#thattech Week 2–Net Gen Creativity, Advantage or Disadvantage?

In chapter three of Grown Up Digital, author Don Tapscott discusses the characteristics typical of today’s Net Geners.  I recognized many of these behaviors and attitudes and even found some of them to be true regarding my own traits.  One of the behaviors I find particularly irritating is the expectation that Net Geners need to be constantly entertained.  While this tends to annoy me, I sometimes will catch myself being consumed with my own devices or the Internet when I know I should be doing something more productive.

The idea, presented in the reading, that the Net Generation thinks work should be fun causes concern.  Hopefully there may always be desirable aspects of work, but one’s job cannot expect to be a thrill a minute.  Tapscott did mention “to be sure, employers who allow Net Geners to assume themselves online or wear headphones, need proper work design and polices to maximize productivity” (Tapscott, 2008).  This is a strong point when it comes to promoting choice, change and creativity with technology access to ensure something is getting done which is yielding output.  But is this all just scrutiny?

Born Digital discussed similar ideas but not in the way Tapscott approached the matter.  Authors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s literature focused more on the creativity side and what young people are doing.  They quickly noted that Digital Natives are indeed creative when it comes to online usage.  However, it is now recognizable“the extent to which this creativity represents an opportunity for learning, personal expression, individual autonomy, and political change” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  Digital Natives are the founders of their well-known mash-ups, remixes, and other such art forms.  One perspective I found thought-provoking was the idea that “remixes allow Digital Natives and others to interact with cultural objects in a way that affects how cultures develop and are understood” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  I never looked at creativity from a sense it could change the way we understand cultures.

I think there is so much involved in the world of technology and gamification that’s changing learning and education.  It is a great way to help today’s students practice their desire for choice, change and creativity. I found an interesting video demonstrating a teacher’s determination in the classroom to allow his students a rich educational environment through gaming.  By the end of the video, students are petitioning to get more technology into their schools because they are having so much fun with this method of learning.  But unfortunately we don’t always have access to the tools or resources needed to help endorse this notion.


OLTV19. (2010). Exciting New Approach to Classroom Learning! Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OSJ5LwAXxLk on May 21, 2014.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

#thattech Week 1–Who do you want to be?

In the book Born Digital co-authors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser discuss “Digital Natives,” the term they use for children born into the digital world.  They seem to be particularly concerned with the Digital Native’s identity formation and the threats posed with their every move online, throughout social media and virtual worlds.  Although they spend the majority of chapter one arguing this threat, I feel we cannot live a productive life of exploration in fear of doing something wrong or else we will never make new discoveries.

It is human nature to transform throughout many different stages of our life’s journey in discovering ourselves, who we are, and our ultimate identity.  It’s entertaining to look back at celebrities, colleagues, friends, or even family members and reminisce about the different phases they may have gone through as they were defining their identity in the moment (e.g. goth, punk, emo, hippie, etc.).  The authors point out, “the version of the identity of a Digital Native that a given onlooker sees may depend a lot on how the onlooker accesses this morphing, sprawling identity” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010, p. 35).

Many of us are guilty of sporting silly facial hair-dos, hanging chains from our belt or pants, getting tattoos or body piercings, etc.  Let’s face it, we thought it was cool…at the time!  As an onlooker in both the past and present, it’s imperative to recognize these are all important stages we must take to help uncover who we truly are as individuals.  Whether it’s online or offline, we do things to follow social norms and the internet has only accentuated this form of self-expression.  According to Marc Prensky in his book Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning:

To set the bar truly high and to seek and demand an exceptional level of creativity from students, partnering teachers have to find ways to set students free to do things “their (i.e., the students’) way” much more than we have ever done in the past (p. 154).

We must foster the development of our young people’s identity through experimentation.  How can one learn if they live a “perfect” life?  What is a perfect life?  Palfrey and Gasser point out “the Internet is a virtual laboratory for experiments in identity development” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010, p. 27).  From the Digital Immigrant’s perspective, this can be a terrifying thought.  In scientific experimental laboratories, mistakes are made all the time.  Cyber laboratories are much the same.  I do agree with Palfrey and Gasser when they mention:

Sometimes, Digital Natives misperceive such spaces as more private than they are. Or they may know very well that the spaces are public and disclose information about themselves anyway, for a range of reasons. But rarely do they have in view the full impact of their decision to disclose this information (p. 35-36).

In a perfect world, we could see clearly through a crystal ball and plan every move we make with a calculated decision.  But unfortunately life is all about taking risks; live and learn.  Hopefully we will not pass judgment on Digital Natives down the road and recognize their actions, words, and pictures were just a phase of their digital life.  They will have since moved on, just like the rest of us, and hopefully together we can laugh about the past.  Don Tapscott notes in his book Grown Up Digital, “what an extraordinary period in human history this is—for the first time the next generation coming of age can teach us how to ready our world for the future” (Tapscott, 2008, p. 8).  Let’s not hold back these Digital Natives, but rather allow them to pave their own path to new discoveries and learn real life lessons.  We can help by modeling responsible digital citizenship, but it will be up to them whether they want to follow through with their actions.


Palfrey, J., & Gasser, Urs. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of               Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.