Monday, 13 October 2014

The myth of the digital native

Blog post from Nathan Walsh, Christchurch Boys' High School, Christchurch

Digital native is a term used to describe the technology savvy generation of students who are presently in our classrooms. Some teachers feel uncomfortable at the prospect of teaching with technology and terms such as ‘digital natives (students) and digital immigrants (teachers)’ often add to the discomfort. However, in my experience students are not necessarily savvy with using technology for learning. Recently I showed my Year 10 Commerce class how and why you would want to save a document to the cloud. Most students took quite some time to get to grips with how to do it and the some had never thought of the advantages of saving work in this way.

The terms digital natives and digital immigrants were created in 2001 by Mark Prensky – an American writer and public speaker. Prensky’s terms of digital native and digital immigrant have been widely discredited in educational research. Sue Bennett’s paper from 2012 states “Closer examination of Prensky’s arguments … reveals little in way of evidence to substantiate his claims. He relies on anecdotes, conjecture and speculation.”

When encouraging staff to teach with technology it may be beneficial to point out that there is no evidence that today's students are any more technology savvy than those of any other generation.

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  1. An important reminder, Nathan! Sometimes it is easy to assume that every child in our class is super tech savvy. They are certainly more at ease and more likely to take risks with technology than many adults but that is attitudinal rather than skills.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Bridget C-M

  2. Nathan - I agree with you. Although many teachers may feel they are not as "tech savy"
    as their students it is always about using the tools for learning. And perhaps there is the opportunity to have shared knowledge in the classroom and learn from each other. We are all on learning journeys as we start to engage in the digital world.
    Pauline H.