Thursday, October 02, 2008

Born Digital Students

There's a good interview in today's Inside Higher Education about approaches educators might take in dealing with today's "born digital" students. The interviewees, John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, are co-authors of the new book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. We haven't received the book yet, so I cannot comment on the content, but I was interested to see that some of Palfrey's examples came from legal education, not surprising since he is a vice dean at Harvard Law School, where his duties include directing the law library. Palfrey and Gasser are opposed to classroom bans on laptop use, but believe that there are times when closing the laptops and engaging "in an intense Socratic-style dialogue with the professor or a structured discussion with peers..." is the most effective way to learn. I was also interested in Gasser's observation that because of their early experience with the Internet, born digital students are more engaged with information than students of the last generation. Palfrey and Gasser agree that libraries need to do a better job of making electronic resources available to users, and I think that's a fair criticism. They also say that librarians need to teach students and faculty how to "use...both rivers and oceans of information," and I think this is something that librarians, especially law librarians, are already doing, and quite effectively in many cases. I'm looking forward to reading the book.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

I'm intrigued by the distinction between rivers and oceans of digital info. Hmmm. are there tides in the oceans of information? Are there tsunamis? Floods? Sandbars? What an interesting metaphor to run away with! Having lived along the Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi Rivers (well, I sort of stretch my living a bit) and now the Atlantic Ocean, this is very thought-provoking!