Education for a digital generation


Image: ‘Franci plays maze‘ by Nico Cavallotto

Demos, the UK thinktank ‘for everyday democracy‘, released Their Space: Education for a digital generation, written by Hannah Green and Celia Hannon on January the 11th, and available as a free CC licensed download. For the edtechs amongst you it offers a good overview to the national policy level approach the UK is increasingly adopting. For the non-digital, it provides an introduction of some the key ideas currently informing calls for educational reform.   

The increasing recognition and consensus that digital literacy is something that needs to be mainstreamed is obviously a welcome one. The authors take a practical, moral-panic defusing approach to the reality of new technologies and practices, focusing on participation and economic arguments.

The brief glossary  features more commercial services (ie Facebook) than it does tools (eg blogs) and some of the entries are debatable.

Chapter two, Myths and misconceptions, is handy, and rehearses a few discussions that will be familiar to people working in education and trying to promote a positive view of young peoples use of technology.

Chapter 5, The world has changed so why haven’t we? is a bit of a mish-mash. It aims to "lay out a set of opportunities and challenges for the government and for school leaders and their staff", most of which are familiar and aren’t particularly well resolved here – informed leadership, better staff development, a more relevant and integrated approach to ICT as a subject, access for disadvantaged learners, parental involvement, a re-evaluation of the assessment system, greater learner involvement (dynamic (or deep) personalisation, as I’ve characterised it).

Personal Learning Environments get a mention in the guise of the ‘Creative Portfolio’. A little weirdly, the authors final two "opportunities and challenges" are classroom wikis and I’ve got nothing against either tool or site, and I know that loads of educational professionals have found effective uses for wikis, other collaborative tools, and social bookmarking sites. It seems incongruous to be promoting particular services at policy level in the context of a document which has clearly articulates the fast moving state of play. 

2 thoughts on “Education for a digital generation

  1. I have come back to this post because I wanted to reread the Demos report but I am so glad that I also followed the link to your AOC-NILTA position paper. I am begiining to understand better what you mean by dynamic personalisation. I am currently writing a paper on Theorising Web 2.0. We really need to get our ideas sorted out so can understand what is happening and shape it too.

  2. Thanks for this Frances. I am really proud of the Personalisation in Electronic Environments paper approach ( – I wanted to explore personalisation in concrete terms, and I think that it’s a model that can be applied to test a range of online activities, websites and services. The QIA are supposed to be persuing it so hopefully it will become better known.

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