Digital learning futures: mind the gap!

The generational gap, illustrated when his 87-year-old father joined Facebook and friended his 22-year-old granddaughter. When the father discovered her update ‘WTF! Granddad’s on Facebook!’ she told him that WTF meant ‘Welcome to Facebook’, which he now uses with all his friends. These differentials happen when people of different generations get together in the same space. Steve felt we ought to be concerned about this and vigilant when this kind of thing happens.

Another relevant example of the generational gap occurred when his niece, who goes to high school, was talking about essay writing assignments and how it is great that you can easily find an essay writer these days. Her grandmother was confused as she didn’t understand what good an established author could be in helping her granddaughter with homework. The thing is, she only knew about famous essay writers and couldn’t even imagine that now, there are many academic paper writing services on the Internet students use to hire an essay writer online to deal with their papers.

The access gap, illustrated by William Gibson’s quote: ‘The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.’ Steve emphasized that when we talk about the future we have to accept that not everyone has access.

The listening gap illustrated by his own experience of career advice from a teacher who failed to listen and read between the lines, and a series of test questions interpreted creatively by students. Steve argued that we need to listen to our students and be explicit with what we want them to do. Our expectations and our student’s intentions are different. When we are using technology to mediate the conversation between ourselves and our students, we often use the wrong technology and this can amplify the distance between us, rather than reduce it.

With students relying more and more on online tools to deal with their academic load, particularly hiring essay writers to help them with writing assignments, teachers should explain to what extent students can use such tools. For example, they should be very clear when giving their students essays as homework and clarify that they can use an academic writing service and hire a professional essay writer only to help them with the paper outline and credible sources, or perhaps provide an essay sample. However, students are not allowed to submit an essay they get as their own.

Steve challenged us to consider whether we currently give our students the tools to do well, and touched upon the importance of not flipping the classroom, but flipping the roles. He stressed that students can be responsible with technology, but the teacher has to put them in the frame of mind where they become responsible. Students can be creative with technology when given the opportunity.