The new shape of the student

Jones, Chris (2012). The new shape of the student. In: Huang, Ronghuai; Kinshuk and Spector, J. Michael eds. Reshaping Learning - The Frontiers of Learning Technologies in Global Context. New Frontiers of Educational Research. New York: Springer, pp. 91–112.



This chapter critically examines student characteristics in light of the popular dis-course which describes students as part of a net generation of digital native young people. Digital and networked technologies have clearly changed the possibilities for students to learn and the ways in which teaching and learning can be conducted. It is also claimed that new technologies change what students are able to learn. However the claim that there is a new generation of learners characterized by a new mentality has to be careful assessed in the light of recent empirical evidence. The idea of a generation gap between digitally native students and their digitally immigrant teachers is challenged, as are claims that pressure from this new generation forces radical institutional change on educational institutions. The chapter argues against the generational nature of the argument and separates the technological changes that are taking place from the determinist rhetoric they have been couched in. This rhetoric suggests that changes amongst students are already well understood and that their educational implications are already known and lead to generally applicable if not universal consequences. The chapter concludes by arguing that there is no one shape for students and that digital technologies open up a range of opportunities and choices at all levels of education.

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