I have been picking up lately on some new terminology being used in blog posts and relating to what has been called computer literacy in the past -- the new terms are digital natives and digital immigrants. Here is how these new terms are defined in the Wikipedia:
I'm not sure if I am totally comfortable with the notion of a "digital immigrant" having a "thick accent" by which is meant that he or she is less at ease operating in the digital world. However, I am totally certain that an individual who has grown up in the digital world makes a number of assumptions that older colleagues would not automatically make and may utilize digital technology in a different way. It is important that medical educators from older generations understand these assumptions in order to bridge the "cultural divide" between them and the group that they are teaching.
For me, the most important of these assumptions on the part of pathology residents is that the web is the first place to which they will turn to acquire information about, say, a challenging case encountered in a surgical pathology reading room. I have had senior faculty colleagues express surprise to me that their residents and fellows will walk past a book shelf loaded with authoritative pathology text books and atlases and turn to on-line pathology resources for assistance in such circumstances. Many of the digital resources that they turn to may have been developed by experts in the field but, to my colleagues, they seem to lacked the weight of the hardcopy books and atlases.
What I personally take away from this brief discussion is that some priority should be assigned to making our most authoritative textbooks and atlases accessible in electronic form on the web as soon as possible for the increasing number of "digital natives" in pathology. I have posted a number of previous notes about e-textbooks (see: Some Ideas About the Future of Medical Textbooks; PathCONSULT: A Web-Enabled Surgical Pathology Atlas; Networked Textbooks in Pathology and Lab Medicine).