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THE COMPLEXITY OF THE “DIGITAL NATIVENESS”: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY

S. Koukoufiki, V. Dagdilelis

University of Macedonia (GREECE)
Over the past 15 or so years a new generation of students has emerged in Higher Education. Various terms have been used to describe this generation of students, giving them specific characteristics. Amongst them, the most frequently used are “Digital Natives” (Prensky, 2001), “Net Generation” (Tapscott, 1998) and “Millennials” (Howe & Strauss, 2000).

Much has been said about this generation of students attending universities today. Having grown up in a world surrounded by new technologies, these students have become accustomed to them. The students have learnt to receive and process the information differently. Furthermore, they have developed different expectations of learning than previous generations due to the new technologies (Prensky, 2001; Tapscott, 1998; Howe & Strauss, 2000). As a result of these characteristics, and many others, Prensky (2001) believes that the education system no longer meets the needs of today's students since it is not designed for them.

However, in recent years there is a question by some researchers as to whether such findings concerning the characteristics of this new generation of students are valid. Bullen, Morgan & Qayyum (2011) point out that «the idea that the generation born after 1982 is fundamentally different than previous generations has become so firmly entrenched that it is treated as a self-evident truth» (p. 2). For this reason, specific characteristics attributed to the entire student population should be done with caution (Kennedy, Dalgarno, Gray, Judd, Waycott et al., 2007), as there is « a clear mismatch between the confidence with which claims are made and the evidence for such claims» (Bennett, Maton & Kervin, 2008, p. 782).

This study is an attempt to empirically approach the relationship of Greek students with new technologies. Specifically, the research aims to investigate tertiary education students’ a) access and frequency of use of specific technologies, b) skills concerning specific technologies, and c) perceptions about the use of technology in educational processes. The results of our research seem to indicate a significant gap between what students are supposed to be able to do and what they really can do in terms of the use of new technologies in general, and particularly in an educational framework. Discrepancies were also found in the responses of the students on the educational use of technology by academic staff. In our presentation, the most important findings of our study will be discussed.