Sunday, August 21, 2011

Digital Native Mythology

Howard RheingoldImage via WikipediaI was glad to see some research this week on the so-called "Digital Native" in the article "Open University Research Explodes Myth of 'Digital Native.'" The whole idea of a "net generation" is ridiculous - the idea that because you were born after a certain year, you have some latent super-powers as far as technology is concerned. What the research shows is that it depends more on money, class, and access then on when you were born. Much of what is written about digital natives and the net generation is true only for the upper-middle classes and above or in areas where there is consistent access to technology. There is a whole body of literature that has grown up around this so-called generational relationship to technology and it is just hogwash. I agree that there are skills that we need around technology, I will even call them 21st Century Skills if someone wants to engage in buzz words. I love that the Open University is actually researching this rather than engaging in the anecdotalism that passes for research in much of education. Some of the more astute observers in this area include folks like Howard Rheingold who sees that though youngsters have some skills in technology, they still need to learn the critical thinking and focused attention skills required to engage in technology in a meaningful way. We do have to teach the current generation differently than the previous - not because they have wicked mad tech skills but because without the focus and discipline required to make sense of the media, they become mere consumers of media - passively disengaged in the world.

More on this can be found at
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