Reconsidering “Gen Y” & Co: From Minding the Gap to Overcoming it

Emanuele Rapetti, Lorenzo Cantoni, New Media in Education laboratory – Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland


The paper moves from the well-known debate concerning the existence of a generation of digital(-ised) learners, also known as “digital natives” or “generation Y” (or similar ones).

In paragraphs 1 and 2 the debate is presented in its complexity, focusing the attention on the evolution of the idea behind this approach, and highlighting different voices within the discussion.

The third paragraph shows results from a research project (named “Learners’ voices”) run in the academic institutions of Ticino (Switzerland) which ask for a critical re-consideration of the “generational approach” in the field of educational technologies.

Finally, in paragraphs 4 and 5, the text offers some research considerations and lead to open conclusions: it is likely to consider that focusing on the gap is pedagogically and anthropologically useless, even the use of labels can be misleading, and the neutral “Learners of Digital Era” is recommended. Educators, teachers, professors, and instructional designers have rather to work with the media convergence concept, in order to overcome the gap and to empower the teaching and learning process in the twenty-first century.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, MOOCs, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, learning management system, LMS, interaction,

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