BORN DIGITAL Attempts to Make Sense of Digital Natives

[Cross-posted on Education Musings]

Seven years ago, Marc Prensky authored a seminal article titled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants- in which he coined and used these now-famous phrases to describe (respectively) the students of today who are “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet; and those of us who were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in our lives, become fascinated by and adopted many new technologies. (Marc Prensky still continues to do some exciting work - his latest research is on kids, gaming and learning. I had the pleasure of interacting with him at BLC07 last year).

Prensky's powerful observations (and terms) have been used in the years following 2001 to make a case for the use of digital technologies in education in a manner that will serve these digital natives well. But it has been a tough sell, and so far I think, most digital immigrants still don't get it!

Anyway, coming to the book that prompted this post. Born Digital is an initiative of the Digital Natives project, an interdisciplinary collaboration of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen. The aim of the Digital Natives project is to understand and support young people as they grow up in a digital age. (They're a pretty active group on facebook - I'm a member but have not been able to participate in any of their events so far).

Although the title and sub-title of the book are self-explanatory, here's the blurb that describes the book on the Born Digital website -

"The first generation of “Digital Natives” – children who were born into and raised in the digital world – are coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture and even the shape of our family life will be forever transformed. But who are these Digital Natives? How are they different from older generations – or “Digital Immigrants” – and what is the world they’re creating going to look like? In Born Digital, leading Internet and technology experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser offer a sociological portrait of these young people who can seem, even to those merely a generation older, both extraordinarily sophisticated and strangely narrow.

Based on extensive original research, including interviews with Digital Natives around the world, Born Digital explores a broad range of issues, from the highly philosophical to the purely practical: What does identity mean for young people who have dozens of online profiles and avatars? Should we worry about privacy issues – or is privacy even a relevant concern for Digital Natives? How does the concept of safety translate into an increasingly virtual world? Are online games addictive, and how do we need to worry about violent video games? What is the Internet's impact on creativity and learning? What lies ahead – socially, professionally, and psychologically – for this generation?

Born Digital will be essential reading for parents, teachers, and the myriad of confused adults who want to understand the digital present – and shape the digital future."

I have not read the book, but would appreciate reactions from anyone who has..

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Tags: digital, generation, immigrants, natives, net


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