THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

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The digital revolution has spawned a new generation of young people who have immersed themselves in modern-day technologies. According to Prensky, what he refers to as “digital natives,” may have a strong influence on shaping contemporary society. Unlike previous generations that may not be as comfortable in a virtual world, this multi-tasking net generation has surrounded itself and created a reliance on the internet by means of blogging, playing online games, downloading music, and using social media sites to interact (Ng, 2012, p. 1065). However, current concerns of safety, privacy, digital literacy and pedagogy continues to raise questions on how we, as a collective society, will need to further debate the value of digital technologies and the future impact it may have on society and culture.

Digital technology has brought many benefits and has offered its users a wide range of opportunities. Information communication technologies have generated innovative ways to learn, to develop new skills, to keep in touch with friends and family, and to develop new relationships. However, according to Selwyn (2009), there are concerns about both the inappropriate and challenging uses of the technology and the possible threats to young people’s security and safety that can permeate online (p.368). And as these technologies have eliminated borders on a large scale, safety issues may very well be an international concern.

Issues such as cyberbullying, cyberstalking, possible pedophile contact, and other unwarranted behaviors are major concerns with online use. On social network sites, disclosure of personal information is reaching a troubling level. As young people engage in increased interactive online use, the greater the chance they leave themselves open to unwanted contact by online strangers (Edur-Baker, 2009, p. 111).  As the technological environment continually expands, communication policies may need to be adapted to meet the complexities of these disturbing online patterns.

What needs to happen to alter current perceptions of ethical internet use, and ratify collective change? Changing online behaviors and adapting responsible online use may need to be established with proper education and supervision (Edur-Baker, 2009, p. 122). One way this may be achieved is by parents and educators having a stronger online presence and a greater exposure to contemporary information communication technologies to understand how these tools can be used to help keep the “digital native” generation safer from online dangers (Palfrey, 2008). Ultimately, additional research and current procedures may need to evolve to expand Internet safety.

Another area of concern is the radical effect that digital technologies are having on traditional forms of literacy and pedagogy. According to Selwyn (2009), new forms of technology have become a significant self-extension of the “digital native,” resulting in the disconnection and separation from formal instruction and institutions (p 368). Therefore, putting technologies into the classroom and allowing young people to effectively use current media may be of relevant importance to their learning experience (Palfrey, 2008). On the other hand, further concerns as to the appropriate use of technologies within a learning environment may also need to be addressed. For example, in some cases, modern-day technologies have led to a more passive consumption of information and a lack of appropriate skills needed to properly research and acquire legitimate online data (Selwyn, 2009, p. 372). As young people now have a wide variety of ways to access information, the current educational system may have to align itself and bridge the digital gap between the generations to accommodate how this more technologically fluent generation interacts with instruction, as well as with educators (Helsper & Eynon, 2009, p. 504). 

What may need to happen to achieve vital changes in current organizational structures is to develop innovative ways of working within institutions that meets the needs of “digital natives.”  In order to address these requirements, young people will need to have access to an extensive range of digital resources, which should be structured to support a more creative and collaborative approach to learning (Ng, 2012, p. 1067). However, Selwyn (2009) pointed out that it is not sufficient that young people are simply trained in new media; they need to be taught to develop critical and creative skills that will ultimately lead to a greater acquisition of credible information and knowledge (p. 374). Then again, due to the mass amounts of ambiguous and unreliable online sources, what are some possible directions institutions may move towards to help solve these issues? According to Palfrey (2008), having open access to published articles, as well as future research and development into products and software, may alleviate obscure online search results and effectively direct users to legitimate unrestricted online resources.

To successfully meet these promising pedagogical objectives, educators may need to understand the advantages that these new technologies offer the learning process and how they can benefit the overall learning environment. Not only will instructors need to acknowledge the fundamental importance of young people’s use of new technologies; educators will need to understand and model how to use new forms of media if they wish to help develop young people’s digital literacy (Ng, 2012, p 1077).  By doing this, educators and parents can play pivotal roles in helping guide young people toward a positive collaborative learning experience, thus helping to provide authentic meaning to digital information (Selwyn, 2009, p. 375).           

There are other aspects as to why educators will need to understand the huge impact technology will have on the future of pedagogy, and ultimately, how digital natives may learn in the future. According to Autry Jr. and Berge (2011), the traditional classroom environment that is currently limited to one geographical location may no longer be as effective as it once was (p. 462). Today’s tech-savvy individuals are better able to participate in greater social and active discourse from a more technologically advanced environment. It therefore seems fitting that the future of education and instruction may be headed towards utilizing more online course material. This virtual learning experience may help young people take a greater interest and responsibility in their work. Furthermore, it will help learners understand the materials from a different context and setting that allows for greater control and collaboration (Autry Jr & Berge, 2011, p. 463).  

There is little doubt that new forms of technology are radically re-shaping how information is distributed and processed. And as these changing media environments continue to influence communication, we must consider the consequences of socializing and learning in a virtual setting. Current issues of safety, privacy, digital literacy and pedagogy continue to be major causes for concern and are prompting society to re-evaluate its understanding of this new media. Additionally, this new generational immersion in digital technologies is challenging current institutions to adapt existing methodologies in order to remain relevant to young learners.  

 

References:

Erdur-Baker, Ö. (2010). Cyberbullying and its correlation to traditional bullying, gender and frequent and risky usage of internet-mediated communication tools. New Media & Society, 12(1), 109-125. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.royalroads.ca/login?url=http://nms.sagepub.com/content/12/1/109

Helsper, E.J., Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: where is the evidence? British educational research journal, 36(3), 503-520. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.royalroads.ca/login?url=http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01411920902989227

 

Palfrey, J. Born Digital. (2008, September 15). Born Digital [Video file]. Authors@Google. 61 min. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFzwzmF8Zls

Selwyn, N. (2009) The digital native – myth and reality. Aslib Proceedings, 61(4), 364-379. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.royalroads.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/217758813?accountid=8056

Ng, W. (2012) Can we teach digital natives digital literacy? Computer & Education, 59(3), 1065-1078. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/science/article/pii/S0360131512001005

 Autry Jr, A.J., Berge, Z. (2011) Digital natives and digital immigrants: getting to know each other, Industrial and Commercial Training, (43) 7,460 – 466. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/journals.htm?articleid=1954092&show=abstract

 

 

 

 

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