The Net Generation


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There's a new type of student in our schools today, and we're all trying to learn more about their thinking, priorities and values. This presentation is the introduction to a panel discussion on "The Net Generation".

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  • Discussion about the Haiti earthquake and the devastation caused by the natural disaster.
  • Thousands of people missing,

    presumed dead.  

    Countless others were left homeless -  desolate and looking for their friends and family.
  • Almost immediately, websites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube responded to the situation. Dispatches, video, pictures and personal narratives flooded the internet and informed the world about what was going on. Conventional news had barely begun to organize and respond while the net got the word out and spread like wildfire.

    One can't understate the importance that social networks and internet-based technology had in connecting people and informing the world about this tragedy. It was also instrumental in raising money  

    Who knows how many people were reunited or saved by these tools?
  • We live in a time of constant connections, and there’s no question that technology has changed the way that we all live, work and learn.

    The “Net Generation” is a term used to describe those young people who have no knowledge of a world without the internet.

    They’re the ones who look at you funny when you talk about old things, like “The X-Files” or “Nirvana” or America Online (when people used to think it was the internet). Don’t even get me started about the Net Generation and Star Wars -- we’ll be here all night.

    Officially, they are children in our schools right now, from kindergarten up through college.

    If we look back over the last twenty-some years, we can see the rise of the computer, the birth of the internet, the explosion of cable television, ipods, GPS, and social networked websites like Facebook and Flickr.

    People broadcasting their lives... their thoughts... and not always thinking about the consequences.

    As “Growing up Digital” author Don Tapscott says “These kids are bathed in bits.” And there’s research to suggest that this environment has begun to shape the way that younger kids’ brains work and how they process information.

    And, largely because of the internet and the terrific opportunities it provides for collaboration, communication and information access, this is also the first truly Global Generation.

    As any parent or teacher in this room can say, all of this great stuff presents a whole bagful of great opportunities and challenges. Frankly, most generations can probably say that about their children’s generations.

    Recent extensive research, done by the nGenera Foundation, has attempted to paint a picture of these young people. It raises some interesting points, especially for those in the classrooms.
  • The internet has given us the freedom to instantly choose what to buy and from hundreds to online venues.

    Technology has provided a wealth of entertainment choices, available instantly and often for free.

    Surveys of older, college-age students show a very interesting attitude towards the workplace. Students now expect that they will not be in a job for more than three years. They expect that they will change careers several times in their lives and would prefer to work from home or in a mobile environment, with flexible hours to suit their lives.

    And further research suggests that the workpace is responding. Companies like Google, Intel and Best Buy have modeled this philosophy, offering flexible schedules and any number of options for people to take in terms of how they approach work. As Google CEO Eric Schmidt says, “our expectations are sky high, but we give our employees every opportunity to meet those expectations in a way that works for them.”

    This could be the working world that our elementary students are inheriting.
  • Think about the iPod touch or the iPhone.

    They’re terrific devices with any number of apps, features and the ability to put music, movies and tv shows on it. It’s the equivalent of my bedroom in high school, sitting in my pocket.

    Actually, much cooler.

    Someone said something about the iPod that was interesting. They said that they just wanted the device to work, but their kids want the device to work for them.

    In many ways, the Net Generation want to get something and then make it theirs. From customizing their computer wallpaper and icons to their avatars online or characters in a game, technology has created a world with infinite options, colors, faces and sounds.

    For marketers, it’s now critical that products at least have the potential for customization And this, similar to our first point, includes entertainment. It started with VCRs, but now TiVo and websites like Hulu are allowing all of us to watch TV shows when we choose to watch, rather than when the networks decide.
  • Social networks like Facebook, for instance, have created natural places for all of us to meet and share. For a generation that was raised with these tools in their lives, it’s not only a space, but it’s an extension of reality.

    It’s very funny, when we talk to kids about things like blogs, wikis and using online classroom space. It’s such a natural part of their lives that it’s difficult for them to even talk about how they’ve used these tools before. To them, it’s just a place they go to share and get information.

    Not only are elementary schools, high schools and colleges using online spaces for student collaboration and communication, but these concepts are central to a mobile workforce. Telecommuting is heavily reliant on a virtual space for sharing work.

    Like a lot of these strands, just because these spaces exist for kids and have value, it doesn’t mean that they always know the proper way to use them, or the risks that are inherent in some spaces. We need a combination of conversations about digital citizenship and also thinking and learning strategies for online work.
  • The internet, and practices like blogging and social networking, have introduced the concept of “connective reading” and “connective writing”

    Basically, this means that a piece of writing is no longer just a piece of writing. When online, it can be filled with links, taking the reader to source materials, videos, music, or other web sites. In young people, there’s often an expectation that they can dig deeper into a text now.

    The students in our schools have many things to say about many things -- pieces of information that they have picked up on their journey online. Technology is allowing them to pursue their dreams and experience the world. It has opened so many doors to creativity and expression.

    There’s so much information online and in the media now (both good and bad), that critical thinking skills are more important than ever. As we said at last year’s Expo, our kids are pretty good at accessing information, but they still need to learn how to assess that information, process it, and use it responsibly.
  • Think about when you got your first CD player. I remember that I got mine as a gift in high school.

    Now think about how long it was, between that first CD player and your iPod or other MP3 player.

    Innovation happens so much faster now. I was talking to a few kids last week, about the Apple iPad, which hasn’t even come out yet. They thought it was neat but were already designing the next version -- it needs a camera, external storage options, a better display...

    Granted, they were probably right about most of that stuff, but can we let version one come out first?

    I’ve already talked about the tremendous opportunities for creativity, and it seems that this is not only a great chance for students to learn, but it’s a chance to foster an important skill for the future. knowledge work or creative jobs are growing exponentially in this generation. Those who can adapt to change and even help shape it through creative thinking and innovation are going to have a decided advantage.
  • There are some who criticize the net generation and make some very common assumptions of young people.  And there are equal bodies of research, expressing how technology has grown our capacity to learn and interact or how technology has dulled our senses – our attention spans - and withdrawn us from human interaction.

    Some feel that technology and the prevalence of media has dulled the intellect of a generation - teaching young people to be lazy, self-absorbed and withdrawn. “The Dumbest Generation” was the title of a book by Emory English Professor Mark Bauerlein. In his book he asserts that

    “Most young people in the United States neither read literature (or fully know how), work reliably (just ask employers), visit cultural institutions (of any sort), nor vote (most can’t even understand a simple ballot). They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount foundations of American history, or name any of their local political representatives. What do they happen to excel at is – each other. They spend unbelievable amounts of time electronically passing stories, pictures, tunes, and texts back and forth, savoring the thrill of peer attention and dwelling in a world of puerile banter and coarse images.”

    In the face of this criticism there is also abundant evidence that we are looking at a sea change in our learning capacity. The young people in our elementary schools are adapting to meet the needs of technology, information and the world around them. In other examples, young people of this generation are achieving and creating great things. Many are invested in the world around them and concerned for the future.

    The Net Generation has certainly ushered in changes for those of us in schools, just as they probably have at home as well. I think I speak for everyone up here when I say that the kids in our schools are exciting, inquisitive and extremely creative. Working and living with them is always fascinating and keeps us all looking at ourselves, as we try to learn about the changing world, trends and ways that technology can help students learn.
  • Let’s bring our panel into the discussion here, and we’ve collected a number of great questions from parents and community members online. Based on these questions, I think that we can explore three important aspects of our topic:

    Culture– What we need to learn about this technology-driven world to help us understand our young people?
    Safety– What are the dangers facing young people these days, and how do we protect them and educate them about proper behavior?
    Learning – What does all of this mean for helping our kids learn and grow?
  • Culture Questions

    1. There were several questions about social networks like Facebook and Xenga. First question is how are these sites of value to kids?

    2. Follow up to #1. Using Facebook as the most prominent example, what tips would you give both kids and adults for making this a safe and fun place to connect with friends and family. ( we can go into details about privacy settings. I’ll even open the site up if you want).

    3. We had a question about second life. Does anyone want to describe what that is for the audience? What have been your experiences in that world?

    4. There was a question from a gamer-parent, asking for our opinions about gaming? They mention that there are a lot of negative studies out there, and they’re wondering what we’ve seen and what we think.

    5. How can parents address a students’ inability to focus on their work? Kids seem to always need some technology going or on hand when they’re working, and they’re wondering if this is becoming a problem. Thoughts?

    6. One question asks if technology is killing students attention span and memory? What can be done to address this?
  • 1. How much time is too much time online? What’s the best way to talk about this with kids?

    2. Do we see a lot of bullying using technology? How do we address it with students in school?

    3. What resources do you think are best for parents to learn more about internet safety and cyberbullying?

    4. What strategies are best for keeping aware of a child’s internet usage at home. The person added “without being overbearing” to the question?

    5. Can you think of three great sites that you think kids and parents should know about? (can be fun or educational - just safe).

    6. If a student wants to have their own website, what’s the safest way to allow this?
  • 1. What’s wrong with kids being unplugged during the school day? What does technology add to the experience?

    2. Similarly, there was a question asking how much time in the day is devoted to technology.

    3. A few questions asked about using online learning tools like Moodle with kids. We’re just beginning to use these tools but, from your experience, what needs to be considered when moving instruction to the Internet?

    3.5 Are there advantages to online learning, as opposed to face to face?

    4. Do you think that technology makes kids more or less creative?

    5. There was also a question about our internet safety policies. I can say, along with Nate and Pepi, what we do, but I’d love to hear everyone’s perspective on this one. How do you balance blocking sites with helping kids evaluate and make wise choices online?
  • The Net Generation

    1. 1. The Net Generation Tech Expo 30 February 22nd, 2010
    2. 2. The Net Generation
    3. 3. Freedom of choice
    4. 4. Customization
    5. 5. Natural collaborators
    6. 6. Adventurous thinkers
    7. 7. Speed is normal
    8. 8. Innovation is part of life.
    9. 9. The Dumbest Generation? The Smartest Generation?
    10. 10. Culture Safety Learning
    11. 11. Culture
    12. 12. Safety
    13. 13. Learning
    14. 14. Questions?