It is taken as axiomatic students of Generation M (as so named a Kaiser Family Foundation Report Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18-year-olds, 2005) are always already fully interested in, engaged with, and inculcated in technology, particularly computers and communications, and if they are not whiz kids, they are somehow naturally predisposed to learning and understanding it. The rhetoric around computers and students and teaching with digital media is rife with congratulatory wonder and idealistic praise for the "new" generation's technoliteracy. However, it cannot and should not be assumed that students are more technologically attuned than their parents or their teachers, nor should parents and teachers need to constantly deploy the modesty topos in lieu of their students' perceived technoliteracy. Both sides of the workstation need to develop ways of analytically and critically engaging technology and to challenging assumptions before they become further naturalized. Granted there have been changes, some of them small and some of them sea, in these technorelationships as technologies become cheaper, more and more available, and as attention to the ways technology is shifting, transforming, and more importantly, perpetuating personal, social, and political norms and formations.

Cynthia L. Selfe, even in 1999, recognized the warning signs and dangers of not taking technology, particularly computers, seriously. She argues in "Technology and Literacy" that faculty (and by extension students) needed to try “to understand and make sense of, to pay attention to, how technology is now inextricably linked to literacy and literacy education in this country" (p. 414). Her historicization and argument pay particular attention to the ways literacy itself was defined, narrowed, and inculcated with the discourses of technological progress, freedom, and citizenship. Moreover, Selfe argues it is insufficient to simply instrumentalize computers as tools or expensive furniture, at best, and it is irresponsible to ignore, to deny technology's place, role, materiality, and power in the classroom and in the culture at large: "Computer-using teachers instruct students in how to use technology -- but, all too often, they neglect to teach students how to pay critical attention to the issues generated by technology use" (p. 429). She continues, "We require multiple perspectives if we hope to construct a robust and accurate understanding of the ways in which technology functions in our culture" (p. 434). The most profound danger for Selfe is when the technology is allowed to disappear, to become naturalized that it becomes taken for granted, taken for harmless, or taken for boon.

More recently, taking up the theme of "paying attention" particularly in pedagogy, N. Katherine Hayles' (2007) "Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generative Divide in Cognitive Modes" addresses the changes in attitudes and relationships between education and technology. Hayles argues that "we are in the midst of a generational shift in cognitive styles that poses challenges to education at all levels, including colleges and universities...To prepare, we need to become aware of the shift, understand its causes, and think creatively and innovatively about new educational strategies" (p. 187). Hayles, who is known for her interdisciplinary work in science, technology, and literature in such groundbreaking texts as How We Became Posthuman (1999) and My Mother was a Computer (2005), argues that this generational shift is one from "deep attention" to "hyper attention."

She explains: "The contrast in the two cognitive modes may be captured in an image: picture a college sophomore, deep in Pride and Prejudice, with her legs draped over an easy chair, oblivious to her ten-year-old brother sitting in front of a console, jamming on a joystick while he plays Grand Theft Auto" (pp. 187-188). Traditional education is based in deep attention, best suited for solving complex problems in a single medium over time, and holds assumptions about its own superiority over hyper attention, which negotiates well rapid change, multiple foci, and flexibility in response. For all of the teachers who belabor that they cannot get their students to read a whole novel or students who complain about the length of a three-to-five page paper, the incompatibility of the two cognitive modes seems insurmountable. A diet of media saturation, instant messaging, caffeinated multi-tasking, and video games is certainly culpable. However, Hayles situates the shift in attention as not necessarily a result of these things; in fact, citing the Kaiser Family Foundation report, "rising media consumption should be understood not so much as an absolute increase in the time spent with a given medium -- youngsters were spending about as much time with media five years before, in 1999 -- as an increase in the variety and kinds of media" (p.191). The media itself has changed "manifesting an increased tempo of visual stimuli and an increased complexity of interwoven plots" (p.191). All in all, Hayles wants to posit ways that media, "if structured appropriately, may contribute to a synergistic combination of hyper and deep attention -- a suggestion that has implications for pedagogy" (p.193). After all, playing hours and hours of World of Warcraft or any other game, often involves shuttling between hyper and deep modes of thinking, reading, playing, and learning.

Questions about the value, the place, and the validity of video games as a field of study, a mode of art, and as tools or objects of pedagogy raise a two-headed axiomatic response: either video games are only for fun, for entertainment, are popular culture, or low art, or, games are the promised land for cultural critique and revolutionary teaching. Granted these statements are hyperbolic, but there is a kernel of truth to the tensions and contentions around video game studies and theory. James Paul Gee (2003), in What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, speculates that "the theory of learning in good video games fits better with the modern, high-tech, global world today's children and teenagers live in than do the theories (and practices) of learning that they see in school" (p. 7). Kathy Sanford and Leanna Madill (2007) argue, "Gaming can encourage imagination, problem-solving skills, positive engagement with computers, as well as the practice of ‘leadership, competition, teamwork and collaboration' with multi-player games." Many games, particularly MMORPGs, are not replacing reading, writing, and literacy practice but are themselves reading, writing, and literacy practice, which is the argument of Constance Steinkuehler's (2007) recent work. But just because games have value does not mean the culture is personally, socially, or institutionally prepared or able to imagine, accept, or embrace that value—yet.

The lesson here is to challenge the technological determinism bound up in the debates and conundrums about Generation M, those that came before (as if they did not have debates about the influences of media and art), and those to come after (who will probably look back at the early twenty-first century and find the fire and brimstone debates around video games misleading and provincial). The comfort with and affinity for computer technology does not equate to the skills, strategies, and wisdom to use, critique, or question it, particularly if hype and hope have naturalized technology to the point that it is simply taken for granted. The extended lesson is to discover and rediscover the ways in which many different activities, even traditional classroom reading and writing, are also a negotiation between hyper and deep cognitive strategies. Just giving a student a copy of Pride and Prejudice does not mean he or she will be able to critically read and write about it any more than giving a student a game paddle and Grand Theft Auto means he or she will be able to critically play and write about it.

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