Publication Date

June 2015


Marc Prensky, who popularized the term “digital natives” more than ten years ago, now emphasizes the need for “digital wisdom”: using digital technologies wisely to become wiser. Recent research reveals that so-called digital natives are often “digital naïves”—familiarity with digital technologies does not translate into facility with them. Incoming college students report declining confidence in their computer skills and report very modest improvements by the time they graduate. Employers report deficiencies in the technological skills of college graduates and, perhaps most troubling, studies of youth and young adults show that ethical and moral reasoning does not extend much beyond self-protection. The more we learn about our future, current, and recent students, the clearer it is that many are not equipped to use digital technologies wisely to become wiser people. In 2011, the Seattle Pacific University Library established a new service area for students called the Tech Desk. Initially intended as a place where students could get help with and access to new technologies needed for academic work, this program area quickly became an incubator for ideas and innovations around meeting students’ technological needs. Responding to observations and feedback, including important insights gained through a survey conducted in 2014, the authors have been evolving a conceptual and practical approach to digital wisdom to enhance our students’ academic, vocational, and spiritual development. This paper summarizes what we have learned about our students’ needs and interests, the theological framework we are using to respond to these, and the curricular and co-curricular changes we are pursuing.

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