Grown Up Digital: How the net generation is changing your world

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your WorldGrown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m so glad that Don Tapscott is Canadian. Knowing that he’s a local expert and is so prescient in his thinking made this book an even more enjoyable read. I actually listened to it on audiobook through Audible.com.

This is one of those books that caught my attention 4 years ago when it first came out (2009) but I was only ready to read it now. Tapscott calls the current generation of students in high school “The Net Generation” and describes them as valuing these eight norms: freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed and innovation (p. 74). As such education is experiencing a massive paradigm shift and is moving towards inquiry-based learning, where students direct their own studies. Tapscott describes school’s new dominant role as one to “encourage students to discover for themselves, and learn a process of discovery and critical thinking instead of just memorizing the teacher’s information” (p. 130). School libraries need to morph to extend this role as well, creating flexible spaces where student innovation can happen. This book has a lot to do with the transformation that I’m pushing for from school library to learning commons.

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Is it possible to grow readers who are also digitally savvy?

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Penny Kittle speak about reading and how complex it is for intermediate/senior teachers to teach.  Kittle estimates that in 1st year college/university that the average pages a student reads is 500.  She proposed that the #1 reason that students drop out after first year is that they can’t keep up with the demand of reading.  Meanwhile Don Tapscott tells us in Grown Up Digital that we need to appeal to the multimedia savvy of the NetGeneration students in our classes.  How do we balance both of those ideas?  Heather Durnin tells us how she does it in her blog post about modifying literature circles in her grade 8 classroom.  What I love about Heather’s work is that she’s still focusing on  teaching reading, critical analysis and through social interaction (Vygotzky would approve).  The students develop their skills in analysis face-to-face with their peers and their teacher, before being accountable to the technology. I suspect that as students hear the types of questions and comments that lead to richer discussion, that in turn their reading becomes stronger as they look for ways to contribute.

What’s the next level?  Maybe it’s that the students publish their work to an authentic audience and get feedback.  The hardest part of inquiry-based learning for me is to ask really meaningful questions that will lead to critical thinking.  I’m at the point where I am conscious of designing my questions to be evaluative ….so that students are developing criteria as well as their analysis, but the questions don’t come naturally to me yet. Is there an app for that?  I don’t think so.  #teachersrock