Teaching and Learning in the Networked Society

Teaching and Learning in the Networked Society

Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6351-0.ch001
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This chapter presents and discusses some concepts that will contribute to a reflection on how to teach and how to learn in a Networked Digital Virtual Society. The authors present and discuss subtopics like Networked Society; Information and Knowledge; Teaching, Learning, and Development (What is information? What is learning? How do we learn? What is knowledge? How do we know? What is development? How does knowledge differ from learning and from information?); “Homo Zappiens” Generation (Who are they and how does the digital-native “Homo Zappiens” Generation learn? And how can we, teachers and professors from the analogical generation, become “digitally naturalized”?); and a brief conclusion, where the authors present some factors that can contribute to minimizing the “gap” between generations, bringing them together for the construction of a dialogical relationship in education.
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Researchers have been investigating social changes and transformations in order to analyze, understand and explain the society we are living in. This scenario has recently brought out various terms such as: “Information Society”, “Knowledge Society”, “Digital Society” and, “Network Society” among others. Nevertheless the way these designations have been used and understood shows a lack of common sense for it depends on the theoretical construction presented by different authors. When analyzing the terms “information” and “knowledge”, for instance, we see that they are attributed a variety of meanings. From our point of view, what best defines the society in which we are currently sharing and living in, would be a “Digital-Virtual Networked Society”. But what are the arguments to support this denomination?

Nowadays we are living and acting through different digital-virtual network technologies, meaning that we are living our lives through digital-virtual technologies in a variety of domains linked to work, study, leisure, business or relationships for example. In these different domains we build up networks or take part in virtual communities which connect us to other people. We have virtual friends, virtual work and virtual relationships. We buy, sell, study, research and play in a new context, both analogue and digital.

Nevertheless, more important than classifying or attributing a denomination to the type of society we are living in, is to understand the movements and processes it constitutes. In this context we are particularly interested in the movements and processes related to the following questions: What does teaching in a “Digital-Virtual Networked Society” mean? What has changed from the time we were children and adolescents? What implications does living in a growing digital-virtual-technological world bring to parents, teachers and to their own subjects? Why is it that we are observing more and more confused parents not knowing how to educate their children; more unmotivated teachers, with no desire or courage to enter a classroom and children, adolescents and teenagers stating they do not enjoy attending classes? What is this new subject and how do these new learners, these “digital natives”, learn? (Prensky, 2002), belonging to the “homo zappiens” generation? (Veen & Vrakking, 2009) How are the concepts of information, knowledge, teaching, learning and development understood nowadays? These issues represent part of the challenges that have presented themselves and what the current reality dictates within educational research, something we will discuss further in this chapter.

Living in a growing “technological” world, where different people live and coexist in a digital-virtual way and are connected by different networks, brings important consequences which represent huge challenges for the teaching and learning processes, both in formal and informal educational contexts. Educating in the current connected, digital networked society where people have easy and quick access to a wide range of information, and also communicate with anyone, anywhere and at any time is significantly different in comparison to the way we were educated; a society in which relationships and interactions were prevailingly established by analogical means; where searching for information could require one to physically go to the nearest library or bookstore to purchase a book, magazine or newspaper and where communication with physically distant people was done through correspondence or telephone. Digital technology has evolved in such a way that it shortens distances and approaches for people who now live in the instant. Society has changed and it is no longer possible for schools to keep following the industrial society model and inspired by the Fordist model. According to Moraes (2003), this new reality not only plays a part in ways of working in education but it also affects the ways in which a person is enabled to live in this society, in the world of work and within a continuous learning process. Traditional social practices, working relations and professional learning and development have also been rapidly modified.

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