Literacies and new media

New media skills.

What skills do we need in today's media culture? Researchers from the Project New Media Literacies (MIT) give their opinion.

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Craftsmen needed!?

In the eyes of Richard Sennett, professor at the London school of Economics, our society has become rather superficial. Since the eighties of the past century, management has been seen as a neutral and universal proces. It is not necessary to know what products a manager is selling. Management is like an entity in itself.

Those who like the construction of the products they make, the real craftsmen, were disappearing gradually. These craftsmen were, in the eyes of the management, not flexible enough. A craftsmen is not driven by financial stimuli, but by the motivation to make a product as good as possible.

New, young, dynamic, flexible are the buzzwords of that managerial culture. A craftsman is a problem in this thinking, having questions about the need to change and the real quality of the product. Questions regarding the underlying philosophy are not popular to a manager from the eighties. That takes too much time and besides the philosophy of the manager as entity is merely directed by fast money making or enlarging influence and feelings of importance.

Schools, hospitals and other public institutions were also put in the hands of these managers. Having the power, during the boom in the eighties and nineties, the managers found themselves capable to talk about everything: social, moral and political questions. Driven by money making and enjoying their power they reformed society to that model.

Being rich and having influence was associated by the managers with having competences. The international crisis now reveils some painful facts: you can be very succesful economically, having influences and networks and at the same time being very incompetent.

Sennett's opinion has great possible consequences for a lot of schools. They should pay attention to the primary process: learning, by didactical and mathetical means. Only craftsmen are able to hand this over to the new generation. And seeing a hospital, school or other public institution as a place to make money is one of the largest mistakes of the last decades for Sennett. Managers should be replaced by leaders, knowing the primary process and being craftsmen themselves.

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Waldorf schools and mathetic learning.

In a recent doctoral thesis students from secondary schools following Waldorf education in the Netherlands, have a significant disadvantage on mathematics compared to accounting students in mainstream education. A lower score is also visible for language education in the third class of secondary schools. In general the scores at the cognitive domain are lower than mainstream educated children.

However, their attitude towards learning as such is significantly more positive in the third class. In a mainstream school the motivation to learn is getting lower between the first and the third class.It is not clear wether Waldorf children over estimate themselves or have a realistic concept of their capacities.
Children at risk do no make enough progress in Waldorf schools. The system tends to continue differences, instead of diminishing them.

Data were collected during three years in thirteen Dutch secondary Waldorf schools.
Waldorf education is strongly classroom oriented and does not emphasize on differentiation and individual development of children, according to recent theories. Children in at risk situations tend to stay behind, instead of improving their results.

For those seeking good models of mathetical learning, Waldorf schools seem to be not a good choice.



Net generation disappearing?

In a recent research the Canadian British Columbia Institute of Technology surveyed a random sample of over 400 students to determine wether these students exhibited the characteristics that have been attributed to this generation by people like Don Taspscott, Marc Prensky, and Neil Howe & William Strauss, and others. Schulmeister opponed already against the lack of empirical evidence for the existence of such a generation.

The research shows that on the characteristics there are hardly significant differences.

The research suggests that generational differences are not the issue. Contextual issues such as the nature of the program are more important considerations when making decisions about the integration of learning technologies.

More research after the cultural contextual aspects, age and other variables will be necessary to generalize these claims.

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