To Be or Not To Be….a Digital Native?

In this week’s reading, there is a notion that students today are considered “digital natives” because they have grown up surrounded by computers and video games. It is believed by one of the authors, Prensky, that the students of today (the Digitial Natives) have different “thinking patterns” versus previous generations, such as the Baby Boomers.

I am of the generation that is considered “Generation X.” There were not many computers when I went to school. My first computer lab was in 8th grade and “Oregon Trail” was da bomb! LOL  My school still had a Typing Class, not a Keyboarding Class….and yes there is a difference! So, to suffice it to say I did not get much training on computers until my college years and beyond. Therefore, more of my teachers and my own learning required me to use actual books and dig for answers.  Now, I say all of this because I don’t think today’s students have a different thinking pattern they just have a new way of gathering answers. This is why it so important for teachers to change their instructional strategies in the classroom. Not because they think differently but because their way of searching is different.

I know this to be true just from observing my own classes. Students would much rather scour several different websites versus sit in a library and find books on their subject. Also, there is the instant gratification that is prevalent in today’s students….thank you Google. Many strategies have a kind of “entertainment” value. I know for my own classrooms I have looked for such items as a YouTube video, Powtoons, or something else animated to use in the classroom versus me just handing out the information for them to copy.

So, on the notion of Digital Natives…I agree and disagree. I disagree with Prensky when he said, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” (2001, Pg. 1). I think our educational system is designed to teach all students no matter what generation they were born. I do think they are digital natives because of the different instructional strategies that need to be employed by educators to reach today’s students. The use of more technology whether it is different hardware, software, or applications replace yesterdays pen, paper, encyclopedia, dictionary, etc.

Comment below and let me know what you think!

 

References:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

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8 thoughts on “To Be or Not To Be….a Digital Native?

  1. Jaci – I really liked your post about this week’s readings. Your comment that students do not have a new way of thinking, but instead a new way of gathering answers really made me think. I think a lot of it has to do with the instant gratification and entertainment value like you mentioned. As a librarian I work with students who would rather search Google than use the available library databases to find information on their topics. Google is fast and easy. Library databases can be overwhelming and difficult to use especially if you can’t seem to find the right keywords. Similarly, students spend a lot of time on YouTube and social media tools. They are constantly being entertained by things available on the internet. This transfers into the classroom. Students expect to be entertained or at the very least interested in what they are learning. Like you said, it is our job to come up with engaging instructional strategies that will capture their attention. In my case I am constant looking for new and interesting ways to teach information literacy skills. Sometimes I wonder though, can I really make that interesting? Thanks for the post!

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    • Hey Kelly,
      I think you do have a tougher job. Literacy skills are not something that can be “easily” obtained. My mother used to get on to me when my kids were younger because they had more toys that made sounds and had lights. That were the toys they gravitated towards. However, I see her point, kids need to also have toys that make them think, use their imagination, and does not supply that instant gratification reward. As a teacher, I understand this a whole lot more.

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  2. Hi Jaci,

    Although I do not consider myself one, I am part of the “Millenial” generation. I remember playing Oregon Trail in 1st grade and trying to get my party to the promised land before everyone died of dysentery! I find myself falling into your camp of “agree and disagree”. I wouldn’t be in an educational technology program if I didn’t think technology could yield higher quality learning opportunities. I also don’t believe that our brains have been “rewired” as Prensky suggests. Our educational system does work, in fact, it is probably needed now more than ever! As someone who grew up with Nintendo, the Internet, cell phones, etc. I can honestly say that I am able to learn with or without technology…although use of pictures and video always helped me and the ability of technology to stimulate the senses makes it much more appealing in my opinion.

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    • Learning with and without technology is becoming a rare breed in schools. I love technology, and like you, I wouldn’t be seeking this degree if I didn’t think it was important.But I do have to say, students are having more trouble learning without technology. I think this is a problem. I think we need to find some kind of balance, otherwise, we are doing a disservice to our students.

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  3. I like your point that it isn’t the people that are changing, it is the tools that are changing. I remember being in middle school and my teacher telling us we had to have at least three book sources as well as websites and I thought it was SO dumb! It was harder for me to use a library than it was for me to type into Google what it was I wanted to know. I agree that part of it is the instant gratification that people get from using a search engine, but I also think that it is all that our current students know. I don’t think our education system is too antiquated for today’s learners, but I do think that some of the teachers need to embrace some change and realize that there are new expectations for the students now that weren’t there 20 years ago. This does not mean implement video games and make everything digital, it means that you need to teach to your clientele and know who your students are and what is best for them.

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    • See, I am of the same mind that students need to learn how to use Google as well as actual reference books. Everything on Google is not always easy to decipher to be true or not. This leads to students not taking the time to search out what is real and not real. That is why I like to also incorporate reference texts. Plus, I believe we need to help keep libraries alive. =) #Ifeltoldtypingthat LOL

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  4. I LOVED Oregon Trail, and it makes me sad that the kids have no clue what fun it was to type those silly epitaphs. On a nostalgic note, Target sells a card game version, but I am not sure how fun that would be. Probably as much fun as straddling the tech generational lines. You mentioned typing class versus keyboarding. Trust me, you didn’t miss much. Sadly, my ninth grade year, I had to take typing, and the subsequent year we got computers and were told we had to take keyboarding as the requirements changed! UGH! All that correct tape drama for nothing. I learned almost the same skills, but the speed with which I was able to complete tasks increased. I share this in the support for your point that learners haven’t changed, more so it’s the tools. However, I feel that digital nativism is a myth, or rather dependent upon your measuring stick. I have found that most of my 1:1 students are fluent in social media, gaming, and the entertainment side, yet they can barely utilize the most basic tools at their disposal on their Macbooks for academic purposes. I’ll never forget the day that my students learned to use the dictionary/thesaurus application on the Mac. They never knew it was there or how helpful it is. It just blew my mind at how much and how little they know about their tech.

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    • I agree! My undergrad is in Business/Marketing Education and I wish there was a class in 5th or 6th that taught the basic tools on a computer! I know there is a technology aspect in all COS but due to time constraints, many teachers only teach what they need to in order to get the lesson completed. I feel we are doing the kids a disservice by not teaching them how to work and use a pc efficiently!

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