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Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants: age-related differences in the use of learning technology

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Doug Clow
14 June 2011

Presentation at CALRG conference 2011 by Anne Jelfs, John Richardson, Chetz Colwell.

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Anne presenting.

Digital natives (Prensky 2001), Net Generation (Tapscott 1998), Diigital Wisdom (Prensky 2009). Age-related differences (Jones et al 2010).  Do older students - at OU - have problems?

Also approached Age Concern about definition of age, they resisted.

Chris Jones (et al 2010) - are age-related differences.

Did a survey - electronic survey, with paper-based follow-up if not responded online . Random sample of 1000 students stratified by age; plus 2000 ages 60-69; plus 1000 ages 70 and over. Roughly equal men and women. Response rate 58% - 30.8% for age 21-29, 81.2% for > 70! (Roughly equal men and women). 60% responses were online; 40% paper. More online responses for older students than younger!

Access to technologies: older have desktops, younger have laptops. Mobile phones higher in younger age than older (74.4% in 20s to 52% in 70s+) - even stronger age pattern for USB memory stick, and games console.

Access to internet - >90% for all groups. Younger have increased tendency for access outside the home - public, internet cafe, home. Work access drops off around retirement age.

Usage of mobile phone (if owned) - >90% calls, but huge drop off in texts - nearly 100% in 20s to 50% >70s. Similar drop off by age with other features too.

Percentages of students who'd never carried out a particilar task. All increase the older you are - though Word processing 5% even for >70s.

Open questions. Have thousands of open comments (weren't told it was about age-related differences). Many people mentioned their age in the open comments! 'At my age, I'm not so competent in technolgies'. Many positive about old age and online study. Flexibility, accessibility (e.g. very deaf).

When older students are given the choice between responding on paper or online, more likely to choose online.

Do older and younger students differ? Are some difference related to access to new technologies. They have different approaches, but are keen to learn. No evidence of different attitudes to technology. Number of older students said needed more time to study and get to grips with new technology - so in OU context need to allow space for developing these skills.

Ongoing process of analysing the open comments.

Simon Cross: Fascinated by open comments, frequently mentioning their age. Think represents common perception that age should be a barrier? Or used as an excuse?  Matter of pride for some people to go against the grain, perhaps.

Anne: Do have age groups and quotes, can match them up but haven't done.

Denise: As a lady, one doesn't reveal one's age ... until one's 85. Is a cultural thing.

Anne: Yes. Is stereotype that 80, not used to Internet.

Simon Cross: Danger in looking for difference that one compounds the stereotype

Jon: The oldest digital natives must be pushing 30, but any difference in the data was around 60. The data says no such thing as digital native/immigrant

Adrian: Much more access, but what do they use it for, that's where it starts falling apart. Simple access, get ticks. But are they doing more than social, much more contentious. Need to go beyond within the groups to explain the differences within the groups. Some of the tasks said things like 'wiki' - but big difference between reading and contributing, will find even more.

Anne: Whole survey not just about access: was access, approaches to study inventory, qualitative section, assistive technologies.

Adrian: Access is very common, other stuff more interesting.

Perry: Patterns seem to be to do with stage of life rather than when people were born, confirms suspicion that is due to when you happened to reach a stage. Can see emerging other markers - retirement (so no work access); around 80 - big difference between 85 and 65. 

Anne: Much data to unpack, this is early sweep. Approaches to study intersting too.

Doug/Anne: Digital residents and tourists (Doug Clow blog) - or visitors and residents (David White, Oxford/TALL). Also work in OU's Faculty of HSC on older people and technology, very interesting - they have connected.

Klaus: Participants didn't know this was about age, but when ask about technology, come up with age-related comments. Could be connected to how society looks at older people.

Simon Cross: One binary, and then another - net gen/not, immigrants/tourists - always one or other - but with Chris' work. With size of your dataset, can see is it two groups, or is it more complex than that. Because it's such a big study could do some really interesting stats and whether we should be treating as a binary at all.


Doug Clow
15:24 on 14 June 2011

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