Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Five Dimensional Model for Educating the Net Generation

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Five Dimensional Model for Educating the Net Generation

Article excerpt

Introduction

The world in which our children live is significantly different from that of yesterday. Today's youngsters use laptops, pagers, instant messaging, and cell phones to connect to friends, family, experts, and others in their community and around the globe. They are bombarded with visual messages from the media--messages specifically targeted to tap into the billions in discretionary spending they control and/or influence. This is a generation that expects to actively participate in and through their media, hence the decrease in time spent by teens in viewing television and the corresponding increase in time spent on computers, gaming, and the Internet. Our children now have at their fingertips a virtual world--with all its promises and pitfalls (Lemke, 2003:5).

Schooling today is an attempt to make mini-scholars out of students by giving them doses of what was meant by scholarship in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The theory of knowledge implicit here is that the educated person knows something about all the great books. This idea works when there aren't that many books in print (or at least it seems to work). But in an age when no one could possibly know something from every book that has been written, when there are enough books to go around, and when there are so many other forms of knowledge available to students, these ideas are outmoded. We must look to concepts that relate to today's world, one where there's so much to know that it is likely that students will have to direct their own education out of practical necessity (Schank & Cleary, 2008).

Public education is struggling to adapt to an intellectual, social and cultural transformation that has begun to emerge during the last thirty or forty years. New understandings on the frontiers of science, a growing awareness of the threats to planetary ecology, and a disruption of local communities and economies by the rise of globalization have made it necessary to rethink many of the basic assumptions that guided the development of modern industrial culture. It is increasingly evident that humanity faces the task of moving from an age of modernity into an uncharted post-industrial or post-modern future (Miller , 2000).

Figure 1. presents a diagrammatic representation of the relationship between an education system and on society in general. The formative years of schooling are aimed at preparing learners for an exit point into society after they successfully complete up to twelve consecutive grades. A mechanistic view of the education system demands that a feedback loop is essential to ensure that the needs of society are met through the system and is embedded in the contents of the formal curriculum which is managed by the government of the day. Change in society is inevitable resulting in a demand for learners with a new set of skills implying the need for these changes to be reflected in the curriculum of the day.

The curriculum in any contemporary democratic society always reflects the definition of democracy which that society has accepted as legitimate and true. Similarly, attempts to challenge the validity and legitimacy of a society's dominant definition of democracy always find expression in attempts to challenge the form and content of the curriculum of that society's schools. In this sense, the debates about the curriculum that occur in a democracy at any given time will reveal both how that democracy interprets itself, and how that interpretation is being challenged and revised in order to bring into being a more genuinely democratic form of life than that which currently exists. The curriculum in a democracy is thus always a curriculum for democracy, incorporating both a record of its past and a message for its future (Carr, 1998).

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One of the primary functions of an education system is to convey and ensure a mastery of a set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that a particular society regards as desirable. …

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