RED INK - The Role of Communication in Rethinking Education in the Knowledge Society
This research addresses one key question in order to better undestand the so-called knowledge society, that is: is it true that digital natives think in a different/new way because of ICTs have permeated their everydaylife? By this time, in literature it´s possible to find eminent voices claiming that "digital natives" (Prensky, 2001), aka "generation Y" (Howe & Strauss 1991) and "new millennium learners" (Pedrò, 2006) not only think in a different way, but also learn differently, if compaired with their older collegues, as at university, as at work. If, in a macro-social perspective, this generational divide is a manifest evidence (e.g.: using a search engine like learning tool, a practice impossible to imagine just 15 years ago), to understand it from an anthropological-pedagogical point of view is a quite-unexplored research path. In order to understand how this cultural dynamics impacted on e-elarning issues (particularly, observing the dropout phenomenon) a new research path has been created, named "e-ethnography". The main point is to observe the individual learners´ attitudes matching with the learning culture in wich they are situated, considering the knowledge society cultural background. The methodological framework is built to compaire quantitave data (a questionnaire; to describe statistically the population observed) with quite-ethnographic methods (namely semi-structured interviews, focus groups and projective activities, like LEGO sessions, playing role cards, etc). A really important distinction has to be made between the use and the appropriation of new ICTs, according with European Community (Rivoltella, 2006). The study is carried on observing in parallel universities and workplaces. The first step has took place in Ticino with the two sub-projects: - "learners´ voices @ USI": an online questionnaire given to students has been combined with semistructured interviews; the main goal was to understand how ICTs impact the learning experience of students, considering that they have a lot of tecnological and pedagogical possibilities and if the e-learning provided by our university is exploited and how. - "Gen Y @ work": selected industries of eterprises network have been involved to observe how people born after 1980 use ICTs at work and if and how their "technological potential" (due to the condition of being digital natives) impacts the way in which they learn, so the way in which they work. They answered an online survey (built to know the balance between ICTs at work and in private life), then they partecipated to a LEGO session conceived ad hoc to make them esplicitate their selfperception of ICT users.