Donald G. Perrin
Each generation is a product of our ever changing social and cultural environment. We have different values, different music, and different experiences based on the social, political, and economic conditions in our formative years. Differences are exaggerated by the country and culture into which we are born and specific family values from previous generations. These differences are reflected in our language, values, how we communicate and how we learn. It is also reflected in our adoption of communication technologies.
Recent Pew Foundation studies show that as we get older, we are less likely to use newer technologies. If we compare adoption of the Internet and cell phones we see some differences, but across the spectrum from internet, email, cell phones, and text messaging, we see a substantial decrease in use of the newer techologies. Here are some numbers from the Pew Studies.
Older people are much less likely to use social media such as blogs and text messaging. To quote the Pew report: “If there's one realm of modern life where old and young behave very differently, it's in the adoption of newfangled information technologies.”
Teachers play a major role in determining which communication technologies are used for teaching and learning. This raises the question of a generation gap, especially for older teachers. Do we need additional training and additional technical support to close this gap, and to what extent will such effort be successful?
In this issue we have in-depth exploration of critical thinking. We see evidence of teachers adopting mobile devices and social communication media for teaching and learning, and for improved communication and collaboration among teachers. We see how Wikis simplify collaborative development of ideas, research studies, and teaching/ learning materials. Entrepreneurial teachers that experiment with these media become early adopters. To the extent they are successful; other teachers will be motivated to follow.
Teacher training institutions are a weak link in our educational systems. The curriculum reflects needs of the past, not the future. Testing methods are benchmarked against the past, not the future. And testing must be redirected to performance testing for higher levels of learning, critical thinking, and problem solving.go top
|November 2009 Index