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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Research on Digital Natives

This is second post in a row from the AECT BlogTrack dealing with digital natives.

Okay, so last week I asked the question Do Digital Natives Exist? I see that my colleague in this Blogtrack, Rick West, has taken up the challenge and tried to answer that question - see Digital Natives: Response to Michael.

Rick takes an interesting perspective on this one, as he indicates up front that he is on the fence and then poses a couple of questions. The one that he begins with is the one that I take issue with the most:

For me, I wonder if it is a chicken and the egg kind of situation. Are kids wired differently, therefore we should create a society to meet their new needs, or did we create a society that wired the kids differently?
The reason this bothers me, or that I take issue with it, is regardless of the answer to this question - what difference does it make? I mean really, what difference does it make if society should change because of the way kids are wired or if kids are wired because of the way society has changed?

In asking this question, Rick has clearly placed himself on one side of the fence. This question implies that regardless of which came first, children today have brains that are wired very differently from the majority of people in previous generations. ‘m not sure if that’s what he wanted to imply his position was, and I welcome him to clarify it in his next entry. However, it does beg the question that many have been asking about this notion of digital natives - and about gaming, as Rick also brought that up as well - where is the research?

Since my original posting, I notice that some others have taken up the call and have posted entries on this topic. A few that came to my attention include:

But in all of this, I still don’t see any research. It is fine and dandy to have people with lots of experience working with this population of individuals and to document their experiences over time, but I don’t see Prensky doing this. I don’t see Dede doing this. I don’t see Tapscott doing this. What I see is people who are working with adoloscents today, noticing something different about how they approach schoolor how they use technology - seeing that it is different from the previous generation - and trying to speculate why this might be.

And I suppose for people like Prensky or Tapscott, or even an Ian Jukes (see The Committed Sardine Blog), that’s okay. But for people like Chris Dede, Jim Gee, and others who would fall into the category of researchers, there needs to be more and I haven’t seen it yet.

So, is it just me? Am I missing what research is out there? Or, for that matter, are the likes of Chris Dede and Jim Gee (both of whom I have great respect for by the way) what Roger’s would classify as “early adopters” and the research (particularly publishing cycles) simply hasn’t caught up with them yet? You tell me…

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