Grown Up Digital


How the net generation is changing your world

Don Tapscott undertook some research back in the late 20th century (1997…) and wrote it up in a book called Growing Up Digital. It was a book about what it meant for the generation that his kids were in – to be growing up in a digital world. Fast forward 12 or 13 years and those kids grew up, got jobs, and now live in the 21st century as digital natives. Tapscott calls them the Net Generation. This book is about the impact of 21st century technologies on their lives. And our lives.

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World

You can buy this book… Click the image to purchase

Don Tapscott is an American researcher, writer, and commentator interested in the impact of technology on our lives. This book is the end result of a $4 million dollar research project. It’s not written as an academic text though. It’s a big book, but it’s engaging, easy to read, and suitable for an audience who is interested, but who aren’t computer and IT geeks themselves.

There haven’t been many books that I’ve read in the last 12 months that have changed the way I think about things. This one did though… I went out and bought five copies to give to colleagues. There is an excellent chapter on the net generation as learners and how we need to rethink education. This is the chapter that connects most with my work and the one I wanted to really spread the word about. Technological change is moving too fast for us not to stay informed… We don’t need to understand everything but I think we do need to stay informed and this is what the book is about.

Tapscott’s basic premise is that the net generation – that’s someone aged between 11 years old and 31 years old today – has come of age. We have faster broadband internet available via mobile devices just about anywhere, iPods and iPhones, not to mention all of the personal social networking websites like facebook and others that are really quite new. Part of his argument addresses the concerns of parents and critics who think that the digital age is making us dumber and causing us to devolve into net-addicted, socially inept morons… While there are people like this around, Tapscott argues that for every plagiarising, narcissistic, online bully, there are multitudes of well adjusted, well informed, and in fact, highly motivated, digital activists who represent a new culture of 21st century work, education, and cooperation.

Tapscott explores a lot of interesting content, among it all he unpacks what he calls the Eight Net Gen Norms including: 1) freedom; 2) customisation; 3) scrutiny; 4)integrity; 5) collaboration; 6) entertainment; 7)speed; and 8) innovation. For us in education, though he offers seven strategies for education 2.0 which he also unpacks and discusses. These are:

  1. Don’t throw technology into the classroom and hope for good things.
  2. Cut back on lecturing.
  3. Empower students to collaborate.
  4. Focus on lifelong learning, not teaching to the test.
  5. Use technology to get to know each student.
  6. Design educational programmes according to the eight norms (listed above) with a focus on fun, innovation, and project-based learning.
  7. Reinvent yourself as a teacher, professor, or educator.

Buy this book… Click the image to purchase

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World

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