Digital Natives: 4 Ways Technology Has Changed ‘the’ Student

Written by Chanel M. Sutherland.

Today’s students, known as digital natives or net-generation, are radically different from those of the past. Born into an era of instant connectivity and networking they explore the world in an entirely new way. As a result, digital natives have different expectations for education that centers on their relationship with technology. For higher education institutions the digital demand is real. In order to stay relevant, colleges and universities must adapt their systems to meet the unique and evolving needs of this new breed of learners. Below we look at four fundamental ways digital technology has changed ‘the’ student.

  1. They want instant feedback:

    This generation of students grew up with technologies (e-mail, the internet, cellphones, and Facebook™) that allow them to connect with the world instantly. Naturally, they expect the same instantaneity when it comes to their education. New classroom technology like Bluepulse fits with this generation of learners because it allows them to communicate with their instructors in real-time from the first day of class.

  2. They interact differently:

    Social media has revolutionized how we communicate. While learners of the past valued face-to-face meetings, today’s students prefer to connect via email and text messages. They can get the same information and value from a digital meeting that the previous generation got from an office meeting.

  3. They want to have a say in their education:

    Technology has put digital learners in command of their lives. Therefore, they also expect to have a voice in their learning process. Students today want their education to prepare them for the future and believe that a learner-centered approach should be used to determine learning objectives. Online course evaluations allow decision-makers to collect feedback from students in a way that makes sense to them. These can provide valuable information about course components and their effect on learning.

  4. They prefer an interdisciplinary approach:

    Gone are the days when topics were organized into subjects and subjects into departments. The twenty-first century learner is eager for information and want to learn beyond traditional subject boundaries. They see the world as one big network of connections and expect their education to reflect that. Digital learners are more likely to pursue multiple degrees, an interfiled, or take additional classes once a diploma has been obtained.

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