There has been a lot of press lately about the Net Generation. Educause published a series of articles on Educating the Net Generation. I began reading the series with an article from a student's perspective.
Unfortunately, after reading the article, I do not have a clear understanding of the problem nor the author's suggestions for a solution. While I do believe that teachers have a responsibility to find every way possible to reach and engage students, I feel this article puts to much emphasis on how education needs to change in order to accommodate a student’s short attention span (a problem that is in no way the sole domain of the Net Generation).
As an example, the author notes that the Net Generation will get bored if not challenged properly. “Bored” is a word used a lot in our culture. It implies someone is not doing something to “entertain”. However, there are a few problems with the author’s argument: 1) members of all generations have been “bored” from time to time in school (the Net Generation is not the first to experience that life is not always fun and games), 2) learners often need to work very hard to stay engaged and challenged, regardless of the learning environment, and 3) education should never be confused with entertainment.
I look forward to reading the other articles in this series. However, at this point, I am still not convinced that this generation learns any differently than prior generations. While technology used in education will continue to advance (as it is in most industries), I ague that the process of learning is not different from what it was in prior generations. In addition, I am troubled that this article implies that the responsibility for student motivation falls solely on educators and the educational system. While there are many new tools available to reach and accommodate different learning styles, in the end, learning takes hard work, focus, concentration and dedication from both the teacher and the student. Whether instruction is delivered from a professor in a lecture hall or on a message board, the responsibility to learn also falls on the student. However, this is likely a lesson to be learned through experience and with increased maturity.