So-Called ‘Digital Natives’ Not Media Savvy – NYTimes.com

July 30, 2010 at 9:45 am 7 comments

I’ve heard many teachers and faculty talk about their current students as “digital natives” who have uncanny facility with modern technology.  Some teachers have asked me if teaching these students computer science at an introductory level even makes sense, given their acumen with the technology.  The reality is that use is not the same as understanding, and ability to consume media is not the same as the ability to produce media.

The study discussed below in the NYTimes highlights that digital natives may not even be good consumers of media.  They don’t question the sources of the material they’re consuming.  Andrea Forte explored similar issues of information literacy in her work exploring how students cited sources and built arguments for their positions in wiki spaces.

It’s synchronicity that today Georgia Tech is highlighting the Glitch Game Project in their Digital Lounge pages.  The Glitch project, by Betsy diSalvo and Amy Bruckman, deals directly with one of these consumer/producer dichotomies: African-American teen men are among the most game-playing demographics in American society, yet they’re among the least represented in computer science programs.  Being interested in playing the technology doesn’t equate with interest or facility in making the technology.  Betsy’s great insight is that learning to be game-testers is a terrific bridge from game-player to game-maker.  In a sense, Betsy is teaching her students exactly the issue of information literacy discussed in the NYTimes piece below — it’s about having a critical eye about the technology.

So, to all those teachers worried about being made obsolete by digital natives, rest easy.  You have a LOT to teach them.

A new study coming out of Northwestern University, discovered that college students have a decided lack of Web savvy, especially when it comes to search engines and the ability to determine the credibility of search results. Apparently, the students favor search engine rankings above all other factors. The only thing that matters is that something is the top search result, not that it’s legit.

During the study, one of the researchers asked a study participant, “What is this website?” The student answered, “Oh, I don’t know. The first thing that came up.”

via So-Called ‘Digital Natives’ Not Media Savvy, New Study Shows – NYTimes.com.

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