Being an avid reader of books and a person who was raised and educated during the 70s and 80s, I have a strong appreciation and respect for textbooks and the didactic format of learning. That's why I was shocked and very concerned to hear my colleagues who work in nursing academia describe how very few of their students actually purchase textbooks. My prejudice is explained in the 2001 article in which Marc Prensky coined the terms digital natives and digital immigrants. Prensky describes how digital immigrants, like myself, were educated using traditional methods based on the limited technology of the time. We had lecture, rote memorization, and lots of textbook reading. We digital immigrants were exposed to computer technology later in our educational development and in many cases during our careers. However, digital natives are the young people who have never known a world without microcomputer technology. They have always had Nintendo's Game Boy, X-Box, and PlayStation, quickly and adeptly acquire the skills to operate the new gadgets that support learning including notebook computers, Smart Boards, and Smart Phones.
From an educator perspective this is great...but how do we teach students and train new grads if they don't read the books? The answer is that while digital natives are not purchasing print books, they are purchasing e-books and accessing the much broader range of published resources available on the internet. One concern that we must be able to address is that we need to teach students about what sources of information are more scholarly, reliable, and credible. Another way to supplement lecture is to reinforce learning by giving students and trainees the opportunity to learn by experience and problem-solving. Now that these educational needs of digital natives have been recognized, schools of nursing have been employing the use of computer-based training, serious games, and simulators to support the educational needs of our younger professionals.