Larry D. Rosen – Rewired


Does technology affect the way we think? The way we see and speak, the way we read and write, the way we make sense of the world and communicate? Many recent publications deal with these and similar questions, most notably, perhaps, the question we all want to have answered: how does the internet affect our brain?

Larry D. Rosen examines the generational differences of technology consumption and new patterns of learning, multitasking, and communicating in a world redefined by Web 2.0. As educators confront more and more bored, unfocused iGeneration students, the question becomes not “why do they hate school?” but “how do we use the technological tools available to us all to maximize the learning experience?”


Here are some of his useful insights:

Welcome to the iGeneration. While the previous generation, referred to as the Net (as in Internet) Generation, was born in the 1980s and 1990s, the iGeneration children and teens are in elementary school, middle school and high school. They spend their days immersed in a “media diet,” devouring entertainment, communication, and well, any form of electronic media. They are master multitaskers, social networkers, electronic communicators and the first to rush to any new technology. They were born surrounded by technology, and with every passing year they add more tools to their electronic repertoire. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010, p.2)

They hate school. Why? Education has not caught up with this new generation of tech-savvy children and teens. It is not that they don’t want to learn. They just learn differently. Gone are the days when students would sit quietly in class, reading a book or doing a math worksheet. Literally, their minds have changed – they have been “rewired.” With all the technology that they consume, they need more from education. The educational content is not the problem. It is the delivery method and the setting. Today’s youth thrive on multimedia, multitasking, social environments for every aspect of their lives except education. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.2)

The iGeners have redefined communication. They own cell phones, but use them more for sending text messages than talking. They blog, vlog (using video to transmit information), Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, video chat, share photos, and latch on to and embrace any new communication tool and give it their own personal spin. And they are forcing the older generation to follow suit. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.14)

Among the adults, Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) were vastly different from Generation Xers (1965-1979) in both personal values and work ethic. But the Net Generation, the oldest of whom are now turning thirty, comprises the largest and most unique of the three. Born in the 1980s and early 1990s, Net-Geners – also known as Millennials, Generation Y, the MySpace Generation, and Generation M (for media) – arrived amid the height of the technological revolution. Most Net-Geners have never experienced a world without the Internet, cell phones, video games, and more media (including countless cable TV channels) than they can possibly consume. Yet they do gobble it up, spending more hours a day using media than they do either sleep or attending school. Right behind the Net Generation is the iGeneration, named after all the available devices and websites with an “I” – iPod, iTunes, Wii, iChat, iHome, iPhone, iEverything. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.20)

Alvin Toffler’s Wave Theory, which says that crashing waves of technology are coming more and more rapidly. This theory could explain why the Baby Boomers generation lasted nineteen years, Gen X fifteen years, and the Net Generation only ten. As the pace of technology accelerates, new generations arise based on their use of new technologies. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.21)

Replace a paper and pencil with a laptop and online discussion board and you may find that even the most reserved students are strong writing contributors. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.43)

This is what Web 2.0 is all about: taking material that already exists on the web, adding material of your own creation (e.g. audio commentary, written messages), mixing it together in a unique, eye-catching, and interesting way, and posting it online for all to see and for others to comment upon. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.141)


We are living in an age of unprecedented access to information. Just twenty years ago, the Internet was used only by the government and its agencies through big, clunky computers. In 1992 the U.S. Department of Defense gave registration rights to civilians, and the Internet was born. As communication infrastructure became more sophisticated, new applications emerged. The World Wide Web was developed in 1993, making it easy for consumers to find information. The number of information sources grew, as did the Internet’s ease of use. As of 2008, the amount of technical information on the web was estimated to be doubling every two years. (Larry D. Rosen, Rewired, 2010, p.153)

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