Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Digital Natives

Today I heard the term "digital natives" for the first time. I suppose it's not so surprising that I hadn't heard the term before, seeing as I myself am not a digital native.

What is a digital native? Rather, the question is "who?" A digital native is a person who has grown up entirely in a world rife with digital things: computers, cell phones, iPods, &c. As a result of coming of age in a digital environment, digital natives are those people for whom doing things digitally isn't just an option, but the norm. (Some people have evidently defined digital natives as those born in 1988 or later; thus why I didn't include myself as a digital native.)

Digital natives are going to be much more comfortable with the idea of reading a blog than digital immigrants. Digital immigrants are going to consider digital mediums for their needs before they consider traditional ones; you know how everyone keeps talking about the demise of the print newspaper? Well, when readers are used to digital...

Get the picture?

I read this interesting article that talks a bit about how our education system isn't set up to educate digital natives; at least, not to a point where we help them achieve their aptitude. Example: now it isn't if students use calculators, but how. That's a pretty big shift in perspective.

Which gets me to wondering: how do I, as a librarian, integrate the idea of the digital native into my work? How to I help children achieve intellectual curiosity and information literacy when their tech-savvy is pretty much always going to outstrip mine? Will the goals of intellectual curiosity and information literacy even stay the same?

It's definitely something I'm going to think about.

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