In his new book, Rewired, Professor Larry Rosen tackles an intriguing subject: the “iGeneration.” The younger brothers and sisters of today’s twentysomethings, the iGeneration is the first generation of what Dr. Rosen calls “digital natives.” In other words, this generation, who are now entering their teen and tween years, has only ever known a world where technology is so commonplace that it is a given part of everyday life. They are growing up in a time when the internet, smartphones, and social networks are as normal to them as the sun and the moon. They are connected, they are social, they are nonstop multitaskers, and they are gearing up to take on the world. The only problem is, the world is not quite ready for them yet.
In Rewired, Dr. Rosen carefully outlines the current gap between how today’s kids are taking to learning and technology, and an educational system that is lagging far behind them. They have been born in an age where they are always connected, for better or for worse, and do not have the patience for an educational system that has not adapted to their times. They want access to whatever they want, whenever they want it and wherever they are, and Dr. Rosen argues that in order to best serve this new generation, the entire educational system needs to adapt to their new plugged-in way of learning and embrace a more immersive educational curricula that incorporates teaching tools with today’s modern technologies. It will require a shift in how the education model is viewed, where the teacher’s role is no longer that of simply instructor and content provider, but is one more like that of a content facilitator and analyzer, where school is built around multitasking rather than unitasking, and where students learn as much from each other while they are outside of the classroom as they do from their teacher while they are inside of the classroom.
At face value, this idea seems like it would be a hard sell. But Dr. Rosen carefully outlines his arguments in this book, and dissects the various methods through which educators can take advantage of the very technologies that kids are so quick to embrace in order to engage them in new and exciting ways. Topics in his book range from how video games and virtual worlds like Second Life can be used as a supplement for in-class discussion, to how social networks like Facebook can be used to facilitate class interaction for socially shy kids, to how texting and writing blogs can actually encourage better writing skills in students. He also addresses some sensitive and hot-button issues, like how to protect kids while using social networks for school, and how the use of texting in class can facilitate discussion, to how the socio-economic disparities that exist between school districts nationwide can be overcome so that all kids are keeping up with modern technologically-based teaching tools.
In Rewired, Dr. Rosen argues that while some of these changes may be difficult to implement, they are necessary if America’s educational system is to best serve her students. Today’s iGeneration kids have embraced technology like no other generation before them, and this book shows how, and why, today’s educators need to do the same.
Larry D. Rosen is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills with 25 years of research experience on the impact of technology on children, adolescents, young adults, parents, school teachers, and business people in more than 30 countries. He is the author of Me, MySpace, and I: Parenting the Net Generation and Technostress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play.