Sunday, September 14, 2008

Born Digital - Understanding the first generation of digital natives: A Review

Keeping Up with Digital Natives - Part IIII 
Born Digital - Understanding the first generation of digital natives: A Review

This is the fourth installment of my series on digital natives and how we can meet their needs in the classroom.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently read Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. The book is a product of joint research between the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen.

Born Digital paints a very clear portrait of the digital native. Palfrey and Gasser give fascinatng insight into the often-puzzling psyche of the digital natives now occupying virtually all the desks and tables in our classrooms. As an educator who feels pretty in touch with the 500+ digital natives amongst whom I walk on a daily basis, much of the information in the book validated feelings I had about digital natives already. The chapters dealing with digital natives as pirates, as creators, as learners and as innovators are especially relevant for me and my role as an educational leader. These chapters should be required reading for educational leaders and for teachers alike. While the book does not present teaching strategies, bright and creative teachers and administrators can use the information in Born Digital to tailor new and engaging lessons, courses and the like to meet the rapidly-changing needs of our digital native students.

The entire work, though, should be on the reading list of parents, especially those who are not technologically savvy and who may not be in touch with their children's digital side. Born Digital explains not only why digital natives desire so much time on the computer, the Internet, the cell phones and the video game console, but also what needs these pieces of technology fill for the digital natives. Furthermore, the book gives invaluable insight into what digital natives are doing and where they're going online. If parents have questions about things like Facebook, MySpace, World of Warcraft and other online attractions, Born Digital is a great place to get some answers.
Furthermore, Born Digital should alarm (and justifiably so) parents who have no concept of how freely their digital native children exchange and reveal personal information and photos, how frequently they communicate with strangers and how often they engage in questionable, if not illegal, activity online without thinking about the long-term consequences of their actions. This book will be an eye-opener for the vast majority of parents who will take the time to read the manuscript.

I highly recommend Born Digital for educators and I say that Born Digital is a must for parents. I also recommend browsing the website for the Digital Native Project.

If you have read Born Digital, I welcome a discussion about any or all of the book.

1 comment:

ed-leadership.com said...

Palfrey and Gasser give fascinating insight into the often-puzzling psyche of the digital natives now occupying virtually to all of my students.