The title of this entry links to an article that brings to mind all of the conversations I’ve had with friends, family, and co-workers about the idea of “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants” that was first presented by Marc Prensky. Chris Betcher of Betchablog makes a great point that stands alongside other comments made by those, like myself, who are not sold on the idea of a digital native as someone who has a natural ability to use technology in ways that are above and beyond their poor hapless teachers.
I particularly enjoyed his examples of students, as well as his own children, who would be considered “digital natives,” but do not live up to the level of expertise ascribed to “natives” by Prensky and others. The most frustrating conversations I’ve had in the last couple of years have been with other teachers or those within the field of education who just can’t believe there are children out there who aren’t excited by or aren’t experts on technology. They might be able to out-text me. They might have an iPhone and an iPod Touch at age 12 (which I still think is crazy, but I won’t rant on that just yet), while I own an iPod that’s already 2 generations old. It really doesn’t matter. They might know what a thing is, but they are certainly not light-years ahead of me in terms of understanding it or applying their knowledge to other uses for their technology.
I does bother me when teachers assume they are in a losing battle against the digital natives because everything they read tells them they will always be behind the times. Everything I’ve read or been told, by people who keep up on these things, has been pretty discouraging. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough to keep up with the students. Then I’m shocked when we can’t even create an iTunes playlist for a class project!
I’m not even sure what I would be considered. I’m old enough to remember a time before the Internet, but since my dad worked at Texas Instruments, we always had some kind of computer or technology in the house. I’m not sure if I’m a native or an immigrant. Does that make me “undocumented”? I’ve decided to give up on these labels. Most times they aren’t even true, which makes them even less helpful.
So, take heart “digital immigrants,” and move over “digital natives.” We’re all in the same boat… but it’s the immigrants who have done more traveling and understand how to steer.