Deeper Learning for Digital Natives
“Digital Natives” is a term made popular by Marc Prensky in 2001 which refers to the “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet (Prensky, 2001, p. 1). They are different to “Digital Immigrants” who need to adapt to their new environment and retain, to some extent, their past. Most of learners nowadays can be considered as the native speakers of technology. However, even though they are quite familiar with it, problems may arise on the issue of effective use of the information obtained from the Internet. Nowadays, it is quite easy to search information by using search engines. Within seconds, zillions of information would appear ready to use. Indeed, the Internet can be very helpful, but it also can be overwhelming as it may create disorientation to the learners (Bradshaw, et al., 2002; Rhynard, 2002). It may, therefore, lead to the easy way; ‘copy-paste.’ The consequence is clear, learners would not engage with the information effectively and it results in a superficial understanding of the issue being discussed. This is called as having lacks of deeper learning skills.
Teaching Deeper Learning to Digital Natives
Deeper learning is defined as the process where a person is able to understand the issue being discussed and is able to take what was learned in one situation and to apply it to new situations (National Research Council, 2012). Indicated by possession of generic skills, such as higher order thinking, problem solving, leadership, and communication skills (Hardiyanto, 2010), learning should be characterized by a dynamic engagement in the teaching learning process (Biggs, 1987). In the 21st century, this deeper learning is very important as it would help achieving the aim of education, that is to make student learning possible (Ramsden, 2003). When learning happens, as Rogers (1969) emphasized, its process should bring a change in the learners’ conceptual understanding of phenomena and it should also change the way they understand the world around them. This change, however, does not always happen in the teaching learning process. Especially for Asian learners, a report stated that its learners learn in a superficial fashion (Watkins, 1996), that is by rote-memorization learning. Indonesia, as one of the Asian countries, also suffers from this passive learning, having a lack of autonomy and thinking skills (Egege & Kutieleh, 2004). Also, being strongly bound by the cultural values, learners tend to highly respect teachers’ authority (Rohaniawati, 2011). Thus, it makes them reluctant to oppose the teachers’ knowledge.
This situation clearly shows that being the “native speakers” of this digital era does not bring effective benefits to reaching the aim of education. Even though learners are mostly digital natives, they are still reported to reproduce the information. Therefore, effective use of technology combined with cultivating higher cognitive processes, i.e. proposing real life problems to train deeper learning is important. To accommodate these, an active student-centered learning, such as Inquiry-based learning (IBL) could be utilized. It is a cyclical student-centered learning which emphasizes on learners’ dynamic interaction to obtain rich information (Deutsch, 2005) and to solve them (McKenzie, 1998). Rather than asking “what”, the question should begin with “why” and “how.” These would foster the learners to use their own voice in their analysis of the information, no matter how easy they find the information. By this, the opportunity to learn is given to the learners themselves, not the teacher. The teacher is only to assist the learning process.
Furthermore, to enhance learning, a blended learning can also be integrated into the classrooms. This would provide a great interest to these digital natives. To avoid ‘copy-paste’ as an indication of academic dishonesty, a clear rule should be set up at the beginning of the activities. Various plagiarism detectors, such as “Turnitin” (paid), or “Plagiarisma” and “Viper” (free) could also be used to assist effective learning. Hopefully, this would help to shift the learners into a deeper learning.
Learning in this digital era has been always complex. Tons of rich information appear every day and ability to analyze information is compulsory. By providing opportunities for the learners to be more active, hopefully, they could be more responsible in their own learning. The effective use of technology should also be utilized as media to improve learning.
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Made Hery Santosa
Dosen Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha, Singaraja, Bali. Ia pernah mengajar bahasa Indonesia di La Trobe University, Australia dan saat ini sedang menempuh PhD di La Trobe University, Australia.