Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rush hour generation

Today I did a presentation together with my colleague Job Bilsen entitled 'e-Learning sustainable?' The presentation was held at the 'Nationaal Opleidingscongres' in Breukelen (NL). We were quite satisfied to have a relatively large audience and I think we managed to have a very lively session. Overall, it was an interesting day, chaired by prof. Robert Jan Simons from the University of Utrecht. One concept which stayed clearly in my mind and which is one of the drivers to write this post right now is the concept of the 'rush hour generation', introduced by Wil Loermans from SNS Reaal. He indicated that the rush hour generation is represented by those who combine a (part-time) job, finding a girl- or boyfriend, having children, going away on far vacations and a lot more activities in as less time as possible. Another buzzword, a variation to Netgeneration, Generation Y? I am not sure, because he did not elaborate on it, but to me a new label was born.

Subsequently, we had an inspiring session with Manon Ruijters from Twyntstra Gudde who succeeded (in my opinion) to have a talk in a very relaxed, informal way. A major part of the time she focused on learning preferences. To illustrate this, she reported from a survey-scan she did among the audience (which was sent out a few weeks before the conference). She defined five types of learner preferences:

  • Looking at the art
  • Participation
  • Knowledge acquisition
  • Exercising
  • Discovery

It appeared that 'Looking at the art' and 'Discovery' were the dominant preferences in the audience. Looking at the art as in 'what works?', learning in real life, how do others do it and can I benefit from it? Discovery as in curiosity, coincidental learning, creativity and selfregulation.

The reason for picking out these two presentations is that they both did an attempt to label a group of learners. The more I hear those kind of labelling, the more I feel resistance, because it tries to put groups of people in a specific category, as if it were a robust part of you as a person. I think the discussion that was going on during the presentation of Manon Ruijters clearly indicates what I mean. Some people had high scores on both 'looking at art' and 'discovery', so what does that make them? There may be some kind of situational preference, that depending on the context you can have a different learning preference.

At the end of the day I attended an interesing session by Nicolet Theunissen from TNO. Among a lot of other interesting things she said, one that is interesting to mention here is that selfregulated learning is evaluated with rather extreme scores. Either the learners like it very much, or they get to some sort of 'learner crisis', they hate it or even become angry because there is too little coaching. For educators the concept of selfregulated learning is sometimes frightening, because it gives them a sense of losing control.

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