Much as television changed the way Americans get information and children learn, the internet is now revolutionizing student expectations again. The author defines the “Net Generation” as children born after 1977 who see computers and the internet as familiar elements of their education and entertainment.
Here are characteristics of Net Generation students, according to the author:
• Greater technological proficiency than their teachers or parents;
• Love of the internet, perhaps more than television (a real generational differentiation!);
• Expectation that school/library technology will be at least as good as home technology;
• Expectation that learning will be “fun” (similar to youngsters of the previous generation coming into school after a steady diet of Sesame Street);
• Demand for customization and flexibility in educational course design;
• Desire for immediate answers;
• Unwillingness to memorize vast amounts of information that can easily be accessed online; and
• Global awareness.
Since the internet is such a society-changing development, school administrators might be tempted to ensure that all students understand how to use a computer and surf the web. But the author says students today already have those skills, and educators must focus on higher-level activitiesi.e., integrating the web into formerly book-based courses. Courses should be more hands-on and less based on lecture. This will require a rejection of the one-size-fits-all model and attempts to have students learn “all there is to learn” on a subject that have been in place in so many schools for decades.