Tuesday, 13 July 2010

ICEL 2010

ICEL 2010 is an international conference that is being held (for the first time) in Penang, Malaysia with attendees from 19 countries. What is clear is the extensive interest from developing countries in the use of mobile learning. I was very interested in the presentation by the second Key Note speaker, Laura Czerniewicz, from the Centre for Educational Technology (CET) University of Cape Town, South Africa who presented on The digital native in a new era- apartheid or democracy? Her presentation may be found HERE.

One of the things that was very interesting was the finding that the development of computer literacies is virtually the reverse of the western world: with the more impoverished students coming from mobile phones, often relatively low level technology (the so called vanilla mobile phone), to the desktop or notebook computers. The demographics and data also challenge the statements from the likes of Tapscott and Prenski, in particular. The South African data indicates that it is experience with computers rather than age per sec that is the determining factor in the concept of a digital native. She also introduced the term the 'digital elite', describing those people how have had extensive access to technology and have become very confident in the use of these technologies. There didn't seem to be a correlation with age, unlike the statements of the two authors mentioned above. 

I find that this mirrors my experiences in Hong Kong. Students from the mainland come to Hong Kong with very little experience in the use of computers, and the assumption that because of their age they should be computer experts. However, they are not, reinforcing the findings that the individuals described as 'digital natives' by Prenski are in fact extremely diverse, and in higher education we need to be cognizant of  this information and address these particular student needs.  

All in all, an interesting conference with a diversity of views from developed and developing countries. ICEL 2011 will be held in Kelowna, Canada. 

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