Gen-X? Gen-Z? The Future of Education (ECI 832)

Flashback to 1982, the sun is shining outside and my dad is on the faded brown living room couch watching a television program on our clunky old television. It’s the only t.v. that we have in our house. There were no computers or video game machines in our house. Our telephone had a long, twisty cord tethering it to its home base in our kitchen. I was born in 1970, which I guess technically makes me a Generation-X person.

In our class discussions, readings, and viewings this week, we talked about the generational differences that may exist from one age group to the next. While I can recognize many of the people that I know as fitting within these definitions, there are many variations of comfort levels that exist when it comes to digital literacy. Using my own context, I LOVE learning new technological tools, apps, and coding ideas. I play many of the same video games as my students do, from my Grade 6 and 7 class to my Adult 12 classes. If I had to center in on a reason that I feel so comfortable, I would say it is because I have developed a language lexicon that can transfer from one area to the next.

“Access does not come pre-packaged with understanding” (3:30)

Do Digital ‘Natives’ Exist?

When the discussion shifted to this video regarding digital ‘natives’, I had to agree with the content creator. The age groups contain many contextual differences that can impact the degree and depth of students’ digital literacies. There may be cultural and/or other socioeconomic differences that would affect the types of media to which one has access. In my Adult 12 classroom, many of my students comfortably use Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and other types of social media. To some degree, most of their households have one or more gaming systems. Overwhelmingly, the area in which most need growth is with digital tools that are more geared towards occupations and education. For example, I usually need to spend time at the beginning of the semester assisting students in navigating their way onto Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs, Google Spreadsheet, and Google Slides. Once they begin to learn one of the tools, I see them take that knowledge and apply it in other applications.

The coalition of regional colleges for whom I work has embraced the concept of the “E-Shaped Learner” as a key component for the Coalition Strategic Plan 2022-2025. “

“Our mandate from the Regional Colleges Act is to prepare learners for the
workforce. We believe this includes ensuring learners have deep technical skills in their chosen discipline, essential employability skills desired by employers, entrepreneurial and innovation skills so needed in our province and country, and electronic literacy skills to be able to study and work in an increasingly digital world.”

“E-Shaped Learner”

The implementation of the Coalition’s plan manifests in blended learning in all of their programming, including the Adult Education programs. In my EC&I 834 post, Pivot! Pivot! Pivot! – Hyflex learning, I discuss what this looks like for me in my Adult 12 class.

These reflect the current and future movements in education discussed in the Horizon Report 2017 K-12 Edition, “Learning must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others” (p. 8). Schools need to be active rather than reactive in response to local and global changes in society.

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8 Responses to Gen-X? Gen-Z? The Future of Education (ECI 832)

  1. Lovepreet Kaur says:

    before teaching in the actual classroom, i also prefer to use all the sites by myself to get to know more about the apps. moreover, i completely agree with you, schools should be active in providing all the resources to their teachers & students.

    • Patricia Ives says:

      Thank you, Lovepreet! I agree that it is important to spend time getting to know the apps before using them in the classroom. With so many resources out there, it is easy to get overwhelmed when deciding what to use. It is a lot of trial and error! Some thi gs I have tried have absolutely bombed when attempted with the students. The students and I had a good laugh, and they learned that it is okay when things don’t go as planned.

  2. Gunpreesh . says:

    Great thoughts Patricia! I like the way you said that once your children learn about one and then try their knowledge in other applications as well. I believe learning is an ongoing process and with technology, it’s moving fast. Also, The Coalition plan is something new to me, so will surely read about it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Patricia Ives says:

      Thank you! I appreciated your post as well when you discussed the importance of balance. For all that I do with technology, there are still many hands-on and physical movements activities that I do to impart concepts. One that pops to mind is with my Biology class. When we learn about diffusion and how particles move, I have my entire class stand up and “pretend to be particles.” I direct their movement and discuss how they move around the space and across barriers. No technology for this demonstration. Lol

  3. Cymone says:

    Hi Patricia, the quote you used from the Horizon Report makes perfect sense. My concern is teachers access to resources and personal/professional motivation and commitment to learning how to navigate the digital world and be as you suggest, proactive, to teach 21 century skills, specifically us digital immigrants!

    • Patricia Ives says:

      Thank you, Cymone! I agree that access to resources coupled with personal/professional motivation are big issues. Many of my collegues have been hesitant with trying new technologies. There are some that I assisted with learning at various points. Now, some of them are showing ME new tools or tips! Many schools provide mentorships and digital/tech leaders to assist teachers. Still it would be nice if the government provided funding for teachers to get dedicated paid time for facilitated training. And… as one of our fellow graduate students, @christinebruce, mentioned, there needs to be balance in how and when we use digital media.

  4. Kelly says:

    I enjoy how you open up your blog posts each week–such figurative language that puts me right there with you. What a great way to hook your readers.

    I think that technology integration can be somewhat challenging if your schools, colleagues or divisions aren’t super helpful with PD opportunities, etc. I think the owness falls on the individual colleagues to motivate themselves to learn new things and bring it to their teaching practices, pedagogies and praxis. I also think that many people hope that there is someone on their staff that wants to learn more, and that will do the heavy lifting, and eventually teach them how to use it once they are well versed in whatever they are learning. Sometimes that can continue the pressure that people feel to keep up to date with all of the changing technologies. I also like how you talked about your experience with technology and how it has changed over time. This gives good perspective into your blog post. Thanks for a great read. Lots to think about now!

    • Patricia Ives says:

      Thank you, Kelly! In one of my prior classes, EDL 828: Leadership for Inclusive Education, we talked alot about the importance of professional learning communities within schools. What was evident in all of the readings was the importance of community in invigorating and sustaining interest in any type of change.

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