Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: The App Generation

Title: The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World
Author: Howard Gardner, Katie Davis

I couldn't resist a book about technology written by the Multiple Intelligences mastermind.  

I really enjoyed this book, but I must say it was not an easy one to read. While I enjoy reading pop non-fiction, this one was written more like a college textbook -- which I have not read in a very long time. 

The authors spent considerable time investigating changes over the years. For instance, the way we think of generations has changed dramatically. While it used to relate to major worldwide events (The Great Depression, WWII, Cold War, etc), we now think in terms of major technological shifts.  Likewise, they spent time discussing major schools of thought in educational philosophies.  

Next, they looked into how the digital age has changed the way students think and act, zeroing in on how three different people from three distinct generations view and use technology. I was surprised to see how students today tend to view life in terms of "apps." Since each app does something different, it is easy to compartmentalize life into different "apps." Students also seem to view school assignments more along the lines of "Just tell me what to do to succeed" rather than "I'm going to do my best on this." 

Finally, Gardner looked at how the behaviorist and the constructivist can each use apps to teach, but the kinds of apps they use would be vastly different. Not surprisingly, I agreed with his assessment of these apps and how they should be used in schools. Students should be using these tools to create new things rather than merely play games to practice rote skills. (See this old post to see my view on creation vs consumption.)

Overall, I'm glad I read the book. It's to know that a leading educational mind confirmed that I'm barking up the right tree in respect to how I approach teaching and learning to the App Generation. 

Have you read the book? What did you think? 

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