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Born Digital – Part One

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Born somewhere between 1979 and 2002, the majority of NMC’s current students fall in the generational stereotype of “Digital Native”: never knowing life without computers, video games, cell phones (smartphones), and cloud computing. Assumptions abound about how this generation relates to technology, uses technology, and adopts it for personal or educational use. There is also the debate about Digital Natives versus Digital Immigrants and how the gap between “nativeness” is reflected in students abundant use of technology and faculty reluctance. I’m using this 4x4x16 writing challenge to adapt my dissertation, Teacher Education as Distance Education: Pre-Service Experience and the Uses of Technology (2015), to this format and share my findings.

Digital literacy is referred to as 21st century literacy, defined as the ability of the Digital Native generation to navigate the Internet to locate and recognize high-quality information; to manage their online identity and privacy, to recognize what to do with new technologies and digital texts; the ability to understand, use, and create new media (Erstad, 2011; Palfrey & Gasser, 2011). Digital Natives are being educated during a time of a participatory culture. But does participation in the creation of cultural artifacts through digital technology equate to participation and understanding in academic technology-rich activities? What factors influence the adoption and use of technology by this generation?

The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) was applied to the qualitative data gathered during my research. It is the fusion of eight prominent technology acceptance theories. Although there are many complexities to technology with the rapid introduction of new devices, services, and next-best-thing apps, UTAUT provided a vocabulary for understanding how different constructs influence the adoption and use of technology. Four main constructs from the theory were used to frame the research: Social Influence, Performance Expectancy, Effort Expectancy, Facilitating Conditions.

Social Influence: The degree to which an individual perceives that important others believe he or she should use the new system. Performance Expectancy: The degree to which an individual believes that using the system will help him or her to attain gains in job performance. Effort Expectancy: The degree of ease associated with the use of the system. Facilitating conditions: The degree to which an individual believes that an organizational and technical infrastructure exists to support the use of the system (Venkatesh, 2003). Part two of this challenge writing will highlight the literature review, research focus, and setting.

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