Age Issues in Online Teaching

Age Issues in Online Teaching

Lesley S. J. Farmer (California State University Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-791-3.ch011
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Age impacts online instructional design and delivery in two ways: developmental/biological and social/cultural. Developmental and generational issues are detailed as they impact e-learning. Attitudes towards technology and its social use are explained in light of age. Because the online community reflects lifelong learning, it behooves online educators to factor in age when developing and delivering online instruction.
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Child Development And Online Teaching

Learning changes with physical development, even at the pre-natal stage as billions of neurons are formed and connected (Sousa, 2001). That interconnectivity activity continues unabated until puberty when the brain determines which connections should be permanent. Other windows of learning opportunity also occur in childhood. For instance, children’s ability to learn motor skills peaks at age six. The window for developing emotional control is the first two and a half years. The window for language acquisition closely largely by age eleven.

The question is not if children should learn with technology; today’s students are technology natives (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999). As far back as 1994 it was determined that the average age that children started using computers was between 18 and 24 months old (Casey, 1997). By the time a child is seven, their learning style is pretty much set, so even kindergartners should have learning experiences using technology in order to feel more self-confident about using digital skills. Since individuals with abstract sequential learning style preferences, which style is more often exhibited by males, tend to like computers more than individuals with other learning style preferences, early success with computers also can take advantage of the brain’s early malleability (Ames, 2003).

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