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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.”