pressure to excel in school, sports, hobbies, and just about everything they do (Alsop, 2008b). They assertively seek constant feedback, responsibility, and involvement in decision making (Alsop, 2008a).
  6. First Digitals: This term is associated with the Digital Revolution during the 1990s. This generation is the first to grow up immersed in everything digital.
  7. Dot.Com Generation: This term characterizes the students who received intensive education in information technology prior to entering the university in 2000 (Stein & Craig, 2000).
  8. Digital Aboriginals: Tarlow and Tarlow (2002) draw on the aborigines‘ view of the world that all things are connected and analyze this generation‘s behaviors from an anthropological perspective
  9. Nexters: Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak (1999) use this term in their book to refer to this generation. It might be considered a slang version of Next Generation.
  10. Digital Natives: This term coined by Prensky (2001a, 2001b, 2006) explains a lot about these students‘ characteristics in the context of the growing technology in the 1990s, but has also been fraught with considerable controversy. They are branded as ―digital natives‖ because ―digital‖ is their native language. They are ―native speakers‖ of the language of computers, video games, and the Internet and have spent their entire lives surrounded by computers, cell phones, and all the gadgetry of the digital age. As you walk across campus, you will notice that these teen and 20-something students have wires coming out of every part of their bodies. Attached to those wires are MP3 players, iPods, Zunes, Zens, iPhones, RAZRs, BlackBerrys, or the latest techy gizmo or thingamajig (Junco & Mastrodicasa, 2007; Mastrodicasa, 2007; Oblinger, 2008a).


Next: WHAT is INFORMATION LITERACY?!


I've seen it referred to as:

  • information fluency
  • information competency

NOT to be confused with:

  • computer literacy
  • technology literacy
  • digital literacy

Technology has increased the amount of available information but the skills associated with IL are about finding and dealing with information NOT about the medium in which it is produced or viewed. 



Information Literacy:

  • Media Literacy (visual literacy, computer literacy)
  • Research & Library Skills (searching, boolean logic, etc)
  • Critical Literacy (critical reading, critical thinking, etc)
  • Information Ethics (copyright, security & privacy, etc)     




Saturday, November 3, 2012

PEW Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Research Center is a non-partisan fact tank--operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the International Revenue Service code--that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping American and the world. I stumbled across this really amazing site from one of the resources I was directed to on my quest to clarify the exact meaning (if one exists) of Information Literacy last week. For the purposes of my 285 research class, I'm mostly interested in the Pew Internet & American Life Project.


This 115 page report is a survey of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers who found that teens' research are changing in the digital age. Of course this isn't anything new to argument I'm currently looking at involving both sides of the net-gener debate BUT what's interesting about this particular piece is the extensive research that is both current and very comprehensive.

Retrieved from: http://pewresearch.org/
I am so very excited about this particular study--hot off the presses, published only two days ago. A quick summary of findings of some of the really fascinating heading topics that hit my research questions DEAD ON:

  1. The internet and digital technologies are significantly impacting how students conduct research: 77% of these teachers say the overall impact is “mostly positive,” but they sound many cautionary notes
  2. The internet has changed the very meaning of “research” (see the graphic left)
  3. Most teachers encourage online research, including the use of digital technologies such as cell phones to find information quickly, yet point to barriers in the school environment impeding quality online research
  4. Teachers give students’ research skills modest ratings
  5. Most teachers give students modest ratings of “good” or “fair” when it comes to specific research skills
  6. A richer information environment, but at the price of distracted students?
I'm so excited. This is the keystone piece that's going to glue all my research together regarding today's youth and their information literacy skills.

More to Read
Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say by Matt Richtel (New York Times): November 1, 2012