We recently came across a very interesting read from the EDUCAUSE e-book on Educating the Net Generation. The piece is titled, "The Student's Perspective" and it was written in 2005 by a student at North Carolina State University. The piece takes a look at what it is like to be a student of the Net Generation on a college campus where the faculty and the campus itself may be less digitally focused than the students. It notes, “I am a member of the Net Generation. I've surfed the Web since the age of 11, and it has increasingly taken over every facet of my personal and academic existence. I can barely recall making plans before the advent of IM and have rarely attended a campus meeting without setting it up over e-mail first. I get my news, my weather, my directions–even my clothes–from the Web. And, as my peers and I continue to flood the gates of the nation's colleges and universities, I am a puzzle to many of the faculty and administrators who will try to teach me. They will either try too hard to transform education into the virtual language I understand or too little to accommodate for the differences between us. Just as with past generations, however, all that is required is a basic understanding of what being a Net Gener really means and how it translates to the classroom.”
The piece goes on to talk about how the younger generations preparing to enter college will be even more digitally focused. “The next generation of learners, therefore, will only raise more questions on college campuses. Their lives will be more reliant on technology, their attention spans that much shorter. They will have little concept of checkbooks and scant recollection of landline telephones. Their needs and their values will require a reevaluation of the concepts noted here and a fresh look at the needs and expectations of our nation's college freshmen. By then, the Net Generation will be relics of the first generation of Internet youth, when the Web was still new, page loading still slow, and telephones still in use.”
The piece is very well written and worth a read. It has been just four years since it was published but you can already see how technology has changed since that time. While instant messaging was a primary communication tool a few years ago, students now rely on several tools to keep in touch with their friends including: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging. And, while the author was 11 when she started surfing the web, today’s college freshman have probably been surfing the web for as long as they can remember.