30 March 2011

Generation Gap

Today in my prep class we were discussing current events.  One of the things we mentioned was the recent election for a new political leader of Tibet (since the Dalai Lama is stepping down), the results of which will come out next month.  The favorite candidate is young Dr. Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard PhD with exceptional credentials.  Dr. Sangay is especially popular among the younger generation.  In this context we discussed the widening gap between the older and younger generations of Tibetans.

As I thought about the methodology of my project today, I realized that it works quite well with this generation gap.  Here is a brief synopsis of my methodology:
I will distribute surveys to classes of Tibetan students. The survey questions are based on the International Society for Technology in Education's five standards for digital-age learning.  The inquiries will probe the ways in which Tibetan students in India "demonstrate creativity and innovation, communicate and collaborate, conduct research and use information, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions, and use technology effectively and productively" ("NETS for students").  My mentor and I will design 20-30 survey questions to discover what cultural effects are unique to Tibetan culture and interview questions regarding positive and negative perceptions of the digital renaissance.  These survey questions include domain analysis to generate a Tibetan definition of “technology.”   The survey takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete and is completely voluntary.
If the teachers in whose classrooms I distribute surveys are willing, I will obtain written consent from them and conduct a semi-structured interview consisting of 10-20 questions and taped recording.  These interviews will address Tibetan culture and its relationship to the digital renaissance as perceived by teachers and administrators.  An interview will last 1-2 hours, and may result in 1-4 follow up interviews if the participant is particularly insightful.  In the time I am in their classrooms I will conduct unstructured interviews when I have the chance to talk to them about what I observe in the class, taking careful notes during or after. 
If you think of the older generation as representing Tibetan culture and traditions and the younger generation as representing modern Tibet, the nation in the digital age, then my methods fit beautifully.  The students, the younger generation, will be a source of information about modernized, digital Tibet.  The older generation will be the source of information regarding traditional Tibetan culture.  Beautiful!

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