I’m speaking in Oslo today, at the Fleksibel lÊring (flexible learning) conference at the University of Oslo. Here’s the slideshow I’ll be using. It’s in Norwegian, sorry to all you non-weegies – you might be able to follow it anyway, though.

My main point is that despite today’s students having grown up with technology, and despite their using the net extensively, they still lack very basic skills for using the net in learning at a university level – and the ways teens use the internet differently from older users (e.g. games, IM, social networking) can almost hide the fact that many of them lack skills seen as basic in what we oldies call digital literacy – such as being able to find relevant information, evaluate it, synthesize it and present it. Of course it’s also possible that they’ll simply redefine “digital literacy” so it means something else once they’re adults, but I somehow doubt it. I think actually the idea of “digital natives” is dangerous – it lets us as teachers and parents off the hook.

I absolutely love the babies on the first slide. I found them at a stock photo site, and they only cost me a dollar to download and use as much as I like with only a few reservations (I can’t make a company logo using them, or sell them to you, for instance). Actually I didn’t even pay the dollar because when you sign up you get five free credits. It’s the first time I’ve bought stock photos for presentations – usually I use creative common licenced photos (there are a few of them in the presentation too) or my own photos or I ask the photographer for permission. I love finding photos I can use as a sort of framework for building my slideshow around – my mind works well that way. And those babies are so cute.

The other improvement I’ve made to my slidemaking is using cross-platform fonts. I’ve been so fond of mac-only fonts that my slideshows look bad on Windows – or on slideshare.net. This time I found the list of fonts that both macs and Windows know about and stuck to it – and lo and behold, the result looks far better.

17 thoughts on “my talk for flexible learning in oslo today: are today’s students digital natives?

  1. Oyvind

    I don’t understand your point about Mac and Windows fonts? When I upload my presentations on Slideshare, I export a pdf file where all the fonts look exactly how they should be. Also on slideshare.

    See http://www.slideshare.net/oyvind

    All my slides are made in Keynote, with fonts most user (even on Macs) normally don’t have.

    If I need to give away my presentations, I also give people the pdf. Keynote has an option to include notes with slides in the pdf-export dialog box, if you want to do that.

  2. CYF


  3. Brynjulv Norheimp UIO

    Thanks for a great talk about young people and digital competence. I think your point about seeing a connection between activities on the web and learning was very well put. There is a new concept of knowledge emerging – a topic George Siemens (knowingknowledge) has written much about. But it is about identifying and determining the difference between informal learning areas and formal learning settings. There must be a connection and I think it lies in how one views knowledge.
    I am sorry about my spelling, but on my computer using IE70 a lot of your blog and alsom my contribution ends under other elements on the page. Thanks again, Brynjulv

  4. tonita

    Takk for tankevekkende presentasjon p dagens konferanse – og herlig tidslinje. Fordi jeg har barnebarn som virkelig er natives, f¯ler jeg dette ekstra sterkt.
    Jeg er spesielt opptatt av det enorme gapet det er mellom mange av oss gamlinger i akademia og de nye studentene vi m¯ter hvert semester.
    Jeg m fors¯ke  stoppe meg selv nÂr jeg for meg selv kaller disse helt ferske studentene for utrolig enkle, naive, dumme etc etc – stoppe det, selv innvendig for meg selv – for hver gang jeg tgenker det pÂvirker det meg. Og jeg m fors¯ke  f kolleger med p  ta for dem utradisjonelle verkt¯y i bruk.
    Vi bare m m¯tes! Vi mÂ.

  5. tonita

    Oops, – sorry. Just did not think, – since I had listened to your presentation given in Norwegian at the conference today, I just did not look around enough to realize that this is an English speaking blog, first time visit. Sorry.

    Well: Great presentation. Lovely imaging of our students along the line of time. Your are right, we should really try to meet young students where they are reachable. But, – we should try not to confuse their issues.

    So: blogs – yes, wikis – yes, – MySpace – keep out, FaceBook – absolutely not! At least not for valid communications.

  6. Mathias Klang

    A very cool presentation. I am talking about copyright in universities tomorrow and I will include some of your stuff about our new students. Mainly to show our “old faculty” what we are facing in attempting to connect with the generation.

    Also I agree with your point that even though the new students are incredibly connected they really lack basic skills in evaluating information.

    Great presentation – hope it goes well & thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Jill Walker Rettberg

    Thanks for some great feedback – and for a really interesting discussion after the presentation yesterday.

    ÿyvind, I made the slides in Powerpoint and uploaded the Powerpoint file. I assume when you convert from Keynote to PDF the fonts are rasterized, so work fine on Slideshare. I need to start using cross-platform fonts, though, because I want to be able to opt to use a windows computer instead of my mac when I present. Sometimes it’s just more practical to use hte computer that’s already there. And yesterday it was such luxury travelling light – I didn’t even bring my laptop to Oslo. Very unusual but rather satisfying.

    Mathias, I’m glad you can use some of this 🙂 And Brynjulf and Tonita, thanks, and yes!

  8. Hilde Galtung

    Hei Jill,

    Engasjerende foredrag i Oslo!!! Og gratulerer med baby i magen!!! S hyggelig. Min eldste datter er 9, yngste datter 4. Og jeg har lyst p et barn til. Men n f¯ler jeg nesten det er for sent. Den eldste er jo s “gammel”… Men du inspirerer. Og s har du ogs inspirert meg til  lage en blogg til neste undervisningsserie jeg har. Men jeg er helt totalt fersk, og vet ikke engang hvilken Weblog jeg skal velge. Vil veldig gjerne ha et diskusjonsforum for studentene der de kan stille alle “dumme” sp¯rsmÂl til meg og til klassen de ikke t¯r  ta i plenum. Diskutere PBL-oppgavene. Og jeg vil legge ut slides fra forelesninger, video om hvordan de skal utf¯re labkurset de m gjennom, nyttige lenker, animasjoner, osv. Der jeg hele tiden kan f kommentarer fra studentene. Og jeg vil ha anledning til  moderere den hvis det skulle bli n¯dvendig. Tips??

    Hilsen Hilde.

  9. Oyvind

    True, Jill. Using standard fonts makes it a whole lot easier. If you want to travel light, and don’t have video, using an iPod is an option. Just store all slides as JPEGs and use the video output of the iPod to show the presentation.

  10. […] Er sp??rsm?•let Jill stiller i en presentasjon hun holdt p?• Fleksibel L?¶ring¬¥s konferanse i Oslo 11.nov. Jeg har g?•tt og tenkt de samme tankene om mine elever p?• VGS den siste tiden. Det er en slags gjengs oppfatning at elever har h??y digital kompetanse, men min erfaring er nettopp det Jill f?•r frem i denne presentasjonen: […]

  11. Albertine

    Veldig interessant presentasjon, Jill. Har tenkt p samme problem den siste tiden. Mine elever er langt fra  ha en digital kompetanse, eller til og med digitale ferdigheter slik det gjerne blir definert.

    Jeg merker jeg til og med kan vÊre ganske utÂlmodig, nettopp fordi jeg forventer at de skal vÊre p et annet nivÂ.

    Har gitt elevene karakter p  gi hverandre kommentarer p bloggposter. Det funker skjerpende.

    Grattis med kommende beibi! 🙂
    SÂ koslig!

  12. […] Albertine Aaberge teaches high school students digital media, and noted in a blog post yesterday that she’s had much the same experience with them as I described in my presentation in Oslo last Thursday: teens have a fair bit of experience with digital and social media, but they tend not to make the connection between that and their learning environments. They may have a form of “digital literacy” but it’s not the kind that is expected by teachers, universities, or, I would argue, their future employees. […]

  13. Ruth Page

    Thanks for as ever an interesting blog post. I totally agree that there is a discrepancy between much social use of the internet (e.g. facebook) and the way educators might want up and coming students to use digital resources. I’ve found a similar experience with my own undergraduates who use facebook, myspace, can text like mad, but inserting URLs, creating wikis, reading hypertext is new territory. I’m interested, though, in why you think the idea of ‘digital narratives’ is dangerous? For me, and what I try and bring out in my teaching, is the complex way that medium interfaces with all sorts of other factors when we make sense of texts. Why is identify a narrative as ‘digital’ dangerous?

  14. Ruth Page

    Oops sorry – saw that I just misread ‘natives’as ‘narratives’ how embarrassing is that! No, I totally get the point now. Digital natives my students are not, and blissfully unaware of the uncomfortable ways in which their facebook profiles might disclose information they’d really rather their tutors not see.

  15. F??dt som nettbruker? « Memoz

    […] F??dt som nettbruker? Posted on November 29, 2007 by memoz Jill Walker om “Fleksibel l?¶ring“, n?¶rmere bestemt blogg og wiki blant dagens studenter: | View | Upload your own […]

  16. jill/txt » digital multiculturals

    […] Henry Jenkins has a very useful blog post exploring the origins of the term “digital natives” and showing how its a term that’s increasingly problematic today. This ties in beautifully with the talk I gave in Oslo a couple of weeks ago, where I argued that “the idea of ìdigital nativesî is dangerous – it lets us as teachers and parents off the hook.” As a physical immigrant myself (my family moved to Norway from Australia when I was eight) I particularly appreciated Jenkins’ note on the jingoism implied in the term “digital immigrants”, where an immigrant is seen as always inferior, always going to be struggling with the language, the accent and the culture. In Norway the rhetoric is still largely about immigrants “integrating” successfully, but in the US and Australia, the “melting pot” metaphor has largely been supplanted (thankfully) by the “jambalaya” of multiculturalism, where diversity can be celebrated and seen to be to everyone’s advantage. Jenkins writes: Surely, we should recognize what digital immigrants bring with them from the old world which is still valuable in the new, rather than simply focus on their lacks and inadequacies. […]

  17. […] Via Espen Anderson, I found this report about a recent study that seems to confirm some of my arguments in the talk I gave a month or so ago at Fleksibel lÊring, where I argued that young university students are far less digitally literate than we assume: A new study overturns the common assumption that the ëGoogle Generation’ ñ youngsters born or brought up in the Internet age ñ is the most web-literate. The first ever virtual longitudinal study carried out by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, they rely heavily on search engines, view rather than read and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web. […]

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