I went to a session at NECC by Doug Johnson called “Classrooms and Libraries for the Net Gen” that I really enjoyed. I read Doug’s blog, but had never seen him speak before. He is a great presenter.
The session focused on various characteristics of the Net Gen and the consequences of those for schools. Here are some observations I took away from the session:
- Doug reeled off a long list of statistics of how the Net Gen is different from boomers or even Gen X. This made me feel old, but also to be happy to be living in a time of so much excitement, energy, and positive change.
- Students in the Net Gen WANT TO LEARN. They just may want to learn different content and with different methods than schools traditionally offer.
- It was suggested that the Dewey Decimal system is losing relevance. (This inspired defensive indignation in the crowd of mostly library media specialists in the audience.) Doug talked about user/student-generated tags as a more relevant system of organization. This is definitely a trend at NECC this year. Are organizations beginning to tag analog content like library books?
- Like others here, Doug encouraged us to be more flexible in allowing students to bring electronic devices, like iPods, handhelds, and even cell phones, to school. Again this is a theme here this year. Doug suggested including students on school and district planning committees to help administration understand the new paradigms of learning of this generation.
- On the subject of filtering, Doug says, “Safety comes from education, not blocking.” Doug’s site and handouts give some thoughtful ideas for how his district is handling these issues.
- Physical place is important. Schools need to be more comfortable and even fun environments. It strikes me that this could be done for little or no cost. I was at a university earlier this week that has done a lot of things like adding nicer student spaces, etc. while simultaneously generating revenue for the school. An associate dean there pointed out to me a Starbucks in the library and said that, while students love it, the librarians were not so happy with it.
- Librarians have a central role to play in information literacy and learning in the future.
See his web page for more thought-provoking details.