This week we are considering our technology use and the effect it has had on our learning. To begin, I do use technology freely, but I admit I do not use it as extensively as others. By this, I mean I do not have the range of electronic devices whether it be wearables, virtual assistants such as Alexa, and I only recently purchased a SmartTV. Likewise, I drive an older car, which does not have the built-in electronics of new vehicles.
However, my usage limitations are not because I begrudge electronics or technology but because I am an adult college student and I cannot afford them. Therefore, if I had my choice, I would certainly get a newer car, order a Roomba® or some other robot vacuum, upgrade my laptop, get a sound bar, and Bluetooth speakers. Of course, the list is getting longer by the minute.
On the other hand, when I consider technology use and how it impacts my learning I do not feel nearly as limited. Firstly, technology allows me to be a distant non-traditional learner. In truth, I do not think I could or would have pursued my degree if I had been restricted to a brick and mortar college.
Secondly, the educational discount has allowed me to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Suite and other applications that enhance not only my learning but also my assignments. If anything, I sometimes feel my educational experience limits my technology use because of the very reason identified in Prensky’s article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, which is “Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” (Prensky, 2001).
My point is that not only are our learning styles different but also are our technology demands and the rapidity of technology changes we experience. Therefore, the learning and application experiences in college do not necessarily equate to digital literacy or 21st-Century skills because how can the school or the instructors afford to keep current with emerging technologies?
Having said that I am reminded of the neomillennial learner and the impact to higher education (Dede, 2005). The neomillennial learner is fluent in multiple media, and virtual reality and simulations. They want to codesign their learning experiences and express themselves not in a linear fashion but by webs of associations. Neomillennial learners also want a balance in learning experiences including experiential, mentoring, and reflection. I relate to this learning style and find myself with similar expectations, particularly in the types of learning experiences.
However, it is difficult to imagine how higher education institutions can readily adopt emerging technologies because the institution of education is a behemoth, slow-moving machine. Almost like the resistant digital immigrant who finds themselves without the ability to embrace the digital culture.
I am left wondering whether the change institutions need to make is less about the technology and more about the experience. In fact, going to college was always about the experience, right? For this reason, maybe it begins with recognizing that neomillennial learners have “fluency in multiple media, and value each for the types of communication, activities, experiences, and expressions it empowers” (Dede, 2005). In other words, its about a learner-centric experience and respecting the new neomillennial students.
Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 1, 7–12.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).