Thursday, December 29, 2005

Today's Generation Y is tomorrow's Adult Learner

After reading this quick description of Generation Y, the first thing I think about is that Generation Y is the Adult Learner of the near future. This Adult Learner will be (and has been) marketed to by companies in very slick high-budget multi-media fashion (via the Internet, TV, Movies, print advertising, etc.). Their expectation for a good product is consequently very high and they have many choices to make!

Here's an example, I went to go see the movie The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe last Tuesday and I took a Generation Y member with me. When we discussed the movie afterwards, she said the story was good but the special effects could be better. Her exact quote was "it was no Lord of the Rings for special effects." This got me thinking that her expectations about special effects in fantasy-type movies are very high (I mean very!) due to her experience with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that was released between 2001 and 2003. Had The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe come out before the Lord of the Rings Trilogy it would have been hailed, but now it is slightly inferior in special effects despite spending approximately $150M on the movie according to this website (which is a higher budget than each of the Lord of the Rings Movies... chalk it up to inflation perhaps?)

My point is that as educators we must consider the expectations of our target market (the forthcoming Generation Y people) when designing and developing courses and curriculum. They have experience and expectations that if we can strategically address then we can successfully compete for their satisfaction and their tuition dollars. They have traditionally had so many choices to make as a consumer that they can be discerning. Lets make sure they choose our institutitions because we're attractive, innovative, exciting and enjoyable. Gone are the days of the professor that reads our of the textbook. That's not going to fly anymore.

What do you think? Post a comment below.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pause a second and think about blogging for educators

I think bogging can be a very useful practice for a practitioner because it gives an opportunity to chronicle and reflect upon your work. It's the reflection aspect that really helps us learn in my view. I think in the field of education we need to do more of this. My partner is a clinical social worker. She sees clients every day and after seeing them she write case notes into her files. These case notes are personal notes of hers as to issues surrounding the client's therapy. Invariably she is also chronicalling the strategies and approaches she is undertaking in the treatment of her clients. During this documentation process it gives her the opportunity to reflect upon her chosen approach, to look back at previous entries in the file, and to (re)consider if the chosen strategy is demonstrably effective or needs to be modified in some way. The aspect of reflection upon previous notes is the key here. So I use this blog to chronicle my activities as an Instructional Designer and Professor, and I often look back upon it for ideas, and also to get a sense of where I have been. I've been keeping this blog for almost a year and half and hopefully its value to my practice of reflection will increase as time passes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Educational Technology Talk Show

Want to hear some interesting banter on Educational Technology? EdTechTalk is a blog that hosts a series of archived MP3 files of interesting EdTech discussions. You can even participate live in future events! Very cool! I enjoyed listening to a couple of these discussions in the background while I'm doing something else on the computer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Incorrect information in the field!

Some of you might already know about the existence of some incorrect information in the field of education, educational technology and instructional design.

Have you ever seen a statement similar to "Students remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they hear and see, 70% of what the say and write and 90% of what they do"? It is most commonly associated with Dale's Cone of Experience (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4, Example 5, Example 6, Example 7, Example 8, Example 9 and Example 10) but did you know it's a completely unfounded statement? Dale's Cone of Experience is legitimate but the associated statement with percentages is not the result of any study published in any refereed journal in the field. So it's essentially bogus!

This article from the Work Learning Research group does a great job at summarizing this particular tidbit of incorrect information. It's a real lesson learned for educators like us; go to the primary sources and make sure what you're quoting is in fact true!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Technological Changes in E-Education in the Last Two Years

From an E-Education perspective, the last two years have yielded significant technological change on three major fronts: hardware, software and network connectivity. Distance educators and administrators should take note of these changes and trends when planning new programme and course development activities in order to continue to compete successfully in this fast-changing field.

First, on the hardware front the most important technological changes relating to e-education have been the proliferations of both Flash memory drives and Apple iPods. Large capacity Flash memory drives have now become very inexpensive and most college students find themselves using this hardware to transport files easily from on location to another; thereby increasing the portability of their work (Lightbody, 2005). A high degree of portability and the ability to access their distance education anywhere at anytime have now become the expectations of the distance learner. Like Flash memory drives, Apple iPods are now becoming more and more popular. An educational spin-off of the iPod is the concept of podcasting. Where anyone can record themselves using audio files and publish their sound files to the Internet for people to download and play either on their iPod or on there computer. From a distance education perspective, podcasting allows for instructors and students to share audio, including lectures, much easier than in the past (Read, 2005). Also, some visionaries are now regularly publishing podcasts as a way to share, explore and build knowledge in the field of e-learning (For an example, see Susan Smith-Nash’s e-Learning Queen blog).

Second, on the software front the most important technological changes relating to e-education have been the proliferation of web-logs (a.k.a. blogs) as well as the rise of free beta versions of new Google services. Weblogs have exploded in popularity in the last two years. The Internet now contains thousands of blogs and a significant amount of them belong to the education category or have educational applications. They have been used in an educational setting to provide a way of sharing student work, of chronicling experiences, of journaling thoughts and feelings, and of disseminating knowledge (Dyrli, 2005; Krause, 2005; Richardson, 2005). Educators are also using blogs to communicate and share with their colleagues. So called Edubloggers form an active collection of writers on the Internet and share their practical knowledge of technology in education. In the last two years, Google has begun to transform itself into a formidable service provider that will benefit e-education initiatives. With the creation of free beta versions of its Google Scholar portal (a service which allows users to search some peer-reviewed material; I've writen about it before here), Google Booksearch portal (a service which allows users to search full text of public domain books) and most recently its Google Base service (a service which allows users to add any kind of content to the Google database), it has become increasingly useful to e-educators and students alike (Young, 2005). From a distance students can now use these Google resources to supplement their institutions library services and they can also publish new content to Google for their classmates to use.

Third, as wireless technology becomes faster and cheaper most laptop manufacturers are now including wireless cards in the standard configuration of their products and students are taking advantage of this technology to learn (Carlson, 2005; Gossey, 2005). The result is that more distance education students have laptops which they can connect to wireless networks to increase portability of their work space. Students can now connect their laptop to the Internet at various points throughout their homes as well as other semi-public places such as some workplaces, libraries and even laundromats! The increased portability will facilitate Internet access for students and will continue to help them learn anywhere at any time.

The ramification of these advances in the last two years is important to consider. As hardware, software and network technologies continue to bring new levels of portability, functionality and resource access to students at a distance, the popularity of web-enabled distance education programmes will continue to grow. Designers who design their courses to leverage new tools, services and Internet functionalities in order to better connect students with resources and with each other at a distance will be the e-education leaders. This interconnectedness is the value in distance education today; student-to-student interaction, information accessibility and content sharing are now the expectation of students at a distance. Forward thinking educators will continue to provide students with new e-education models that take advantage of the positive aspects in the fast-changing technological landscape in order to maintain and grow their market share. A century old quotation from Will Rogers still remains pertinent today: “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Do you think there have been other major changes in E-Education technology in the last two years that I've missed? If so, please leave a comment with your ideas.


Carlson, S. (2005). Colleges Increase Use of Technology in Teaching, Survey Finds. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(9), 42-42.

Dyrli, O.E. (2005). School blogs. District Administration, 41(10), 69-69.

Gossey, D. (2005). Wireless for All of Us. Edutech Report, 21(10), 4-5.

Krause, S.D. (2005). Blogs as a tool for teaching. Chronicle of Higher Education, 51(42), 33-35.

Lightbody, K. (2005). USB flash drives: Easy data transfer in education. Retrieved 02 December 2, 2005, from

Read, B. (2005). Lectures on the go. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(10), 39-42.

Richardson, W. (2005). Blog revolution. Technology & Learning, 26(3), 48-48.

Young, J.R. (2005). 100 Colleges Sign Up With Google to Speed Access to Library Resources. Chronicle of Higher Education, 51(37), 30-30.