Not All NetGens are Digital Natives: Tailoring Media Education is a Must – ENF18

Fostering Academic Media Literacies of Students and Teachers by a Complementary Model

Christine Hoffmann, Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg, Germany


Nowadays scientific work cannot be done without skills in the use of new media. The faculty for Business and Social Sciences of the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg (HAW)) applied for two posts in media pedagogy within the framework of the “quality pact on teaching”. One position is meant to provide continuous education for teachers in the field of e-learning skills as a form of media didactics and technology. The other one is to promote the students’ “computer literacy”.
This approach makes it clear that the promotion of media literacy in university is seen as a double-sided process. very use of media means that both parties in learning, students and teachers, need support in order to be able to use media in academic work. Both newly appointed educators holding the aforementioned positions are seen as a third party in media-based learning scenarios.
This new situation helps to overcome difficulties that hitherto often lead to failure in media use (in learning) . Against all scientific findings most persons in universities hold on to the prejudice that younger persons as members of the “net generation” do not need support when they are using media while older persons in common have difficulties to manage with those. This overestimation of students’ capabilities hinders the realization of media-based learning arrangements, because the teachers are not aware that the students have not learned a certain media use as they underestimate themselves, believing they are always less competent than the students are. The project aims at an increase in professionalization by providing tailored complementary support for students and teachers.
In order to emphasize the importance of media literacies in nowadays science the project members will write a media curriculum. Students and teachers will be asked to participate. This participation takes place in various forms: formal and informal interviews as well as surveys will be and are already used. A first version of the curriculum has yet been created. Beside already specified needs it is based on the existing digital learning environments of the university and the discipline-based curricula. It will be developed further and has been implemented since the beginning step by step. All measures will be assessed regularly.
By now an instant support for both teachers and students has been launched. This has already changed the faculty’s use of e-learning tools.Since the start of the system the number of courses that use the university’s learning management system has already doubled. Nevertheless students’ interest in augmenting their own media skills seems to be strictly limited to pieces of coursework and to tests , which also assess those skills, or to projects with an explicit didactic use of media. The first conclusion is that the requirement to use media with an adequate concept is a criterion for success. The organization’s mandatory demands determine students’ interests in scientific work with media. This affirms the project’s approach to develop teachers’ didactics and students’ skills at the same time.



Christine Hoffmann

Christine Hoffmann M.A. is a research fellow for “Computer Literacy” at the faculty for Business and Social Sciences of the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg). Lastly she worked for the Department of Healthcare Management of the Technische Universität Berlin, where she designed and ran the blended-learning course HTAonline. Since her master in philosophy and continuous education in content- and knowledgemanagement she has been working in the e-learning and new media field.

All Youngsters Are Digital Natives, Aren't They?

Tore Ståhl, Arcada University of Applied Sciences, Finland, and University of Tampere, Finland


All youngsters are Digital Natives, aren’t they?

Millennials (Howe & Strauss, 2000) and Digital Natives (Prensky, 2001) are some of the concepts used for young people born after the mid 1980ies. Surely, most youngsters at least in the industrialized western world have grown up surrounded by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and they lack a personal history of the time before Internet, Google and mobile phones.

Both in everyday talk and in literature Millennials, Digital Natives and similar concepts are being used in a generalizing manner to include all young individuals born after the mid 1980ies, and all young people are assumed to be both competent and interested ICT users. Still, there is both anecdotal evidence that all young individuals do not see themselves as Digital Natives, and there are also observations suggesting that they do not have all the skills this generation is commonly assumed to possess.

Today’s students do need at least basic ICT skills and information literacy both for their studies and as citizens and employees in the information society. In order for all students to have equal opportunities to use ICT to support their studies, Arcada is applying the ICT Driving License developed at University of Helsinki (2009) across all degree programmes since 2009.

Data collected during the past years at Arcada show that about 15-18 % of the students in each age cohort lack basic ICT skills, and that this lack is more pronounced in some of the 14 degree programmes at Arcada.  The results are consistent with data collected at University of Helsinki (2009) but contradictory to the previously cited talk about an ICT competent generation.

Since a lack on ICT skills seems to exist among some students, the challenge is to identify and locate these students and to get a clearer picture of the reasons behind their lacking skills. Thus, the aim of this study, being part of a larger study, is twofold; first, to confirm the assumption that a lack on ICT skills exists.  The second aim is to explore some of the reasons behind ICT illiteracy. When considering possible reasons, having access to ICT resources is clearly a prerequisite for learning ICT. It has also been noted that developing a familiarity with the digital world requires not only access, but also enough time and autonomous access to ICT (see Robinson, 2009).

Gender and ICT has been extensively researched and numerous studies show that girls use ICT less than boys and for other purposes (Apiola, 2008). Still, there does not seem to be an understanding to the reasons behind these differences. The (stereotype) role models presented by teachers, parents and media have been suggested as one reason. Also the fact that much of the computer activities are dealing with topics that do not interest girls; not necessarily games per se, but what the games are about. Apiola refers to projects where girls have become interested in using ICT thanks to girl oriented environments that have been created. Another example is that when the Finnish blogosphere started to emerge, among the most active blog networks was one dealing with knitting (Majava, 2006, p. 46).

Another reason for not using ICT might be lack of interest or that the preferences of using computers and internet take very different directions. This might have some connection with how the individual perceives the world (see Hofer, 2000; Parpala, Lindblom-Ylänne, Komulainen, Litmanen, & Hirsto, 2010).

ICT Driving License

The ICT Driving License comprises a set of level tests, tailored tuition and an examination. At Arcada, new students accomplish the compulsory level tests immediately as they enter the university. The level tests correspond to the five content modules that cover very typical areas:

  1. Basic use of computers, files and programs, internet and e-mail.
  2. The computer environment at the University.
  3. Modifying and presenting data, covering word processing, spreadsheet calculation and slide shows.
  4. Information seeking in library catalogues and reference databases.
  5. Information security and privacy protection.

Depending on the level test results, students choose their individual study path for each module. The majority get along by using the learning material offered, and for those with weak skills classroom tuition is offered.

The level test scores were used as a main indicator and the scores from the 2011 cohort were analysed. Scores from module 2 were not included since at the time for the tests, new students were not expected to be familiar with the computer environment at the university.

Data collection

The compulsory ICT Level Test sessions are scheduled for all new student groups during the first week of the semester. During these sessions the students also completed two surveys regarding their ICT and media habits and perceived skills, and regarding their view on knowledge and learning. Data from these surveys were combined with the level test scores for further analysis.
In total, 460 students accomplished the level tests, and analysis was performed on the subsample of 395 domestic students. Since the study is mainly about ICT skills within the young generation, 16 cases aged 29 and above were excluded from further analysis, leaving 379 students. Within this final sample the overall age average was 20.84 (Stdev 1.88), with slightly younger female (20.41) than male (21.36) students, whereas the overall gender distribution was rather balanced with 206 female and 173 male students.


Level test statistics show that in all modules, the scores vary almost over the whole scale from 0 up to 10, as has been the case during previous years. The scores were used to calculate the score classes poor (<4), average (4-7) and good (>7). It turned out that 23 % of the students scored poor in module 1, 35.6 % in module 3, 17 % in module 4 and 9.4 % in module 5. For the interpretation it is worth noting that modules 1 and 3 contain a considerably larger scope than modules 4 and 5.

Thus, the assumption that ICT illiteracy still exists among young students was confirmed, at least regarding this population.

The second question was to explore possible explanations for this ICT illiteracy. Drawing on previous research, the students with poor skills should be the ones with poor or no access to a computer.  However, a cross-tabulation of computer access and the level test scores does not support such a connection. Rather, it seems that regardless of access level, the score classes show a normal distribution where most students have average skills. This result should, of course, be interpreted with some caution, since the number of students with limited, inconvenient or no access was low but nevertheless, the “poor” column with 41 cases shows a trend that is reverse to the expected.

Access to ICT was also explored by looking at the respondents’ history. The respondents had been using a computer during 11.7 years and the internet during 9.9 years in average. A comparison between gender and the hard/soft science groups showed merely significant mean differences of 1 or 1.4 years. Thus, it seems that neither computer or internet access nor computer or internet exposure time seems to explain the differences in ICT skills level.

As a next step, level test scores were compared across degree programmes since the experiences from previous years suggested a difference. Level test mean scores differed significantly and allowed a degree programme grouping that resembles the one often used to classify sciences (see e.g. Becher, 1994). The groups were named hard sciences, soft sciences and mixed sciences.
Next, between-gender differences in level test scores were analysed across degree programmes. Within nine out of twelve degree programmes there was no significant difference in the level test scores, although in five of these programmes the results are not reliable due to extremely uneven gender distribution in addition to very few cases of either gender. However, within four degree programmes there was no significant difference whatsoever, and within three degree programmes the difference occurred only in two or three modules.

Further, the between-gender differences in level test scores were analysed within degree programme groups. This analysis was impaired by uneven gender distribution within the soft (83/10) and hard (11/71) science groups, whereas the gender distribution within the mixed science group (112/92) corresponded to the overall gender distribution. Nevertheless, since all groups contained at least 10 cases the results cannot be ignored.

The results showed no significant between-gender score differences within the hard sciences group. Within the soft sciences group there were no significant score differences in modules 3-5, and module 1 showed only a weak significance. Within the mixed science group significant score differences occurred in modules 1, 3 and 5 but in module 3 the significance was weak.

To conclude so far, it seems that the differences may well be associated with choice of discipline, and not necessarily with gender alone.  Further results will be presented.


Apiola, M. (2008). Sukupuoli ja kiinnostus tietotekniikkaan. [Gender and Interest towards Information Technology] Kasvatus, 39(1), 72-77.
Becher, T. (1994). The significance of disciplinary differences. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 151-161.
Hofer, B. K. (2000). Dimensionality and disciplinary differences in personal epistemology. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(4), 378-405.
Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials rising: The next great generation Vintage.
Majava, J. (2006). Suomalaisten weblogien verkosto keskustelevana julkisuutena. [The Network of Finnish Weblogs as a Public Sphere] Master's Thesis, University of Helsinki, Department of Sociology.
Parpala, A., Lindblom-Ylänne, S., Komulainen, E., Litmanen, T., & Hirsto, L. (2010). Students’ approaches to learning and their experiences of the teaching-learning environment in different disciplines. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(2), 269-282.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.
Robinson, L. (2009). A taste for the necessary. Information, Communication & Society, 12(4), 488-507.
University of Helsinki. (2009). ICT driving license. Retrieved 10/13, 2012, from

Slide: tore_stahl_1354622527.pdf



Tore Ståhl

I am working as development manager in pedagogy at Arcada University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki. Arcada is one of two Swedish universities among Finland’s twenty-eight universities of applied sciences. At Arcada I have the strategic responsibility for developing the prerequisites for eLearning at Arcada including coordinating the development of an eLearning infrastructure.

I have a background in health care and health education and several years of experience from teaching ICT, ever since ICT was introduced within education. I have more than ten years of experience in promoting and developing eLearning both locally at Arcada and nationally within the Finnish Online University of Applied Sciences.

I hold a master’s degree in education and since 2010 I am a doctoral student at University of Tampere. My research topic is about epistemic beliefs among so called digital natives. The concept of epistemic beliefs is about how an individual views her own knowledge and learning. In my thesis work I will try to explore if and how the epistemic beliefs of digital natives differ from that of previous generations, which also includes defining digital natives. My presentation at Online Educa challenges the common (mis)conception of all youngsters as digital natives.

Growing Digital Media Literacy in Bolivia

Sylvia van den Berg, AYNI Bolivia Nederland, The Netherlands


This paper is about the systematization of the lessons learned by the Foundation Ayni Bolivia Nederland and NGO Ayni Bolivia on the development of educational content (Aprender Creando Project) and the stimulation process leading to self-sustainable telecenters in Bolivia (Programma Chaski).

The experiences of Ayni show that results obtained using tools to transform content and current practices in Education can not be achieved overnight. The challenge regards several barriers. Two main barriers have been identified: awareness and active engagement. Awareness can be surpassed by tackling the problem that stakeholders and community usually do not know or do not understand what the targets of the transformation are. Engagement has been stimulated by organizing yearly a National ICT Fair (since 2002). All schools participating in the Project Chaski and/or Project Aprender Creando show their achievements and socialize their developed skills.

Ayni’s Programme Chaski and Project Aprender Creando (AC) promote and demonstrate as well that the concepts of awareness and transparency inherent to financial sustainability are not abstract ones but a MUST to succeed on introducing innovative tools for education. Moreover, Ayni has dedicated special efforts to facilitate the financial support of every parent in order to lead to the sustainability of every single telecenter. This apparently simple concept and deed required a long and consequent guidance (and if needed reinforcement). Ayni uses a number of model schools which have reached a maturity on the ownership and administration of their telecenters. The way was not easy though. At the beginning parents of schoolchildren proposed different fundraising events to collect money for the telecenters. However, at the moment of that the implementation of these activities and tasks had to be assigned to voluntary teams; there were only a few. Reason is that parents are essentially breadwinners and have few or no-time to participate in the teams. There were also problems of coordination. Parents themselves decided therefore to support directly to the maintenance of the telecenters by paying a contribution per year.

Over the years this option has become a common good practice to ensure financial independency and, particularly, to enable self sustainability of the telecenters in almost all the schools within the Chaski Program and Aprender Creando Project of Ayni Bolivia. It was also noticed that actively engaged parents as well as teachers transmitted this solution since it works and has turned out to be the best solution and, in fact a rule-of-thumb or “best recept”.  As parents pay, they became ‘owners’ and ‘demand’ good services, so no ‘strikes or laziness’ were tolerated.

Regarding the educational games, the implementation track was not easy either, see [1-4].  Since 2003, Ayni technicians and board were motivated and seeking for a tangible result to show that the Chaski Program and the Aprender Creando Project worked beyond expectations. Teachers have translated the ‘difficult stuff’ into comprehensive material what has been digitalized by the Ayni technicians, providing in this way ‘slow’ students the possibility to learn by playing.  Nowadays, teachers can observe the improvements in the learning process and everyone wants to be part of it.  Furthermore, the self-esteem has clearly increased. Students became more confident as they could show the quality and quantity of what they have learned. The latter is a key for the success of the new learning material used as a game by these eager learners. Furthermore the teachers do invest their ‘free time’ in developing new material as they get a ‘certificate’ yet not recognized. A group of students has offered to collaborate by ‘upgrading’ the material and adding ‘cool stuff’ like soundtracks, special effect, etc.

The results achieved so far, motivate Ayni to make a step further and to challenge itself by spreading the results online using the website and by giving courses online. By the end of 2012, Ayni expects to realize and lunch its first online course about the Aprender Creando (AC) Methodology. Furthermore, as many telecenters work still offline due to  the absence of internet connectivity, Ayni reaches schoolchildren by giving access to games through mobile telephones (Androids) and, more interestingly, in other local languages besides Spanish, i.e. Quechua, Aymara and Tacana.

In cooperation with the Bolivian Ministry of Education, Ayni is targeting to provide official certificates to the teachers participating in the generation of educational material. This certificate will encourage and acknowledge the work of schoolteachers and will enlarge the current number of testimonials online acknowledging the effective use of the educational tools developed by Ayni.



[1] Video regarding the very first steps of the Programma Chaski of the Foundation Ayni Bolivia Nederland in Vinto, Oruro (1999).  (in Spanish)

[2] Video about the trainings on financial sustainability provided to schools in Bolivia (2009).  (in Spanish)

[3] Video on teachers’ socialization of pedagogical proposals to be digitalized (2010, 2011). (in Spanish) (in Spanish)

[4] Slide show of the results of the Project Aprender Creando (Educative Games made in Bolivia) (2008-2012). (in Spanish)



Sylvia van den Berg

Sylvia van den Berg-Ortega (Oruro, 1966) studied Linguistics and Tourism in Bolivia. In 1990, she traveled to Brussels to follow her post-graduate education on Pedagogics for Adult Education. In 1994 she moved to The Netherlands. In 1999, she started together with other Bolivian migrants the Foundation Ayni. She observed the many possibilities and opportunities that Dutch children and women have in The Netherlands. The foundation she leads improves the educational system in her home country. Through the foundation she generates the conditions and provides better chances for children, youth and women improving their access to jobs. Sylvia is the leader of the organization since she has a broad network and has a strong and creative vision about development work. Currently, she works as Project Officer at the private Foundation Wilde Ganzen (Wild Geese) and is Board member of different foundations such as Diaspora forum for Development, Latino Platform of Migrants (Pohl), Saved Tools and Chakana. She has attended and organized as well many (inter)national events and forums regarding on cooperation, migration and development.