Review of Rewired

Between 2008 and 2011, I wrote several brief reviews of books which appeared on the Education Review web site. Since then, the editors ceased publication of that type of review and removed the previously published brief reviews from the site. I am making the original drafts of my reviews available here.

Rosen, Larry. (2010). Rewired: Understanding the igeneration and the way they learn. New York: Palmgrave Macmillian.

ISBN: 9780230614789

Larry Rosen joins the chorus calling for K-12 school reform based on the evidence that children in the 21st century are a technology-savvy population and that 21st century culture is technology-rich, but that 21st century curriculum and instruction is neither. Although the theme is familiar, and the evidence cited is familiar, Rosen does add to the evolving discussion.

The generations born since computers became available have been given various names, and Rosen uses igeneration to describe the generation born since 1990. The igeneration comprises individuals who are voracious media consumers, content creators, and users of social networks; these characteristics are shared with the previous digital generation (and with digital immigrants from non-digital generations), and the first chapter of this book reviews how 20th century schools were (and continue to be) ill-suited for the needs of these generations. In the second chapter, thirteen characteristics of igeneration are reviewed, and these are similar to other recent works (Palfrey & Gasser, 2009; Tapscott, 2009).

In chapters three and four, Rosen describes two features of the igeneration that differentiate this generation from previous digital generations: their collective ability to multitask and their use of wireless mobile devices (WMD’s). Rosen follows with a description of three educational implications that arise from these defining features of the igeneration. The generation’s constant access to social networks provides the opportunity for inclusive dialogue and discussion, the opportunity to leverage students’ creativity, and the motivation for teaching media literacy.

The book ends with a consideration of concerns and barriers (which were noticeably absent in the first seven chapters) and Rosen argues for “rewiring education.” In the chapters on barriers, Rosen makes familiar recommendations (e.g. providing professional development for teachers) that are obligatory in books arguing for an increased role of technology in education but that seem to have been ineffective for decades. There is good and new advice in the list of recommendations (e.g. assess teacher’s attitudes towards technology and develop new skills based on WMD’s), but the new insights are lost in a laundry list of frequently given recommendations. I found myself wishing Rosen had given more detail on new ideas and ignored those that are so familiar.

In general, the book contains some new contributions to the very important literature advising educators on the need for new pedagogy. Those new contributions, however, are included with other recommendations that, while necessary, are not new. The unique characteristics of the igeneration and the technology they use are made clear in this book; the nature of the education that will serve the igeneration is outlined. The details of how all of this will change classroom practice has yet to be resolved. Rosen does point readers in the right direction and makes readers aware of what will be necessary to fill in those details.


Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2009). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown up digital: How the net generation is changing our world. New York: McGraw-Hill.