Science Careers Blog

January 5, 2009

Going Native ... er, Digital

While reviewing this week's article "Smarter Than the Average Desk" I had to ask what the term "digital natives" meant. The answer, once you hear it, is obvious: 'digital natives' are the youngish people who grew up surrounded by digital technology. In the article, we note that scientists, engineers, and educators are designing classroom technology that must meet the needs of these digital natives, who have been exposed to electronic gadgets and fast-paced multimedia since birth.

On his blog Zero Percent Idle, Tim Windsor elaborates on digital natives by excerpting from Don Tapscott's book Grown Up Digital. This new generation (or 'Net Generation,' as Tapscott says) wants freedom in everything they do, loves to customize and personalize their technology, and seeks entertainment in all aspects of life: work, education, and social life. These are the factors that those in education technology have to keep in mind when creating devices and learning technologies meant to captivate their audiences.

These characteristics will be on display as this generation enters the workforce; for example, this cohort is used to constant socializing and collaborating through social networking sites and online projects. Understanding these generational characteristics will be important for employers who want to recruit and maintain their workforce. We discussed these issues in last year's article, "The Truth About Gen Y."
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