Week 6 Blog: Net Generation Consumers or “Prosumers” in the 21st Century

Grown Up Digital Tapscott

Chapter 7 of Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital reminds me of a recent discussion my husband and I had.  He and I are slightly older that the Net Generation Consumer, but we still relate to some of the ideas discussed in chapter 7.  I took my husband out to purchase a new TV for him.  I was hoping to surprise him and I think I did.  We went to Best Buy and began looking at televisions.  He told me what he was looking for and after a half hour or so we left, without a TV.  I was a little bummed because I really wanted to get a TV for him.  He explained that he really hadn’t researched what he wanted and what was out there.  He wanted to compare different pricing options and different televisions that would best fit our family.  He also really did not want to listen to all the employees at Best Buy tell him about which TV is best; My husband wanted to go into Best Buy or another store already educated on what he might have purchased.

Tapscott discusses how the “eight norms” of net generation consumers influence how they purchase products.  Similar to how my husband felt about purchasing a TV, Net Geners want to have the freedom of choosing a product; they do not want employees telling them which product is the “best fit”.  Net Geners “scrutinize” each product.  Asking questions like: “Is it the best product?”  “If so, is it the best product to fit my needs?” etc…  Net Geners are also looking for a company that has integrity.  Does the company back their products?  Net Geners turn to their friends for advice on different products and services by posting on Facebook.  For example, a recent post on my news feed read, “In Traverse City, know of any good places to eat dinner?”  Instantly this person had several replies from friends or friends of friends that had traveled to Traverse City.  Consumers don’t really need to purchase Consumer Report or call around to find a good place to eat.  Now, consumers have the internet which includes a large social network they can consult when purchasing goods or services.

Other norms Net Geners consider include: is it fun, can I collaborate with the company providing it to suggest improvements, also is it fast and are my communications with the company answered quickly.  The Net Generation represents a group of people who want more than just being a consumer; they want to be prosumers.  According to Alvin Toffler (1980), prosumers are “proactive consumers” or “common consumers who were predicted to each become active to help personally improve or design the goods and services of the marketplace, transforming it and their roles as consumers,” (as cited by en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Prosumer).


Not all Net Geners are “prosumers”.  Still, marketing professionals should be aware of several things when trying to attract the attention of the Net Generation.  Marketers need to focus on engaging consumers, creating a consumer experience(s), and come up with a strategy to plug into N’Fluence networks, just to name a few (Tapscott, 2008).

Palfrey and Gasser in Born Digital

In Born Digital Palfrey and Gasser discuss the copyright issues that go along with being a prosumer or someone who tries to personally improve or design the goods and services.  In instances like Napster and Grokster, the companies were sharing music online without paying much thought to copyright laws.  In the end both companies were shut down, but certainly people are still sharing music files online without paying for them.  If companies want to connect with the Net Generation “they will have to find a way other than through fear to reconnect with their customers,” (Palfrey and Gasser, 2010).  One way might be through something like iTunes.  iTunes doesn’t only offer music downloads; they also offer “audiobooks, podcasts, and ipod games, among other things” (144).  Personally, I enjoy being able to download one or two songs from an album rather than purchasing a cd with all the music.  Then I find myself only listening to those two songs I like and that gets old.  I also enjoy that I can move songs around in my library to create a nice running playlist.  I think Net Geners can relate because iTunes allows them to be creative and tailor their music to fit their needs.  iTunes also gives you the flexibility to look at different price options and the option to have DRM free music or Digital Rights Management System (Macworld Staff, 2009).  I have not looked at other programs but I am certain there are other companies that offer ways to download music.

As I look at the Net Generation as consumers I can’t help but think about how we should educate them and the coming generations.  In order to educate and reach out to the Net Generation we need to focus on some of the 8 norms mentioned by Tapscott.  Such as making our content for students engaging, fun, collaborative, and useful to them.  As educators we should be continuously learning about new technology and how to integrate it successfully into our classrooms.


Lesson ideas for Net Generation Consumers:

This particular website actually discusses the Next Generation as learners rather than the Net Generation, however I found myself continually coming back to this page to explore it more.  This site offers education on life insurance, health insurance, risk management with financial planning, and disability pay options when injuries make a person unable to work.  Each of these lessons offers information on things that might be of interest to students as they prepare to graduate high school or even college.  The site offers an intro. Video followed by lessons and worksheets.  There are also student resources and helpful links to help provide additional support and education.

Site: http://www.scholastic.com/nextgeneration/





Macworld Staff. (2009).  iTunes Store and DRM-free music: What you need to know.

               Retrieved online June 23, 2014 from http://www.macworld.com/article/1138000/drm_faq.html


Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.

               [On-line] Retrieved June 23, 2014 from:   http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8


Prosumer. Retrieved online June 23, 2014 from en.wikipdeia.org/wiki/Prosumer


Next Generation. (2014). Retrieved online June 23, 2014 from                http://www.scholastic.com/nextgeneration/


Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Growing Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.

               McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.





Blog Week 5: Net Geners are Changing the Way We Do Business

Initial Thoughts

The first thing that resonated with me as I read through the content for week five was actually Lee’s discussion about “paying your dues”. Our family moves often due to my husband’s position so I constantly feel as though I have to “pay my dues”. On the one hand, this becomes very frustrating for me because I know I work extremely hard at being an outstanding educator and yet I constantly have to demonstrate my skills as a teacher. Still, each time I do this I find that I learn a great deal about myself and my beliefs as a teacher. When we move I revise and tweak my resume, cover letter, and even my philosophy of education. Sometimes I think it is good to reflect on our own teaching; it allows us to see where we have room for improvement. “Reflection is a key ingredient to move knowledge from short term to long term memory,” (Clements, Mark).

Lee also pointed out that, “The digital footprint is the best resume that a Net Gener can develop. This rang true for me as I work on revising my resume. I have spent a great deal of time working on my professional portfolio both for my master’s degree and my career.

Thoughts on Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott

In Grown Up Digital, Tapscott discusses the need for businesses to change the way they hire and employee their employees. Some businesses are hesitant to do this while others make a daily effort to meet the needs of Net Geners. Tapscott spoke about Best Buy creating the website http://www.BlueShirtNation.com in order to tap into Net Geners creativity to solve today’s business problems. According to Tapscott the website has been a huge success for Best Buy (Tapscott, 2008). This example reminded me of a recent project I came across while I was on a family trip to The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. While we were there, we visited the planetarium to see a show about the Moon. The show was narrated by the voice of Tim Allen and discussed the Google Lunar XPrize. Please view the short video clip below to learn more about this.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=O9FMi3RY8kc

If businesses continue to create projects like this that allow Net Geners and others to collaborate and be creative, then we are giving people the opportunity to “solve today’s problems”. Personally, I would love to attend one of the universities or work for one of the businesses that have embraced this project.

While many businesses are working diligently to incorporate new technology, other businesses are still lagging behind. In my classroom last fall we were certainly lagging behind many schools in the lower 48 in terms of technology available in the classroom. My classroom was equipped with 3 classroom computers, a Smart Board (1 for the school), and a separate lab that we could visit once a week. I incorporated technology whenever I could ensuring that my students had time to use different software programs such as Lexia, Google Sketch-Up 8, and Microsoft Office. Additionally, when my students were in the computer lab we tried to work on long term projects that I could tie into the curriculum rather than simply working on typing skills or math review. Still, many of my students were spending more time with technology at home than they were in my classroom. So, I created a classroom website for my students and parents to visit. The parents could receive support with mathematics homework and reading skills, while the students could visit my Symbaloo page to access websites for practice in math and reading. Even though I am trying to implement things inside and outside of my classroom to help students keep up in today’s digital society, I still feel there is more I can do as an educator to be sure that my students have the skills necessary to be successful in today’s digital world.


Thoughts on Born Digital by Palfrey and Gasser:

In Born Digital, Palfrey and Gasser seem to shed more light on how Net Geners are impacting the business world. “The shift is on: In a few short years, businesses have gone from ignoring informal groups of Digital Natives getting together online to obsessing about ways to monetize their enthusiasm,” (Palfrey and Gasser, 2010). They discussed the many ways digital natives are influencing today’s society through online platforms like Facebook. Palfrey and Gasser go on to discuss how digital natives excel at creating services and products that can appeal to digital natives. This is similar to how Best Buy is using digital natives to keep their employees active in the company (Tapscott, 2008).


Educators, can use sites like Teachers Pay Teachers to create, share, and even sell lessons/activities they have created for the classroom. Sites like these, often created by digital natives, offer opportunities for educators to reflect on their teaching and improve their skills as a teacher.


In the classroom we can encourage our students to build their digital skills by giving our students time to develop their creativity and explore different digital tools available to them. One important thing to remember is to use technology effectively. Sometimes I think we simply try to give our students time on the computer using programs for instance, while this is valuable we also need to give our students time to explore and create online.



Clements, Mark. The Importance of Reflection in Education. Retrieved online from http://www.edunators.com/index.php/becoming-the-edunator/step-5-reflecting-for- learning/the-importance-of-reflection-in-education

“Doing Impossible Things: Google Lunar XPrize Team Summit”. (2013) Retrieved online from
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/media/videos/doing-impossible-things-google-lunar-xprize- team-summit-2013

Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.
[On-line] Retrieved June 16, 2014 from: http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8

Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Growing Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.
McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.

Teachers Pay Teachers. Retrieved online from http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

Reflecting on How My Experience as a Student Has Changed My Perspective as a Teacher

Sometimes it is hard to believe that I am that much older than the students I teach.  I realize I am, and my own children make comments like, “Mom, things are different now,” or “Everyone has a cell phone now,” which continually remind me that I am “older”.  Still, I guess I don’t feel that far removed from my children and students, but as my kids point out often, I suppose in some ways I am.

Chapter 5 from Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital made me reflect on my education and the way I teach now.  I am a firm believer in students constructing meaning for their learning whether it be math or reading.  As Eric Mazur said, “Students have to connect the information to what they already know, develop mental models, learn how to apply the new knowledge, and how to adapt this knowledge to new and unfamiliar situations,” (as cited in Tapscott, 2008).  As I teach I try to create situations where my students are able to model how they solve problems rather than me simply telling them how I want them to solve problems.

When I was in elementary school, I was often told which algorithm to use to solve a problem.  I love numbers so this method worked well for me and I was able to recall how to solve problems using the given algorithms.  That being said, I did not always understand why certain methods worked.  Nor do I ever recall telling other students how I solved a problem.  I do remember occasionally solving a problem on the board but I was never required to provide a verbal explanation.  As a teacher, I require my students to explain their thinking.  This is an excerpt taken from my final portfolio:

In my classroom, I really try to help my students understand the different algorithms for solving problems involving the four operations.  I also encourage my students to be able to construct meaning as they solve different problems.  When my students work through word problems I will often have them try them alone first.  Then I will give them time to work with their group members to solve the problem again.  After 5-10 minutes (sometimes 15) one person from each group will explain how the problem was solved to the rest of the class.  Then I award them points; I give a 1, 2, or 3.  Things I consider are how well they explained their response, effort, and how they got to the answer.  I am not always looking for a correct response, but more for perseverance and critical thinking.

How I teach is very different from how I was taught.  As I entered into college I began to work more in collaborative situations.  I often entered these situations with dread, though, because I was so used to working independently.  As I started working with others I felt the usual fear of, “Oh, no.  I am going to have to do all the work again.”  However, the more I worked in groups, the more I realized that with clear expectations and guidance from the instructor, collaborative work could really benefit me as a learner.  Now, as an educator I am able to provide experiences for my students to work collaboratively in a safe and fun learning environment.

4 Key Components of a Collaborative Classroom taken from What Is the Collaborative Classroom?

  1. Shared knowledge among teachers and students
  2. Shared authority among teachers and students
  3. Teachers as mediators
  4. Heterogeneous groupings of students


(Tinzmann, M.B., Jones, B.F., Fennimore, T.F. & et. al, 1990).


Most of these key components were not part of my classroom as I moved through elementary school and into middle and high school.  As I mentioned previously, my teacher gave us information as we were expected to learn it.  In today’s society, students want to learn by collaborating with their teachers; teachers can provide ideal learning situations for their students and the students can then construct meaning for math, reading, and/or whatever they may be studying.


The second key component discussed is that teachers and students share authority.  This is very different than when I was in school.  Very rarely did I get to set goals or help decide how I learned.  I did get to participate in a gifted program during 6th grade.  During this program I was able to choose a topic for my independent study project.  This was probably one of the most valuable experiences of my 6th grade year because I got to pick my topic and set my own goals as I progressed throughout the project.  My daughter was able to do something similar to this, though more in depth during her 6th grade year at Roger’s Park Elementary School.  She participated in a R.O.P.E.S project or Rite of Passage Experience.  She created a video of her experience and presented for a board made of community members.  This was a great experience for her.


Another key component is “the teacher acts as a mediator”.  I feel like different articles on collaborative learning keep coming back to this idea.  So rather than elaborate further I think it is safe to say that the teacher needs to allow students time to work with their peers to discuss new content while providing support when needed.  Often times I find myself acting more as a facilitator in my classroom.  Granted, I still take time to model different strategies in math, for instance, before I have my students explore on their own.


Finally, the last key component touched on in the article What Is the Collaborative Classroom? Is heterogeneous grouping.  When I was a student I don’t really remember being put in groups.  I certainly don’t remember discussing things with my “shoulder partner” or “face partner”.  In my classroom today I find myself having the students constantly interacting with me or their peers.  Students participate in things like Mix-Pair-Share or Rally Coach to ensure they are constantly engaged and working with peers.  I very rarely pair students who are low with a high student; this seems unfair to always do this to the higher student while the lower student doesn’t get to do much work.  Rather I try to use ideas I learned from Kagan trainings.  I pair high with medium students or medium-high students, and I pair low students with either medium or medium-low students.  Then the students are all engaged and I can “mediate” or “facilitate” as need be.  Most of the time the students are able to talk through everything with each other without needed much support from me.



In general my goal as a teacher is to help students discover who they are as individuals so they are able to work collaboratively in a safe and comfortable environment, (taken from my resume from 2009).


One site that I discovered that offers a technology based unit of study can be found at: https://courses.mooc-ed.org/cdl1/preview

This course offers relevant tools and resources for technology coaches and teachers, as well as anyone else who is interested in the digital learning initiative.  The course also offers a personalized way to integrate the things learned throughout the mooc into your classroom.  Finally, I like that you are able to set goals and create an action plan.  The course has already been completed and was presented by North Caroline St. University.  Other strengths of the course include a course outline, educator expectations are provided, and the course will be offered again in Fall 2014.  Another really great thing about this course is that it is FREE!  It is funded by The Friday Institute.  This course is open to anyone who is interested in the digital learning initiative.

Suggestions: The participant expectations are fairly clear, but can be made clearer with a rubric.

As I have been searching for technology based lessons I came across two great sites.  One suggests having students remix content using sites such as Glogster, ThingLink, or TED-ed.  I am really excited about the possibly of using TED-ed in the classroom.  Check out this article as well: http://facultyecommons.org/ted-ed-flipping-videos-into-interactive-lessons/




Kagan Learning Structures. [On-line]. Retrieved June 9, 2014 from www.kaganoline.com/index.php


Lambries, Sara. (2014).  My Professional Portfolio Goal 2: Human Growth and Development.

[On-line] Retrieved June 10, 2014 from http://myportfoliomathed.weebly.com/goal-2-human-development.html


Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital

 Natives.[On-line] Retrieved June 1, 2014 from      http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8


Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.

               McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.


Tinzmann, M.B., Jones, B.F., Fennimore, T.F., Bakker, J., Fine, C., & Pierce, J. (1990). What Is the

Collaborative Classroom? [On-line]. Retrieved June 10, 2014 from http://www.arp.sprnet.org/Admin/supt/collab2.htm





“Information Overload”: What can we do?

Simply writing the blog for this week leaves me with a feeling of “overload”.  “Information overload occurs when the amount of information that is available exceeds a person’s ability to process it (“he or she is receiving too much information”),” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  I feel as though I have a great many thoughts on this topic, however I am not sure how to concisely share my ideas and the ideas of others.

There is a great deal of information for parents and teachers on the subject of overload, though there is much debate as to whether or not “information overload” can actually be diagnosed as an illness. According to Palfrey and Gasser, ultimately, “Parents and teachers must work with kids to teach them the skills they will need to manage all the information that can enrich their lives in a digital era,” (2010, p. 203).  This seems to be the overlying ideal I have taken away from this week’s readings/videos.  Regardless of how one feels about the information our students/children receive, as the adults in our children’s and students’ lives, we are responsible for helping our children deal with overload and the information they receive.

So, how do we help our children deal with overload?  Palfrey and Gasser speak about the many issues with overload while Tapscott shares positive aspects of the multitude of information being thrown at people today.  Rather than side with one particular author, I relate to ideals from each text.  As is true in today’s society, we are able to construct our own meaning by pulling from many different resources.  Palfrey and Gasser discuss how, “The constant use of digital technologies can place a strain on families, friendship, and classrooms,” (2010, p. 186). Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician and mother noticed that many parents at different restaurants are more absorbed in their devices than in interactions with their children.  The Boston University Medical Center went to different fast-food restaurants in the Boston area and observed 55 interactions of anonymous “non-participants”.  The researchers noticed how these non-participants failed to respond to their children’s requests for attention, simply returning to their devices without responding (Pediatrics as cited by Bowerman, Mary, 2014). Teachers and parents can help alleviate this problem by leading by example.  Parents can achieve this by setting aside a time when all digital devices are set aside, enjoying a dinner sans devices, or by refusing to answer texts while driving.

Other ways to deal with information overload are: focusing less time on each piece of information; using filtering devices such as accessing only scholarly journals or using search engines; or design institutions to absorb inputs such as printing online materials to eliminate distraction of technology (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  Parents and teachers can also teach students to chunk material; this is a skill that is often taught as a reading skill in most elementary programs so teaching students to apply this skill for online use should simply be an extension of chunking reading material from books/textbooks.

Besides the many “issues” brought about by information overload discussed by Palfrey and Gasser, there are many benefits to the multitude of information presented to our students and children today.  Tapscott for instance points out that by accessing information on the internet, “Instead of just numbly receiving information, they [students or children] are gathering it from around the globe with lightning speed.  Instead of just trusting a TV announcer to tell us the truth, [they] are assessing and scrutinizing the jumble of facts that are often contradictory or ambiguous,” (Tapscott, 2008, p. 98).  Not only do students have an over abundant amount of information to access, they can also explore this information collaboratively through sites such as Wiki and games which “often require cooperation with opponents to defeat a common enemy offering problems to be solved collaboratively and creatively…,” (Tapscott, 2008).  Wiki offers students the opportunity to watch information evolve as the collaborators gather more information.  This past semester I participated in my first real experience using a wiki page.  I was skeptical at first but actually learned a great deal and was amazed by how much the high school students  and our grad class learned by working with each other to create a wiki page.  I know a few of us were in this class last semester, but if you haven’t checked out our wiki page here it is: http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/ ).  As I consider how students can help educators I find myself reflecting on what Tapscott pointed out in his interview with Wesley Weisberg (not certain of the spelling) saying that, “Teachers need humility to allow the kids to lead to some extent,” (retrieved online from http://edet635uas.weebly.com/week-three.html).  As teachers and parents we need to be willing to lead sometimes and allow our children and students to help guide us at other times.  Providing guidance for our children as they deal with “information overload” is certainly important, still as our children/students become more and more tech savvy, we as educators/parents can learn a great deal by allowing our students to help us navigate technology.


Finally, as I was researching for this week’s blog posting I came across another text blog suggesting another text that contradicts Palfrey and Gasser’s thoughts on being “Born Digital”.  Steven Poole discusses how Nicholas Carr views the overload of information people receive from the internet in his book, The Shallows.




Bowerman, Mary. (2014). Kids not the only ones guilty of too much screen time. USA Today. Retrieved

online from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/10/caregivers-mobile-device-use/6174023/


Gamifi-ED Wiki Page. (2014) Retrieved online from http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/


Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.

               [On-line] Retrieved June 1, 2014 from: http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8


Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.

               McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.


Poole, Steven. (2010). The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr, discussed by Steven Poole. Retrieved online from