I found many of the points discussed in this week’s reading to be interesting so I picked two to discuss. The first point mentioned was about collaboration and how learning is different in the digital age.
Tapscott discusses collaboration on page 18 in his book Grown Up Digitial. He states, “The new Web is a communications medium that enables people to create their own content, collaborate with others, and build communities,” (18, 2008). In today’s digital age people are able to collaborate by using sites such as Wiki. A wiki allows the user(s) to read and change content “in collaboration with others” on just about any given topic (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki/). People can also build communities by playing games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft. Games like Minecraft can actually teach students digital citizenship by helping students work together in online settings. Palfrey and Gasser (2008), discuss how digital citizenship is so important to teach our students. Imagine engaging our students in games such as Minecraft to help them learn how to be behave and communicate safely on the internet. Actually using the internet is much more engaging than simply discussing how one should behave on the internet.
I found this quick YouTube video that briefly describes how Minecraft can be used in the classroom.
A second point Tapscott explains is how many Net Gen children are not willing to simply accept what they are given. Net Geners “are the active initiators, collaborators, organizers, readers, writers, authenticators…,” (21, 2008). Net Geners “inquire, discuss, argue, play, shop, critique, investigate, ridicule, fantasize, seek, and inform,” (Tapscott, 2008). I can recall on several different occasions when a student might ask a teacher a question where he/she did not have an answer for the students. In the past, students would return the next day and the teacher would provide the answer to whatever question was asked. In today’s digital world, teachers no longer need to seek out these answers because their students’ are doing it for them. Students today, enjoy searching on the internet and finding answers to their questions.
On the flip side, a common argument for this would be that, “They’re [kids are] dumber than we were at their age,” (Tapscott, p. 3, 2008). Some people say things like, “They don’t read and are poor communicators,” (Bly, Robert as cited in Tapscott, 2008). Many parents and even employers would agree with this statement. In my personal experience, I see families who go out to dinner and rather than communicate with one another they are each on a tablet, pc, or cell phone while they wait for their meal to arrive. Mark Bauerlein and Harpaz “worry that kids who can look up instructions on the internet or their cell phones won’t learn how to “figure things out or solve problems,”” (as cited by Joyner, James 2010). Some people would argue that when students are faced with difficult problems that require critical thinking, students often given up and look for “cheats” or answers on the internet. These are just a few examples of why some people feel children are “dumber than we were at their age”.
Here again one could argue the other way as well; I have spent time playing Minecraft with my children while they designed and built playgrounds for a STEM lesson. My children did an excellent job designing and constructing the playgrounds; they learned a great deal about the engineering process and had fun doing it. So, does “going digital” really mean our children have to be “dumber”? I don’t think so, however it seems clear that too much technology can have a negative impact on how we interact with other people. While technology can serve as a medium for communication and collaboration there is still great value in face-to-face communication.
Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.
“Wiki” Retrieved Online from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool. (2013). Retrived online May 20, 2014 from
Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. [On-line] Retrieved May 20, 2014 from: http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8
Joyner, James. (2010). The Dumbest Generation: Does Technology Make Kids Dumb? Retrieved Online
May 20, 2014 from: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-dumbest-generation-does-technology-make-kids-dumb/