This morning, Elon University and the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report about the cognitive future of the millennial generation. Based on surveys with more than 1,000 thought leaders -- among them danah boyd, Clay Shirky, David Weinberger, and Alexandra Samuel -- the survey asked thinkers to consider how the Internet and its environment are changing, for better or worse, kids' cognitive capabilities.
The survey found, overall, what many others already have: that neuroplasticity is, indeed, a thing; that multitasking is, indeed, the new norm; that hyperconnectivity may be leading to a lack of patience and concentration; and that an "always on" ethos may be encouraging a culture of expectation and instant gratification.
The study's authors, Elon's Janna Anderson and Pew's Lee Rainie, also found, however, another matter of general consensus among the experts they surveyed: that our education systems will need to be updated, drastically, to suit the new realities of the intellectual environment. "There is a palpable concern among these experts," Rainie puts it, "that new social and economic divisions will emerge as those who are motivated and well-schooled reap rewards that are not matched by those who fail to master new media and tech literacies." As a result: "Many of the experts called for reinvention of public education to teach those skills and help learners avoid some of the obvious pitfalls of a hyper-connected lifestyle."