Young people & museums

Notions of class and ‘digital natives’

Norm Friesen from Simon Fraser University questions the whole notion of a ‘net generation’ (or as we might say, drawing on Marc Prensky, ‘digital natives’), drawing to the fore issues of class rather than age.

This is the first in his E-Learning Myths series where he aims to dispel, or at least, challenge many of the ideas which he sees as underpinning ideas of e-learning.

Recent sociological and governmental studies paint quite a different picture of this same generation. Often focusing specifically on the Internet, they report –similar to the sources above– that “children and young people [are generally] claiming greater online self-efficacy and skills than…their parents” (Livingstone, Bober & Helsper, 2005; 3: emphasis added). However, they do not take these claims at face value, and universalize them to youth in general. Instead, this research emphasizes, for example, that the complex skills needed to effectively utilize the Internet are distributed not only by age, but also by “gender and socio-economic status” (Livingstone, Bober & Helsper, 2005; 3). One of the most important predictors for these differences is class –with middle class children more “likely to experience the Internet as a rich, if risky, medium than less priveged children (Livingston, & Bober, 2004; 415).

Friesen’s site contains a lot of his academic publications including an interesting contestation of the idea of ‘learning objects’.

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