Tag Archives: post secondary education

Must Education Change for Digital Natives?

Students born roughly between 1980 and 1994 were saddled with the moniker “digital natives” by Marc Prensky.  There are other descriptions of this generation as collaborative, optimistic, multitaskers, team-oriented achievers and talented with technology.

The Digital Native Debate has two claims: Digital natives exist and education must change to meet their needs. This unique group, according to the proponents of the digital native theory are not getting their needs met by the current educational system. Prensky says, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”

Watch this You Tube promoted on Prensky’s You Tube Channel:

The second assumption is that digital natives “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors” Multi-tasking is given as an example. While students can listen to music, text, watch television and do homework is not a proof of higher intelligence. In fact, multi-tasking and multi-processing may result in concentration loss and overload according to Rubinstein as reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: “Executive control of cognitive processes in task switching.”

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God is in the details or is it the Devil? And Prose goes on and on

Sometimes when I read a book, I can’t figure out if it is the content of the book or the voice of the author that turns me off. The content in Francine Prose’s book is beneficial for the graduate writing student, but the author is annoying by the last chapter.

Details and Gestures

Prose discusses detail and gestures in great “detail.” The author of Reading like a Writer, demonstrates with expertise in literature how important these aspects in writing can be used to tell your story. Well-chosen words used sparingly can alert the reader to plot and character. On the other hand, words used wastefully will lose readers. Simple details and cliché-free gestures will move your story and keep your readers’ interest.

The Prose Problem

I am afraid if I had Francine Prose for a writing class, I would drop. Her arrogance is revealed by her “voice”. She exposes herself with those “big” words she uses. Her motivation is uncovered by the way she arranges her sentences. I don’t like her voice. Her attitude does not resonate. I just don’t like her. She embodies everything I loathe in English education – snobbery.

I may be wrong, I may have not read carefully enough. I certainly have not put a dent in her “Must Read Immediately” list. I am all about reading and encouraging writing students to read to write better, but we could use a better spokesperson.  I was encouraged that Chekov humbled Prose, but she could use a few more trips on that bus. And her description of the people in the bus station – arrogance and elitist dripped from every detail and gesture she used to describe her surroundings. Even the act of reading, People Magazine was a display of disdain. Prose is not in love with literature as much as she is in love with her own voice.

Prose has great advice for writers, but this writer has trouble getting the message from someone who thinks so little of her reader to lecture. How about a little respect Francine?

Writing careers and what I want to do when I grow up

The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed what I had suspected about the future of writing jobs Their report projects job growth from 2008 – 2018. Cross referencing the information about writing with Post-Secondary Education positions, the numbers support my suspicion that finding work as a writing instructor/professor in the next few years will be good. Work for freelancers is even more promising as companies outsource writing, editing, and graphic design. The factors influencing the increase in hiring include: demographic changes, digital media, and the growth of community colleges.
Demographic changes
Enrollment in postsecondary schools will rise with 18-24-year-old entering college between  2008 and 2018. In addition, adults are returning to colleges and technical institutions as a result of the failing economy. Therefore, Postsecondary teaching positions are “expected to grow by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations.”
Growth is due to enrollment of traditional and nontraditional students and retirement of tenured professors hired in the “late 1960s and 1970s to teach members of the baby-boom generation.” Competition for tenured track positions will be stiff, but more community colleges and smaller institutions are hiring adjunct and part-time instructors. An English major with a Ph.D. will have better prospects of landing a full-time professorship.
Digital Media
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring the demand for writers and editors with Web or multimedia experience.” Writers and writing instructors who can adapt and grow with the new media will have the required skill sets for the future in academics and as freelance writers, designers and marketers.
Recently, while researching for a column, I came across the following statistics:
It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users; television reached the same number in 13 years. The internet reached 50 million users in 4 years – Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months. Social media is not a fad; it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook daily.
Digital communications are here to stay. Generation Y (born 1976-2000) is not sitting in front of television but in front of computers. My twenty year old is more comfortable communicating on chat or texting in the next room than talking to me in person. Instead of fighting this new normal, helping this generation write better is the challenge. We are writing more because of the internet and social media, we need to write better. Current and later generations need to communicate effectively online; I want raise the level of online writing excellence
Community College Growth
With a weak economy and the rising cost of higher education, community colleges and technical institutions have grown in the last few years. A graduate of a Masters of Arts in Professional Writing will be able to gain experience as an adjunct instructor at these institutions. These smaller institutions do not want to hire Ph.D.s and the cost associated with that level of education. Many smaller colleges are even offering tenured-track positions to master’s level graduates.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed what I had suspected about the prospects for writing jobs from now until 2018. Cross-referencing the information about writing with Post-Secondary Education positions in English, the numbers support my suspicions that finding work as a writing instructor/professor in the next few years will be good. Work for freelancers is even more promising. The factors influencing the increase in hiring include: demographic changes, digital media, and the growth of community colleges. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos066.htm

When I grow up
When I am through with my graduate and maybe a Ph.D. program, I would like to work with college student to help them to write better online. I want to stay current with all the latest digital media and trends and merge them into my syllabus. I would like to help traditional and nontraditional students to acquire digital writing skills that will prepare them for a changing job market.