This paper reports the first phase of an ESRC funded research project to investigate first year students’ use of technology in relation to the idea of young people born after 1983 forming a distinct age cohort described variously as the Net generation or Digital Natives. The research took place in five English universities in the spring of 2008. The research found a far more complex picture than that suggested by the rhetoric with student use of new technologies varying between different universities and courses. Some of the more discussed new technologies such as blogs, wikis and virtual worlds were shown to be less used by students than might have been expected. The Net generation appears if anything to be a collection of minorities with a small number of technophobic students and larger numbers of others making use of new technologies but in ways that did not fully correspond with many of the expectations built into the Net generation and Digital Natives theses
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