Re: Generation Y doesn't like paternal delivery of user ed?

Subject: Re: Generation Y doesn't like paternal delivery of user ed?
From: Beth Agnew <beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: Techwr-L List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 16:22:45 -0400

We've already run smack-dab into that in Education. Paternal delivery
meant the all-knowing instructor as expert downloading information to
eager and attentive students who were poised to note every word with pen
and paper. In my classrooms today, students have their laptops open on
the desk and are multi-tasking -- taking notes, but also accessing their
handouts in Blackboard, and searching Google for background on the
current topic. (They are also on Facebook and MSN, but that's another
issue.) I'd better know my stuff because one might pipe up and ask,
"What about this opposing view by Jones on that subject?".

They expect to be involved in more group work, to receive instruction
through multiple delivery channels asynchronously, and to be allowed to
share information with each other. Students don't take you seriously
because you're the instructor, they take you seriously because you have
relevant information that is going to make their lives easier /now/. And
by the way, you'd better learn from them, too, because in a flat
educational structure, peer-to-peer, they have knowledge to share and
expect to do so.

Unfortunately, our Industrial Age institutions are not agile enough to
respond to these changes in expectations. We have new technology, but
it's installed into classrooms designed for paternal delivery. We still
give pen-and-paper tests, because we haven't figured out how to deal
with the potential for students to cheat if we deliver online tests.
(And increasingly, students don't think it's "cheating" to grab
information from the Web during a test!)

When I first started to learn about computers, lo, more than 30 years
ago, we used to say that computer knowledge was largely folklore, in
that one person shared their experiences with another. I think that was
just the harbinger of things to come. We're into an age of information
sharing, not information downloading. Technology transfer these days is
indeed peer-to-peer. Technical writers not only have to keep up, we have
to get out front and stay there.

Ned Bedinger wrote:
> I'm not sure what he's getting at when he contrasts peer-to peer with
> paternal delivery. Have we already hit on this principle in any of the
> technical communication threads here? What would be expected of us? Does
> paternal refer to something like those internal classroom trainings
> that some of us IT tech writers are often tasked with writing?
Beth Agnew, Professor
Co-ordinator, Technical Communication Program
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON


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Generation Y doesn't like paternal delivery of user ed?: From: Ned Bedinger

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