LoDE-Learners of Digital Era

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Summary Since the 1990s, a wide debate has been generated around the" learners-new media dichotomy", with a consequent journalistic reverberation. In particular, expressions like “digital natives”,“Y” generation, or “net-generation”
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  COVER AND TITLE LoDE: Learners of Digital Era From the analysis of the current debate to an empirical study emphasis ing the learners’ perspective   A dissertation presented by Emanuele Giovanni Rapetti Supervised by Prof. Lorenzo Cantoni Submitted to the Faculty of Communication Sciences Università della Svizzera italiana  –   Lugano for the degree of Ph.D. in Communication Sciences July 2012  2 To Serena, who is always able to see in me more than I can.  3 BOARD Advisor: Prof. Lorenzo Cantoni Università della Svizzera italiana  –   Lugano (Switzerland) Reviewers: Prof. Mark Bullen  British Columbia Institute of Technology  –   Burnaby (Canada) Prof. Pier Cesare Rivoltella Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore  –   Milano (Italy)  4 The research was carried out at the Università della Svizzera italiana Ph.D. Thesis, Defended the 17 th  July 2012 Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano (Switzerland) Address: Via G. Buffi 13 CH-6900 Lugano © Emanuele Giovanni Rapetti, 2012 Copyright note The present written text is a unique, creative, srcinal and unpublished intellectual work as a whole. Everytime it has been possible to find a reference, author(s) is(are) presented between  brackets in the text and fully quoted in the Bibliography section, according to APA citation style. I am willing to solve any eventual case of omission or controversy. Concerning my texts, I used in the dissertation parts of other works I did. At the  beginning of each chapter, already published documents on the topic are listed, and then quoted, when it is the case.  5 ABSTRACT(English) Since the 1990s, a wide debate has been generated around the "learners-new media dichotomy", with a consequent journalistic reverberation. In particular, expressions like “digital natives”, “Y” generation, or “net - generation” contributed to diffuse the hypothesis that  –   since the 1980s  –   a generation of learners with typical characteristics related to their great familiarity with digital technology could be identified. Such a debate has been widely dominated by commentators who expressed a confident attitude towards that generation, stressing how their common peculiarities were extremely positive at the social, cognitive, and learning levels. On the other hand, the impact that new media could have on such a huge range of people caused great concerns too. Recently, critical voices have jointed the debate: they put in doubt that these "labels" are useful for an accurate understanding of reality, and notice that scientific evidences of this fact are very limited. This dissertation is based on the analysis of these controversies, and is aimed to focus the debate, offering a strategy to overcome the mere antithesis between the different interpretations. In order to do so, the empirical research  Learners’ voices at USI  -SUPSI  (run in Ticino, from October 2009 to June 2011) is presented. This research explores in depth this theme and observes the role that ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) play in USI (Università della Svizzera italiana)and SUPSI (Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana) students' learning. This research falsifies the presence of a unique cohort of learners, putting in evidence different positions within the same age range and similar behaviours among individuals with different socio-demographical characteristics.
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