One of the memorable research studies that influenced my teaching was the CIBER report. This study was commissioned by the British Library and JISC and one of its broader aims was:
“to whether or not, as a result of the digital transition and the vast range of information resources being digitally created, young people, the `Google generation’, are searching for and researching content in new ways and whether this is likely to shape their future behaviour as mature researchers?” (UCL, 2008)
The CIBER report made clear among other things that:
- The new norm is skittering, meaning “move rapidly along a surface, usually with frequent light contacts or changes of direction” and flicking through pages as if “hoovering” content.
- Fast information, skimming for fast answers, like fast food; this is what makes a fast food generation.
- The younger people are the more they bounce from webpage to webpage
- Skittering impacts on horizontal thinking (surface) rather than vertical thinking (deep). Further research shows implications on people brains such as lack of critical thinking, of analysing information and of contemplating.
- Skittering fast on the web makes us think fast and simultaneously act on many different things. Multitasking seems to be stimulating.
- Older generations are catching up.
- People want personalised and customised websites. Students being exposed to non customisable Databases felt that it was very quiet and lonely there without even a greeting message personally welcoming them back to the website. People like immersive environments, those which create a sense of being there.
All the above helped me make connections and understand why my learners like “shortcuts” and struggle to think deeply. I, therefore, needed to find new ways to slow down the research process and address learners’ attitudes so that students reach new meanings and, even better, transformative ones. How to foster vertical, deep, critical thinking is a great challenge for me.
The new understanding gained is important to me as a practitioner because it reminded me that personalised learning is not only one of the students’ expectations but a matter of special focus because we operate in the campus of another university and the students sometimes feel that they don’t belong there!
As a next step, I need to explore the reflection theories so that I help my students to step back and “learn how to learn”.
- Jones, Rosie., 2011. DN – Young people doubting information because Facebook saying it’s not true. [Tweet] 18th April Available at: https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/lilac11> [Accessed 20 April 2011]
- University College London (UCL), 2008. Information behaviour of the Research of the future: A briefing paper. [pdf] London: UCL . Available at: < http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/research/ciber/downloads/ggexecutive.pdf> [Accessed 27 May 2012].