Marc Prensky’s article, “Twitch Speed: Keeping up with Young Workers,” was eye-opening for me as an educator, a media producer and parent. Presnsky wrote about how this “Twitch” generation processes information in a parallel instead of a linear fashion. As the mother of two “Twitchers,” and a media instructor who’s constantly searching for creative ways to reach and teach these tech savvy learners, bells started to ring.
As a teacher, when dealing with the 30 and under age group it appeared what I found distracting, they found stimulating. When I wanted to read, they wanted to search. Currently as an online course designer and “face to face” instructor the issue becomes how to incorporate their active learning style into affective online, f2f or hybrid instruction?
From my exploration of various 2.0 web technologies, I believe these online tools can reach and engage this group. Social Networking, Blogging, UTube video links and Podcasting, it doesn’t matter if the course is totally online or a hybrid, utilizing technology for “twitch” generation learning is an excellent approach. The “Twitch” generation thrives on random access and “clicking around” at the speed of light, while texting friends and listening to the latest downloads from their iTunes library. Since this constant motion gives me a headache, I guess my “twitch” dream may be unrealistic, but not my dream of empowering “twitchy” students to take control of their learning.
This brings me to the debate over which tools are best for reaching younger students no matter what learning styles they exhibit. Whether they’re visual, verbal, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic, active/reflective, etc. etc., all “Twitchers” appear to need motion and engagement, but just how much?
When my daughter, much like the worker cited in Presky’s article, wants to know how to solve a computer problem, she shoots off to the internet (sometimes before accessing the help button) to post and search her problem. My generation says, where’s the manual? “Twitchers” respond, “don’t know, but this website said…”
I believe this is a wonderful course design opportunity. For those who enjoy technology and computers, the challenge becomes which tools to select and why? And, how to bring the course to life while remaining true to the content and connected to your students?
Through educational surveys and discussion, I’ve learned my f2f classroom teaching style is an “expert” who embraces “constructivism.” I want to share what I know while encouraging my students to share and build on their current knowledge. As I modify this “Sage on the Stage” training I must now consider teaching alternatives that “Twitchers” would embrace.
Some of my thoughts are to extend learning opportunities with discussion posts and related online resources. Upload course Podcasts for anytime, anywhere review. Encourage active online research with Hyperlinks and embedded videos. Promote student-student interactions through team assignments and online group or student led activities. I would bring content experts into class with Wimba chats and supply access to mentors through professional Blogs. I would send out mobile phone course announcements and …hey, are we “Twitching” yet!?
To “twitch or not to twitch” is now combined in my mind with “to reach or not to reach.” This is the synthesis. What should you design to make sure the content reaches and remains with your students? How do you ensure technology is always done in an exemplary fashion while taking into account the bandwidth needs and even the disabilities of your students? In this new online world I know I may lose some of the “face to face” “high touch” I enjoy,” but the “high tech” components, if thoughtfully designed, can effectively accomplish most learning goals.