Generation Share

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” – George Orwell

When people talk about Generation Y or the Net Generation, they’re almost talking about me, although I think technically, I’m part of Generation X.  I’m a little too young to really fall into Generation X, and a little too old to relate to Generation Y, so I think I have an interesting–though far from unique perspective. I feel a bit more like an observer.

I was just thinking about all the applications out there that are designed to share information and collaborate: Limewire, Google docs, Scribd, YoutubeFlicker, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc. and I know that a lot of people –and I don’t want to make this an age thing, but let’s admit, it is a generational thing– are a little turned off by this. It’s invasive. But the idea of sharing information seems to be something that the younger generation take for granted. Why would I keep something I made or thought about to myself when I can share it with other people and get instant feedback? There are definitely dangers inherent in this, I won’t argue that, but this isn’t a post about internet safety.

Thinking back to conversations I’ve had with other teachers, some have them have candidly expressed an unwillingness to share their lesson plans and ideas. “I worked so hard on it,” one teacher said to me. “I don’t want someone else taking it and screwing it up, or taking credit for work they didn’t do.”

I understand that sentiment completely , maybe because I’m not part of Generation Y. But I suspect that this sentiment isn’t as common with younger people because they have grown up in an age where information is accessible all the time, and where you don’t have to be picked up by a publisher in order to be published.

Are our students better at sharing than we are? If so, what will the implications be?

5 thoughts on “Generation Share

  1. Interesting observations. You are quite correct that a great deal of teachers don’t like to share resources. Drives me crazy when I see someone with just an incredible idea but keep it under wraps.

    Students are way better at sharing than what we are. This isn’t always a good thing though. There are ethics involved in the process that get ignored quite often.

    More importantly, there needs to be a skill to determine what’s worthy of sharing and being shared. The ability to determine quality is a skill that the non-sharing teacher can help out with now.

    I suspect that the result will be a more willing and open society that challenges copyright in the current sense. They just need to develop a parallel sense of ethics and respect for quality.

  2. Great post, Danika. I am also frustrated by colleagues who refuse to share. Interestingly, I often find that those who don’t want to share are less likely to be on the cutting edge in terms of pedagogy. The wall that keeps them from sharing with others seems to also prevent them from learning from others.

    It is interesting that our students share more easily. As Doug pointed out, they do need to develop rigorous ethics, as well as refined skills in the areas of synthesis and evaluation. One of the things that worries me is that my generation of teachers, at least in my experience, tends to model really poor practices in these areas. How often to we use images, music, videos, in our teaching in order to ‘jazz it up’ without paying heed to copyright? There seems to be a popular belief that it is ok if we are just ‘borrowing it’ to make a point in the classroom. Unless we are being explicit about our use of copyright materials, I think that we send a very strong message to our students.

    I recently attended a conference session where teachers had taught kids how to alter photos using photoshop in order to make their writing more ‘interesting’. I have to say I was really floored by the fact that the presenting team had shown kids how to google images and then import them into photoshop to manipulate WITHOUT even mentioning any ethical questions to consider. There seemed to be no awareness of Creative Commons, either. Yikes.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Doug and Shannon. You raised some very important points. I think that a critical teaching point for our students needs to be online ethics. I think too many teachers avoid this point because they don’t realize that there are alternatives to just blindly copying and pasting someone else’s work. It’s something I personally need to be more careful about.

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  5. …And it’s only this week that I discovered I’m part of Generation Jones!

    When it comes to sharing, you’re right that the youth of today do more of it, but they share ‘anything’ and ‘everything’ regardless of the legal or ethical ramifications.

    When it comes to modeling appropriate forms of sharing, we can at least model Academic Integrity by properly attributing our sources. The use of Creative Commons content is one way to open this discussion across generations…

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