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Digital Natives

i drkhturner
Category: Technology
Date: 03/01/2012
Tags: technology, education
?

Prensky (2001) introduced the term "digital native" to the education community a decade ago.  Some people have taken issue with the concept.  Others have embraced the term, making Prensky's work foundational to understanding the landscape of teaching and learning in the contemporary world.  Where do you stand?  Do digital natives exist?

posted by drkhturner | suggest edit

Yes

Digital Natives

No

Digital Natives

DEBATE

add your argumensts in favor or against the issue

arguments supporting the issue
arguments against the issue

Digital natives exist.

posted by drkhturner | suggest edit

If digital natives are people who were immersed in particular digital technologies during their formative years, then yes, they exist. The challenge is that they may see these same technologies as "natural"--and that they may not be as skilled, self-aware, or critical in their use of the technologies as we might assume they would be. (Maybe their like fish in water that way....)

posted by lzuidema | suggest edit

I think it is convenient to create a term to define a population such as digital natives. However, just like any other group name, it is both a stereotype in that is simplifies the population into something that is easier to understand. Thus the argument supporting the issue is that it allows us to define an otherwise undefined group. Arguments against is that it stifles the populations within that group to certain expectations.

posted by Leu | suggest edit

I agree that "digital natives" do have an advantage when it comes to being capable with new technologies. However, I believe that learning these skills are not that complicated. People born in a "digital age" have become more reliant and thus more dependent on these technologies. However, their dependency leaves them with a higher awareness of how to use it.

posted by cafinc05 | suggest edit

The points presented by Prensky on Digital Natives are very well taken and resonate with me. Some of his points could hold some validity; however, I am still skeptical and would like to further investigate the evidence. Technological advancements have take the world by storm and it appears to be evolving and changing daily. The term Digital Natives maybe describing a phenomenon that is occurring that no one has been able to grab yet, due to the recent and fairly new literature.

posted by GPR135 | suggest edit

Digital natives do not exist.

posted by drkhturner | suggest edit

The idea of associating any specific time (born after 1960s) with the concept makes it questionable or too simplistic. The digital world is a continuously evolving space and being a native suggests that you will also be growing with it. Does it really happen with people?

posted by Kamanashish Roy | suggest edit

Digital Technology started in 60's, thats right but its developing always. Many evolutionary inventions have been made in this decade or last and may be some more outstanding ones will be made near future. So who are born in recent years are also growing up with learning and using these technologies may be without knowing it. So its all about the definition of the term "Digital Natives". If its bounded in some particular 'time line'.. it doesn't EXIST.

posted by Rishav Patra | suggest edit

The term "digital native" is misleading and constructs false assumptions that older generations hold less knowledge/intellect and are less capable relative to younger generations who have merely automatically been immersed into digital technologies.

posted by christinepeters | suggest edit

Digital natives presumes that there is continued access to technology from a young age. This is not the case for all children, and would instead apply more aptly to a subset within the millennial generation.

posted by miguelatron | suggest edit

I think the term Digital Native is misleading because it presumes, mastery over certain technology while the person may only know how to use it in a topical manner. These people may be immersed in certain aspects of the particular technology but to be considered a Digital Native i believe that mastery must be attained in the particular technology.

posted by lpena175 | suggest edit

I believe the term "digital native" is not defined enough in terms of criteria, level of mastery, and components needed to determine mastery to make the term legitimate.

posted by patdepippo | suggest edit

I agree that the lack of a definition is an issue. It would make more sense to have a continuum of levels of mastery. The pace in which technology is moving and expanding leads me to believe that what is cutting edge technology today is obsolete tomorrow. Some form of digital technology has been around since the 60's.If we are to align ourselves with a static definition, we have no way to identify users of the ever expanding new technologies.

posted by hneedleman | suggest edit

The terms digital native and digital immigrant are problematic in their loaded identifying labels. Using such charged language may negatively impact those who choose to associate to either category or resist being put in either category. The terms connote those who have a natural right to occupy a space and those who have been invited to enter that space, thereby creating a hierarchical structure that reflects hegemonic values.

posted by Sb Tedrow | suggest edit

The term "digital native" was coined by a man who was 45 in 2001. Almost all of the arguments he gives for "nativeness" center around behaviors that, in 2001, would have been laughable even to someone just 10 years younger than him. Mr. Prensky is a member of the last generation of people born before the introduction of computers into homes and schools, and before the ubiquity of video games, which happened in the very early 1980s. It was my experience as a 20-something in the '90s, that many people aged 40 and up were resistant to joining the post Windows 95 computer revolution because they'd lived and worked with older, and very drab technologies of the '60s and early '70s. It's my belief that Mr. Prensky misjudged his ability to differentiate generational technology use, and did not have nearly the time or expertise to digest modern technology at the time his concept was published. Modern technology, while becoming more capable, gets incrementally easier to use every year, and all it takes is patience, time, and effort to become expert at any new technology - I know this from my own experience living through 3 distinct computing paradigms (command line, GUI, and post-Internet). After reading "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants", it irks me that he described me and most (if not all) of my peers literally as digital natives based on our behavior and technology use, while clinging to the simplistic idea that only people born after 1980 are true natives... and completely ignoring the fact that 8-bit computers and video games were actually extremely common even in the first half of the '80s.

posted by MFMargin | suggest edit

Discuss

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I am

 

I don't think digital natives/digital immigrants exists. I consider Prensky's (2001) arguments problematic. First of all, his claims concerning digital natives/immigrants lack empirical and theoretical grounds. He coined these terms simply based upon his observations of the generational differences between young people and older people, assuming there are only distinctive characteristics but no similarities. Secondly, the binary metaphors overgeneralize the role of technology in the lives of students. Young students may use different levels of technology, depending on students' socio-economic status, cultural/linguistic/ethnic background, genders, learning experience, learning styles, access, etc. The concept of homogeneity is misleading. Third, just because younger students have more exposure to technology does not mean that they are proficient in the use of technology. Also, their technological competence does not have a direct association with a desire for exclusively technology-oriented approaches to teaching and learning. We need to listen to the voices of our students as to what they really need. We should not just assume that technology is a cure-all for the problems we have encountered in education. The fundamental question that I do not understand is that why we need to label/categorize/divide people into certain groups and neglect the complex make-up of human society. Why don't we acknowledge that there are differences as well as similarities among people (maybe among teachers and students too)? I think I still want to go back to what I firmly believe and constantly reflect upon these questions: (a) What are the problems in education?; (b) What caused the problems in education?; (c) What are the possibilities and responsibilities of learners and teachers?; and if technology must be integrated, (d) What and how can we take advantage of technology in education?

Posted by ycchuang on 22/10/2013 at 07:18 PM

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I wish there were a column in the middle of YES and No in this forum. I think Prensky’s use of digital natives and digital immigrants is a spectrum in which he simply stresses the extreme polar opposites in order to make a bold statement for action and to provoke discussion. I see the spectrum from digital immigrant to digital native in the way my parents approach technology, I approach technology, my 15 year old nephew approaches it and my five year old students approach it. My parents and I are digital immigrants. We are fumbling, in different degrees to assimilate into a digital world. We try to loose our accents, but when put into social situation, in which our immigrant status can be seen more clearly, our “accents” are very thick. We have to translate meaning word for word and lack the inherent vocabulary to communicate fluently, without an accent. My nephews and my 5 year old students just “speak the language” without any accent. They are technology natives. I never see the hesitation to try something new on an I-pad, laptop, I-pod or cell phone. My nephews speak the languages of Twitter, Instagram, and Skype (is that dated already?) They do not need to translate anything; they are fluent.

Posted by John Distefano on 21/10/2013 at 04:35 PM

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While the advocate of equity in me wishes to reject these categorical identifiers, my experience with digital space forces me to favor the idea that some, more so than others, think more "naturally" in digital space. For me (one of Prensky's digital immigrants), I continue to struggle with one distinct feature of digital space: language. My attempts at using and deciphering digitalk are deliberate and laborious. And I am very cognizant of my own struggle and resistance. Learning the language of digital space may be similar to learning a second language later in life - one never uses the language quite like a native.

Posted by jragno on 20/10/2013 at 02:44 PM

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Digital natives – do they exist? I think ultimately I do not agree with the “native” vs “immigrant” status. However do see how it could be applicable, if you think about the culture shock that people feel when they first migrate into a new culture. Then you have the acculturation issues when the individual is still trying to fit in. In terms of digital native, one could go through those socio-emotional phases, the feeling that everyone is speaking another language. But the “immigrant” label is given to the older generation. Are we making the statement that age impacts your ability to fully acculturate? While research has shown that it is easier to learn new languages when you are younger, does this also apply to digital language? Also, I do not think that the digital native

Posted by jdaddino on 20/10/2013 at 10:46 AM

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While I do think that Digital Natives exist, Sarah Southall explains in her critique on Prensky that by creating a dualist view on digital competence, Prensky has created a dichotomy which serves no real purpose. As Southall explains, "Dewey attacked dualistic forms of thinking that he proposed created oppositions and conflicts, and that only served to restrict inquiry and synthesis needed for solving problems". Southall continues later on in her critique by stating that these terms, "present(s) this phenomenon as an either/or dichotomy that could perpetuate continued discontinuity between students and teachers." I think Southall's ideas that by labeling individual into certain camps can hurt the tenuous relationship between teachers, administrators, and students. By labeling teachers/students in terms that are "loaded" with meaning, Prensky is not contributing to the goal of swifter integration of technology in the classroom. Rather he is pitting two camps against each other and as Southall concludes, "limits the possibility for understanding this phenomenon, but it may also alienate the very people who are being urged to change."

Posted by suzieq18 on 20/10/2013 at 09:42 AM

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I think Digital Natives (DN) do exist in the sense that today's students are immersed in computing, gaming, media, and technology. However, I think that there a socio-economic divide in play when discussing DN. I think that students of certain SES groups are exposed to technology in their daily lives at levels never imagined only 20 years ago. This generation does look for the instant gratification of technology as well as incorporate multi-tasking skills in their everyday lives. However, on the flip side are many students who do not have access to technologies simply because they cannot afford them or do not have the ability to access them. As per our discussion in Dr. George's class, I think DN is more of a pop culture term such as a hippie or beatnik. They do exist. The question is to what degree and is that a good thing?

Posted by suzieq18 on 20/10/2013 at 09:27 AM

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write your views here...

Posted by suzieq18 on 20/10/2013 at 09:27 AM

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I agree with Prensky (2001), digital natives and digital immigrants exist in the world. I am a digital immigrant in the sense that I did not get into the digital culture until much later in life. However, I assimilated into the culture but I have not truly bought into it. I am far ahead of my parents, but I cannot say that I come remotely close to my nephew. My nephew who is only three years old is a digital native. He is wired to use digital tools. Prensky argues that digital natives think and process information differently than digital immigrants. He thinks differently and processes information in a different manner. He is used to receiving information fast. He uses the computer and an Ipad proficiently. He knows how to access information without being taught. Prensky would say that his brain is wired differently which helps them to manage the cognitive demands of digital tools. With a digital immigrant, they stop and think about the information they are trying to access. Digital immigrants might have to look up information first before they try to work on the product. Basically, digital immigrants may read manuals to see how something works first. Digital immigrants are not wired for the digital tools of today and need help in accessing them. It is my belief that in the classroom, teachers have to strengthen students in the language of the culture, the digital culture. Educators have to be willing to adapt their practices because we are moving beyond the “old way of doing school”. If we really think about where education is going, traditional texts are moving out of the classroom and will soon be replaced by digital texts. Students need to be taught strategies to access the digital features and comprehend the text (Coiro, 2003). If we continue in the same path of educating students, we are preparing them to not live in this century. We are preparing them to use traditional texts and occasionally use the Internet for small research.

Posted by sfarley5 on 14/10/2012 at 03:24 PM

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I am actually going to change my views from what they once were when I was in Dr. Turner's class and say that the concept of digital natives and digital immigrants exists and have a fair amount of validity to them. I can say this because of my observations of fellow teachers. Many of these teachers have been in education for 20 or more years and stick to more traditional means of educations such as using textbooks, administering paper-and-pen tests, and performing IRE (initiate, response, evaluate) or call-and-response protocols to determine student learning. In essence, they are using pedagogical approaches that are outdated with today's student. I constantly see these teachers struggle to integrate technology with pedagogy and content (Mishra and Koehler, 2006). Many times, it is the students (digital natives) teaching the teacher how to use the SmartBoard, Jing, Prezi, Youtube, and a variety of other technologies. When I see these interactions of the student being the knowledgeable individual and the teacher being the recipient, it reinforces the idea that digital natives and digital immigrants exist. While there may be some exceptions to the rules, as there always is, those who have spent their entire lives saturated with technology will of course outperform and be more familiar with said technologies than those that need to learn how to operate and utilizes said technologies not only in practice, but in being able to converse about them using and understanding the correct terminology that pertain to said technologies.

Posted by patdepippo on 11/10/2012 at 12:52 PM

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Do Digital Natives exist? From a superficial level, yes. There are people who grew up where certain types of technology have always existed (smartphones, call waiting, email, personal computers). And therefore, there are others who have lived portions of their lives pre- aforementioned technological advance (rotary phones, busy signals, faxes, typewriters). However, I can’t quite agree with Digital Native as a generational label that Prensky (2001) connected to “the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century” (p. 1). For people born in the 1980’s, there were still some vestiges of pre-digital culture that are a distinct part of your life. Van Slyke (2003) wrote that the shift from native to immigrant seemed a little too drastic to have occurred between Generation X and the Digital Natives. So is the comparison really between the Baby Boomers and the Digital Natives? If this is the case, then technology is just one of a variety of societal and cultural changes that could be used to explain differences. In addition, Margaryan, Littlejohn and Volt (2009) conducted a mixed method study in the United Kingdom and concluded students demonstrated a comfort with traditional teaching methods. The variety of learning styles may not be as sweeping as Prensky presents. It is possible that there is group of students whose upbringing requires a faster paced, inquiry filled, games approach to pedagogy but it seems unlikely that it is everyone.

Posted by jeveri on 11/10/2012 at 12:48 PM

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The points presented by Prensky on Digital Natives are very well taken and resonate with me. Some of his points could hold some validity; however, I am still skeptical and would like to further investigate the evidence. Technological advancements have take the world by storm and it appears to be evolving and changing daily. The term Digital Natives maybe describing a phenomenon that is occurring that no one has been able to grab yet, due to the recent and fairly new literature.

Posted by GPR135 on 10/10/2012 at 10:09 PM

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I believe that digital natives indeed exist and that they possess different neural connections based on the environment to which they have been born. According to Carr (2010), the internet is changing the way we think and respond to stimuli. A digital native is already accustomed to a world in which a variety of media continually bombards them. I wonder if a digital native also has an associated challenge with maintaining prolonged concentration. How does a digital native retrain their neural circuitry to control the distractions inherent with this ubiquitous

Posted by gonzosensei on 10/10/2012 at 09:51 PM

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I agree with Prensky (2001) that teachers need to adapt methodology to suit the brains, interests, and experiences of today's adolescents. However, I am resistant to his dichotomous approach. Why must we be either native or immigrant, legacy or future, outdated or new? If we dig deeper into his comparison of digital literacy to a second language, I think the binary begins to unravel. For example, what would Prensky make of people who learned English as a second language but develop fluency that makes them indistinguishable from native speakers? If you are technically an immigrant, but develop skills that allow you to blend in with natives, what are you? Carr (2010) makes clear through descriptions of his own experiences that the digital immigrant brain is capable of significant transformation. If he was capable of reading, thinking, and learning like a digital native, what was he? I think that Prensky is absolutely right that teachers need to develop an understanding of how contemporary technology has transformed the ways in which students read, think, and learn, but I don't think that means that everything must be taught as a game or that reading books on paper is pointless or that students should not develop their mental math skills. Technology doesn't have to mean that we sacrifice some things to make room for others. It can also mean that we can now do more--legacy AND future content--not either-or. I see digital life as a continuum, not a binary.

Posted by rlshoaf on 10/10/2012 at 09:21 PM

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Your point regarding educators adapting to different teaching practices to reach students who are at the cusp of a changing world were technology is an essential skill. According to the NMC Horizon Report (2012), smartphones including the iPhone and Android have redefined what we mean by mobile computing, and in the past three to four years, the small, often simple, low-cost software extensions to these devices—apps—have become a “hotbed of development” (Johnson, Adams,

Posted by GPR135 on 10/10/2012 at 10:14 PM

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Regarding Prensky's choice to use the words "natives" and "immigrants", I would have to agree with Van Slyke (2003) in that the connotation behind these words may cause their intended meanings to become lost or disregarded as insensitive. Prensky hoped to spread awareness and spur change in how we teach younger more digitally-adept learners but has ironically shown his inability to see that his language and terminology is insensitive to this same group. While students are used to working quickly and surrounded by stimuli, I don't think encouraging students to learn in a way that is outside of their norm or comfort zone is unreasonable. Having the ability to problem solve and think critically is not a linear skill. Students should be able to learn in a myriad of settings using an array of methods and strategies that they have acquired throughout their lives, not only the techniques they learn by using technology. Technology is an unpredictable medium. Websites and apps that are working properly now may not be in ten seconds. Developing strategies to problem solve and to learn transcend the machine or tool that is used, whether it is a cell phone or a pencil.

Posted by NathanSnyder on 10/10/2012 at 09:04 PM

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I agree that we should include current technology in our methodology. As you say, whether it is a cell phone or a pencil, developing strategies and higher order thinking skills should be the focus and driving objectives of our pedagogy. Prensky talks about using technology as a new way of teaching and learning and the "old" way as slow and "not worth paying attention to." He described the game "Monkey Wrench" as a successful strategy for teaching CAD software as opposed to going through a manual and learning all the buttons, options and approaches. If one goes deeper into what occurred ,it is that the switch to the game transferred the responsibility for the learning to the learner. Inquiry learning is more interesting to the learner than teacher -centered, rote learning. The advantages of the speed, access, connectivity of the digital age are tools that facilitate project-centered, student-centered, inquiry-based pedagogy. Digital cameras trump film cameras in terms of speed and ease just as computers trump typewriters, pens, pencils and yes, clay tablets. The speed,immediacy, randomness, networking capabilities of the internet obviously out perform the "old" ways in which we accessed information in ways too numerous to mention. Yet I have seen teachers use Smartboards, powerpoint presentations ,hyperlinks and games in their geography lessons, and it doesn't guarantee a successful learning experience if the lesson is delivered top-down. Prensky says "it just depends on the way it is presented." The salient issue in the way "it', the lesson, is presented is the transfer of responsibility for research, investigation, and new learning to the learner. .

Posted by hneedleman on 13/10/2012 at 10:43 AM

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If digital natives is a term coined to describe a person who has always had the access (versus accessibility) to technology then perhaps digital natives exist. And if immigrants are those that had to learn new technology that has been developed during their lifetime– then sure – immigrants exist. However, I am not sure if the real issue is whether there are digital natives or immigrants when we consider education. I do believe that those who Prensky defines as natives may have the advantage in using the medium (computers, internet, etc.) and can do so with increasing speed and proficiency. However, I do not believe that these “natives” have an advantage over the “immigrants” in understanding the content in a deeper sense or a greater ability to critically evaluate the abundance of information that technology can provide. Prensky posits that immigrant teachers need to change the way they teach the digital natives. I agree that in order to keep these natives engaged (students who are used to immediate feedback and stimulation beyond language, print, etc.), then teachers probably need to step up their game of engagement. However, I do not agree with the Prensky that technology can replace “good” teaching or “legacy’ content is passé. The underpinning learning theories suggest that students learn how to engage in thoughtful literacy and learning through social interaction via discussion in order to gain deeper meaning of what they read or learned. The internet may be able to provide information and hyperlinks as well as visuals and graphics but it cannot provide an oral language experience; or a deeper reading experience which goes beyond simply reading words on the screen – the discussion/ conversation element is missing. Additionally, what about these “natives” who do not have access to technology – based on economics, geographic and other disproportionalties, not all people born from 1980 to current day, had or will have unlimited access to technology. Does this now move this population to another status – perhaps digitally disadvantage? I agree with what I believe is underlying to Prensky – do some teachers need to change and embrace technology – absolutely when it is to the betterment of their students or best practices in education. But caution must be used in not just using technology for the sake of using it (or using it incorrectly) but with a deeper learning measure in mind. For example, teachers still need to teach and students still need to learn to be critical consumers of information so by applying those skill to the internet is viable and recommended (information literacy). Students need to learn about the world and the internet provides the accessibility to see things that one might never experience broadening ones experiences and background knowledge. The depth of the learning content must be considered rather than the manipulation of the medium from which it is delivered.

Posted by MaryBeth Kenny on 10/10/2012 at 06:43 PM

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It is not an unusual scene to see 1 or 2-year-old babies playing with an iPad. Members of the young generation of the 21st century, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) society, who master the Internet and social networking can be called Digital Natives. Digital Natives use the Internet, social media and cloud computing, and send information to instantly connect to people around the world and work together. The Digital Natives create a new form of perception beyond traditional perception. Their new form of perception is building a new culture and it may have possibilities for changing society. Nicholas Carr (2010) in The Shallws, points out that the Internet affects the brain in abilities of concentration and deep-thinking leading to distraction. And the Internet changes our intellectual habits against our will. The small devices connected to the Internet such as the smart-phone and the iPad are attached firmly to our everyday activities. This culture creates a different brain (Carr, 2010). Prensky (2001) argues that the Digital Natives are socialized differently from the Digital Immigrants and their brains may be different, so they may think that traditional education is not worth paying attention to, compared to experiences in their life. Education needs to provide different ways for the Digital Natives. Prensky (2001) highlights that digital game-based learning interests Digital Natives. Davidson (2011) in Now you see it: How the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work, and learn, reports that the Quest2Learn, which is an inquiry-based learning based on a “gamer disposition” including risk-taking, critical reflection, collaboration, meaning creation, non-linear navigation, problem-solving, and innovation, works effectively. Educators need to know about the Digital Natives and study new ways, including game-based learning, to teach.

Posted by mohyama on 10/10/2012 at 05:12 PM

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Your point is well taken regarding educators needing to know about how to engage and relate to digital natives. The use of apps, iPad, Kindle, and other electronic devices is dramatically changing the methods in which teachers are engaging students. Amazingly enough, the developers of iPad, Android, and other app platforms are constantly improving and creating programs that will catch the attention of and engage students in a variety of educational games and programs. This has created a plethora of games, educational tools, and resources at the fingertips of millions of people. It was reported that Apple sold over 15 million iPads in less than a year and the second generation has just arrived along with the creation of a number of apps to go along with it (AAC-RERC, 2012). Hence, it is a must that educators get a grasp on this new wave of technology. The implications are far reaching. Technology continue to enhance students’ ability to do a range of different things including maneuvering through various concepts and information at their fingertips. I suspect that training and professional development in this area will be a demand if not already.

Posted by GPR135 on 10/10/2012 at 10:19 PM

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I agree with Prensky’s concept of “digital natives” and “digital immigrants.” Incoming teachers have a distinct advantage growing up with technology, compared with their older counterparts who have had to play catch up over the past 20 years or so. Studies have found, however, that the separation between the two groups may not be as great as Prensky believes. Guo, Dobson, and Petrina (2008) examined the information and communication technology (ICT) skills “of those born after 1980 and those born before” (p. 249). Findings showed no statistically significant difference in ICT scores between the two groups. Lei (2009) concluded that although new teachers may be familiar with social media websites and other basic technology, they are less adept at creating wikis, blogs, and podcasts, which would be useful as possible classroom assignments for their future students. Kimar and Vigil (2011) conducted a survey among 54 preservice teachers and found their experience in creating blogs and wikis to be minimal as well. They stated that teacher education programs should include “innovative assignments that require preservice teachers to create online or media-integrating content in their teacher education coursework” (p. 150). It seems learning new technologies is an ongoing process for both “digital natives” and “digital immigrants.”

Posted by ekule09 on 10/10/2012 at 01:09 AM

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It is no secret that the multiple functions of technology permeate our society. It almost seems expected to see a person walking down the street entertained by the sounds emerging from a portable media player like an iPod. Public payphones have become obsolete because everyone young and old never leaves home without a cellphone and the home computer has become a source of learning and entertainment. The emergence of technology has infiltrated our lives, especially in the lives of a generation of students born into the booming 21st century technology age. In the article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky (2001), Prensky defines this generation of students as “digital natives” versed in the language of “computers, video games, and the Internet” (p.1). In sharp contrast “digital immigrants” are handicapped by the emergence of 21st century technologies. Prensky (2001) even argues that digital natives think about and process information differently than digital immigrants. Prensky (2001) takes care to briefly examine the effect that 21st century technologies have on the human brain. Nicholas Carr author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains proposes that as a result of the rapid growth of technology our ability for “concentration and contemplation” is affected (p.6). As I concentrate on the role of the brain in adjusting to the demands of 21st century technologies, I contemplate the notion that the human brain has the capacity to evolve to include the lights, the sounds, the graphics, and the overload of information presented in video games and on the Internet. In Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Part II): Do They Really Think Differently by Marc Prensky (2001), Prensky asserts that the brain is changing through reorganizing itself based on various demands and new sets of knowledge throughout our lives; this phenomenon is known as “neuroplasticity” (p.2). With this emerging knowledge, it is obvious that, this generation of students possesses unique teaching and learning characteristics; therefore, “today’s teachers have to learn to communicate in the language and style of their students” (Prensky, 2001, p.4). The debate surrounding learning in the 21st century far surpasses a label of “digital native vs. digital immigrant” but extends to this question, how are educators preparing students to be successful in the 21st century? In a keynote speech entitled “Engage Me or Enrage Me” by Marc Prensky, Prensky (2007) proposes that in order to facilitate learning within the classroom context that values optimal opportunity in the 21st century, schools must place students at the “heart of the matter”. It is vital that schools create learning environments where students are formulating and actively participating in the development of their personal knowledge. The book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention will Transform the Way we Live, Work, and Learn by Cathy Davidson, Davidson (2011) asserts that students should be prepared to be successful in the rapidly evolving digital age by focusing teaching and learning around the notion of “student led curiosity”. In this 21st century classroom, students are encouraged to collaborate, formulate, and actively participate in the development of their personal knowledge, the same characteristics required when exploring content presented on the Internet. As an educator, I am interested to see how 21st century technologies influence the future of teaching and learning in schools.

Posted by dgathers on 09/10/2012 at 11:01 AM

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Immigrants and natives. This is not a new concept, Immigrants can learn a language though they may never get all the nuances that cultural natives have. English language learners can be fluent, but they may never truly understand all the depth. They may never really understand the idea of the term peace out or what up. It isnt that different than what Prensky (2001) is talking about. The problem is that the immigrant teachers are not all recognizing the validity of the "language" or the culture because they were not raised in that culture. The concept of the bias against wikipedia use can be explained in part by what Prensky is saying. The adage that you can not use wikipedia in the class may be because they do not understand the cultural context of collaborative learning in those platforms and their training in linear text based literacy may be mediating their approach. It isnt that we should deny students the opportunity to use these platforms, we have to teach them how, And it isn't enough to train teachers to use the technology, we have to train teachers how to use it appropriately for learning. What becomes increasingly evident to me is the way we constant hear educators talking about how we have to educate students for the 21st century as though the 21st century is not here yet. Newsflash- it is here. Students today may read text based documents in school, but when they leave, they are communicating in platforms that are not linear. They use sound bytes and audio, they use visuals, they use hyper links- they do have a different culture. For educators of today not to recognize that culture and begin to effectively incorporate those learning and cultural styles into the classroom short changes the success rate potential for today's students.

Posted by scooperman on 09/10/2012 at 04:32 PM

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I don't think the question is whether a term is misleading or not. I mean, all terms can be misleading if it is used in the wrong way... since this is a new term it is going to take some time for it to "grow up" in become more tangible and concrete. I think the issue is whether this term can, in the long run, be helpful in allowing us to define something that was not previously defined. Thus does digital natives exist (that there are some people that are wired differently due to their technology abilities) and if this is the case, then we should have a term which represents them... I think many of your "arguments against the issue" are not real arguments about the issue.

Posted by Leu on 13/07/2012 at 08:36 AM

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If we ignore the argument about whether the term "Digital Natives" is misleading, and focus solely on whether they exist or not, that I would say "yes", they definitely exist. Kids today are being exposed to all sorts of technologies, that we ourselves were not exposed it. Two examples come to mind; 1) I got my first cell phone on my 16th birthday. According to my parents, I needed it since I was now driving on my own. Today, my 8 year old cousin has a cell phone. She was exposed to that technology way before me. 2) Facebook. I think I joined facebook when I was a junior in high school. My 5th graders have facebook accounts. Those might not be the best two examples, but they come to mind. Digital Natives exist, we might need to call them something else, but I believe that they exist.

Posted by mschusterb on 13/07/2012 at 05:16 PM

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I believe that the term "digital natives" exists. My grandmother has an extremely hard time navigating a remote control and house phone, let alone the internet's blog posts and wikispaces. My peers and I, on the other hand, have much more familiarity with new technologies, as new inventions seem to build off of one another. My knowledge and use of technology has been greatly benefitted by my life-long use of older technologies. Not only can I play X-Box 360 very well because I started off with Super Nintendo, but my use of the internet has been greatly accelerated from AOL instant messaging to using the internet to contact random donors to support my classroom on "Donors Choose." However, my younger siblings have even more media literacy than I do. As their eyes are transfixed on screens, they can navigate social media and internet tools much faster and efficiently than i can.

Posted by cafinc05 on 12/07/2012 at 06:53 PM

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I believe that the term "digital natives" exists. My grandmother has an extremely hard time navigating a remote control and house phone, let alone the internet's blog posts and wikispaces. My peers and I, on the other hand, have much more familiarity with new technologies, as new inventions seem to build off of one another. My knowledge and use of technology has been greatly benefitted by my life-long use of older technologies. Not only can I play X-Box 360 very well because I started off with Super Nintendo, but my use of the internet has been greatly accelerated from AOL instant messaging to using the internet to contact random donors to support my classroom on "Donors Choose." However, my younger siblings have even more media literacy than I do. As their eyes are transfixed on screens, they can navigate social media and internet tools much faster and efficiently than i can.

Posted by cafinc05 on 12/07/2012 at 06:52 PM

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I believe the term "digital native" as and labeled by Prensky (2001) is too narrow because it emphasizes the importance of age in designated whether a person is a digital native or digital immigrant. I agree more so with Helsper (2008b) who vehemently opposes the restrictive use of term to those born after a particular and relatively arbitrary date. I, like Helsper, that digital competency should be determined by expertise and experience. Also, Prensky's digital native is also a misnomer, because not all people included in his time-window-for-digital-nativeness are fully proficient in digital technologies, dialects, or arenas; everyone learns how to master digital competencies at their own pace and for different reasons. For example, some "digital natives" may know how to use and interpret text-speak, while others may have a limited or different understanding of how to use and interpret text-speak. The same principle goes for other digital technologies such as podcasting, computer app usage, online tools because different people learn different things at different rates for different purposes.

Posted by patdepippo on 12/07/2012 at 06:47 PM

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Posted by scooperman on 09/10/2012 at 04:15 PM

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I believe, along with many of my classmates, that digital natives do exist in the world that we live in. However, just because someone is born in this day and age does not automatically qualify them as a digital native. Many factors influence whether or not someone will be a digital native, such as socioeconomic status, or where someone grows up. I think that if you grow up in a society where technology is used every day and are given repeated exposure to said technology, you will be classified as a digital native. Being a digital native, in my mind, does not mean that you are a technical expert, or know how technology works, but it does mean that you can use technology that is placed at your fingertips without being overwhelmed. It means you can start consuming content wherever you are and it will seem natural. It means you can communicate with someone over the internet, or phone, easily and without much thought. What Karl Maton, Sue Bennett, and Lisa Kervin describe as "sophisticated skills" does not mean someone growing up in this day must understand the technology behind those skills.

Posted by Michael Keith Stuart on 12/07/2012 at 04:52 PM

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The article referenced was "The Digital Native Debate: a critical review of the evidence"

Posted by Michael Keith Stuart on 12/07/2012 at 05:48 PM

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I agree with this. I think one of the things that has to be looked at is who is the population that is being used, who are these digital natives? You may have been born during the time period that qualifies you as being a potential digital native, but if you are part of the digital divide and do not belong to a socio-economic group or socio-cultural group that is afforded these technologies, than you may not have the capabilities or the skills to be considered a full member of that group. While it is true, that digital technology is around, it doesn't mean it is accessible to everyone. Having the know-how in terms of learning how to navigate around in facebook doesn't mean that you know how to use Facebook in ways that will forward your education. I think the idea that many students today live one life in school and a different life outside of school is very important. PEW research discusses the prevalence of cell phone usage in today's younger generations, books have been written on how to use mobile technology in education, but schools often give detentions if cell phones are brought out inside school instead of looking at how they can be used. Bridging the gap between what students do outside the class and what they do inside the class will forward the education of these "natives" to actually become successful in this 21st century.

Posted by scooperman on 09/10/2012 at 04:40 PM

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The term "Digital Natives" is controversial for good reason. Any term that attempts to group a vast number of people under one umbrella is going to be combatted with skepticism. Still, it is undeniable that we are living in a technological society. Smartphones, tablets, GPS systems, Kindles. You name it and we've got it. If not, it's coming soon. And the newer version isn't far behind. But what society are we talking about? The first world? The Western Hemisphere? America? The coasts? Growing up and teaching in New York City, it's easy to see that we have technology at our fingertips. Literally. But does the rest of our country? Continent? World? Just because you're born after a certain year doesn't necessarily mean that your a native to the digital world. At the same time, however, in order to be successful, there are certain digital skills that are becoming unavoidable. Computer literacy is vital to success in many top-paying professions, so our education system needs to adapt and cater to said skills. But I don't think it means uprooting the system to teach to a new style of learners. It's unfair to group "digital learners" as one type of learner. And Prensky does a poor job of substantiating his claims with evidence. This makes it difficult to fully buy into the idea of Digital Natives, but there's certainly validity in thinking that our society is growing more technologically dependent, which will certainly change the way students (and teachers) approach not only education, but the real world, too.

Posted by awiktor on 12/07/2012 at 04:37 PM

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I agree with Awiktor. As the YouTube Video ("Did You Know") stated, the amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years, and students who are enrolled in a 4 year technical degree program, half of what they learn in their first year will be outdated by their third year of study. With this type of growth in technology, "digital natives" would become "digital immigrants" as they adapt to these new technological tools.

Posted by EdnaX on 12/07/2012 at 09:30 PM

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I agree with Erin, Just because your are born into this period doesn't necessarily mean that you have mastered the technology that is being used. There are still students in this country that lack the technology in their homes that would qualify them as Digital Natives. At the same time i do believe that technology is a very effective way to engage students. The things that could be done with technology these days is just unbelievable and the shock and awe aspect that it could have with students in the classroom might be good enough to hook them in to a certain topic.

Posted by lpena175 on 12/07/2012 at 10:55 AM

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I believe that "digital natives" exist only when students are given the exposure to technology based on their socioeconomic background and/or access to technology in their communities. In Hsi (2007), she presented vignettes of two students who were considered digital kids due to their usage of technology through their everyday activities. If students are neither exposed nor participating in the use of technological tools, this label of "digital natives" would not apply to them. Both Hsi (2007) and Zevenbergen (2007) support the need of technology to be integrated into the classroom in order to provide students with activities and plays with technology that can benefit them developmental and help them learn (which may help them getting close in becoming "digital natives"). Within this label of "digital natives" there is a gap between the accessibility of technology, which supports Hsi (2007) and Zevenbergen's (2007) argument for implementing computer technology inside the school, which will encourage students to learn through computer technology.

Posted by EdnaX on 12/07/2012 at 09:44 AM

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Ultimately I have to argue that "digital natives" do exist, but only to the extent that Pernsky argues that having grown up around technology makes students desire for the delivery of information to be more expedient/accessible. I think that as educators we cannot ignore the fact that such students as Meredith Fear (McHale 2005) do exist within our classrooms. However, I also think that it is misleading to believe that all students are like Meredith. While digital technology has existed for many years now, and is constantly growing, not everyone has equal access to that technology. There is a difference between growing up around technology and being digitally competent (Li 2010).

Posted by miguelatron on 12/07/2012 at 08:01 AM

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I believe digital natives exist whole-heartedly. As unscholarly as this might sound, I have even heard teachers make reference to the fact that no one needs to have penmanship or even know how to spell due to the immense technology this generation has been expose to. To any term describing a group of people I have to agree with Leu that stereotypes come along but from my observation in my lifetime of be right in the middle of when cell phones and computers made the transition into household norms. In contrast, not having access to Web 2.0 on a consistent basis until I was 18 I have seen the shift in people, our youth and society. In the article I researched, it is obvious that this is not a worldwide concept but I believe it soon will be. As a teacher, this needs to be carefully taken into account.

Posted by Tyescha Clark on 12/07/2012 at 12:06 AM

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I definitely believe that it is an incumbent duty of teachers to incorporate technologies to the classroom. However, as we do this, I think it is important for us, educators, to remember that not all students are at the same competency levels (as you point out in your evidence about socio-economic variables). Again, Leu does point out that stereotypes are "limiting" in defining an entire generation, so I think the emphasis should be shifted towards incorporating digital technologies into instruction, rather than assuming all students are savants of digital technologies. I think this may be what you are ultimately arguing, so I agree with you (even though I do not believe "digital natives" is a real term/identity). Therefore, do you believe that this changes your perception of what a digital native is?

Posted by christinepeters on 12/07/2012 at 08:40 AM

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I agree that the term digital native is convenient, yet somewhat limiting, to define a population as Leu stated above. Prensky would also argue there to be "digital immigrants," therefore defining another population in contrast to digital natives. It is our very nature to define a group of people with a common thread just as the term of "native" does. However I also feel that defining someone due to their time range in which they were born creates a gray area because those people might have not had access with such technologies due to socioeconomic status or other factors. Prensky and VanSlyke's research argues that digital natives are people whose brains might have very well been restructured due to their immersion in digital media unlike previous generations. The term digital native is not only somewhat stereotypical but as Vanslyke states, "it is hard to believe that neurological structures could change to such a dramatic extent from one generation to the next." (2003) It is also limiting to discourage the relevance of previously technologies and the users of those mediums because I agree that they might be highly advanced in the tools required for those technologies whereas natives to new technologies might be novice at multiple functions rather than experts in any.

Posted by MargoS on 11/07/2012 at 10:48 PM

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Yes, digital natives do exist. Do they exist within paramaters as vague as a time range in which they were born? Not likely. I think they exist based on the simple fact that there are people, who happen to be of a certain age range, who have had exposure to certain digital technologies from the very moments they were old enough to understand language and use it to communicate. But as critics point out, there are socio-economic factors that play into one's access to these technologies. Subsequently, a lack of exposure to today's technologies would result in a lack of familiarity with and/or benefits from them. So it's not enough to just be born during a certain time period to fit the description of a true digital native since it is possible to lack access to digital tools and resources and therefore not feel "native" to the digital culture.

Posted by Rickeena Richards on 11/07/2012 at 08:56 PM

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I agree with you. I think being born in a certain time doesn't necessarily mean that you are totally competent in using technology.. Do you think that technology is one of the MOST effective ways to engage students in this digital age? Even if they have/have not had much exposure to technology prior to entering school?

Posted by Erinn Keane on 11/07/2012 at 09:56 PM

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That is well put, Erinn and Rickeena. Even though I still stick to arguing that I do not believe digital native exist, I say this because I believe competency should follow a native understanding. Moreover, although I do not necessarily believe that students are, on the whole, fully competent in technologies or that all students have access to these technologies, I do believe (in answer to your question, Erinn) that technology is one of the most effective ways to engage students in this digital age because technology is a necessity and very helpful. Technology (access to and knowledge of) opens doors to many opportunities so students should learn using them to augment their skill set and become more prepared to be successful.

Posted by christinepeters on 12/07/2012 at 08:26 AM

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i agree with you, Christine. I believe digital native-ness is not an accurate label we should arbitrarily attached to a select group of people. Even though younger people may seem more proficient and have the ability to quickly understand how technology works faster than the older generation, they also seem more resistant to help when they aren't able to figure out how to do something or make something work. This resistance often leads to either an incorrect or incomplete understanding of how to use technology. It is only by frequent and collaborative engagement with digital technologies that a person can develop fuller, more comprehensive digital competency. Therefore, digital native-ness should be determined expertise and experience, which leads back to the argument of access to technology and socio-economic issues.

Posted by patdepippo on 12/07/2012 at 06:56 PM

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A battle of what the term means... I think no matter what we feel about whether it is accurate or not, I have a feeling the term is here to stay (I can't believe the article was written almost 10 years ago and the term is still being used, just typing in "digital natives" on Google will give me sites created by Harvard students who term themselves digital natives.) So I think what we should do is figure out the best way to define it so that before it gets put into Webster, it is a term that is defined as clearly as possible.

Posted by Leu on 13/07/2012 at 08:47 AM

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Agreed. There is a big blurring of the lines-like throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think we have to be flexible in understanding the definition of the term. The second part of the Prensky article talks about whether or not digital natives think differently, and his argument seems to be supported by Carr in What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. I see it in school and in my own reading--I am an immigrant. I prefer linear text based documents because that is what I am used to, but I clearly see that changing. I am more distracted when I read online, especially when I read research from many of the online journals that exist. I do click on the links because at the moment I see the link, I feel that I have to go there immediately for immediate gratification and I do see that when I go back to that original document- if I do, (which I do) my attention is not where it was and I have to re read (this time skipping over the link) Digital natives is a large term, but what is more important to understand, to categorize, and to analyze are all the supporting variable characteristics that contribute to the terms. They are not all equal and they do not apply to every one.

Posted by scooperman on 09/10/2012 at 04:49 PM

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I see the term “digital natives” as a way of identifying a generation more than a stereotype because stereotypes usually carry negative connotations and “digital natives” simple does not. Prensky posits that digital natives are socialized in an entirely different way; thus their thinking patters, beliefs, and perspectives are markedly different from past generations. I would like to emphasize the term perspective because I do not agree with Prensky’s assertion that digital natives’ brains have physically changed. Digital natives were born from a generation without this technology and therefore, they have the same brain construction as former generations. However, I do believe that digital natives “think and process information fundamentally differently.” (Prensky, 2001) Rather than focusing intensely on a single task, digital natives often multitask by jumping from webpage to webpage. This difference definitely exists and is why education needs reform.

Posted by jbenedetto2 on 11/07/2012 at 10:17 AM

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Prensky makes a common assumption in his definition digital natives, what Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin discuss as "young people of the digital native generation possess sophisticated knowledge of and skills with information technologies." However, limited evidence exists to support this. Students are not any smarter than older generations just because they were immersed in digital technology at a young age. "Generalizations about a whole generation of young people thereby focus attention on technically adept students, according to "Review of the ‘digital natives’ debate." Additionally, many children, while born in a 'digital age', have not enjoyed consistent or increased access to technology as a result of socioeconomic background. Therefore, the term digital natives is misleading and hinges upon false assumptions.

Posted by christinepeters on 10/07/2012 at 11:04 AM

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Although not all people born into the digital natives generation were immersed in technology from birth, the overwhelming majority of people from that generation have had significantly more exposure to technology than their predecessors. The rapid changes in our culture and our society forced many generations to adapt. The digital natives generation had the benefit of early exposure. Like learning a language, learning technological skills is best when people are younger, thus they became "fluent" in technology. Even if every digital native does not own XBOX 360, do you know of any teenagers that don't know what to do when they sit down in front of a computer?

Posted by jbenedetto2 on 11/07/2012 at 10:26 AM

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"Do you know of any teenagers that don't know what to do when they sit down in front of a computer?" No, but to be honest, I don't know any 40 year olds who don't know how to use a computer, either. Just about anyone born after the late '60s has had a video game console since the age of 10, and the majority of kids born in the 1970s have had a computer at least since their teenage years. If you look at computer and video game stats, you'll notice that Millennials have almost exactly the same rates of ownership as Generation X; and in all likelihood, Generation X has, on a per person basis, owned more computers than a typical Millennial. I think the most un-explored aspect of the entire issue is that Millennials base their assumptions about earlier generations on either their parent's abilities, and their parents are the last generation to grow up in households and schools without computers.

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 12:53 AM

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Mark Prensky puts it best when he writes, "today's students... have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all other toys and tools of the digital age" (2001). I believe that there are Digital Natives. They are the people all over the world who have grown up with multiple technologies at their fingertips. The youtube video "Did You Know 3" that Kristen had posted on the wiki page states that it only took 2 years for Facebook to reach a market audience of 50 million. The time for any technology to reach a market audience has grown exponentially, and will continue to. I think that the numbers stand for themselves. Yes, there are Digital Natives.

Posted by mschusterb on 10/07/2012 at 10:38 AM

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I agree with what you have said, and I have one question. Do you think that all of our students are digital natives? I believe there are digital natives, but I am having a difficult time believing that every one born after 1980 is a digital native.

Posted by Nicole Liuzzo on 10/07/2012 at 12:11 PM

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No, I don't think that all of our students are digital natives. I suppose it all depends how much you are exposed to technology. From what I understood from Prensky, a digital native is someone who has had exposure to technology from a young age. The more you practice and play with technology, the better you become at it. I considered myself a digital native up until about 3:00 today when I went to Fordham to use the computer lab and walked in to find a lab full of Macs. Being a PC girl, I was terrified and tried to sit down to burn a disk and had NO IDEA how to do it! I felt like a "digital immigrant". It kind of made me realize that just because you are born in the "digital age" doesn't necessarily make you a native.. it all depends how much exposure you have.

Posted by Erinn Keane on 10/07/2012 at 05:04 PM

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I just spent my first year teaching in the South Bronx and I would argue that not all my students are digital natives simply due to their access to today's technologies. Yes, there were many who had the latest iPhones and Blackberrys, and plenty of in-class gossip stemmed from Facebook activities. But there were also plenty of students who had to complete their Internet-related projects at school because it was the only place where they had Internet access, the software to complete a project, or a printer to print the finished product. Bennett, Matton, and Kervin argue that since there is a whole population of socioeconomically disadvantaged youth that lacks regular access to digital technologies, the generalization made by the notion of a how native one is to the digital culture being purely based on being a member of a specific generation really only applies to "technically adept students". They go on to argue that with this inaccurate generalization "comes the danger that those less interested and less able will be neglected, and that the potential impact of socio-economic and cultural factors will be overlooked."

Posted by Rickeena Richards on 11/07/2012 at 09:15 PM

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I agree in terms that not all of our students are digital natives. It very much depends on exposure to such technologies and the socioeconomic status that plays a role in that accessibility. I believe that there are digital natives but that the term should include growth over time. It is limited to say someone is a digital native, and they may only be proficient in one technology of "their time."

Posted by MargoS on 11/07/2012 at 10:46 PM

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Erinn, while your point about PCs and Macs is interesting, one thing would make you a digital native would have been if you thought "I'll go online and Google how to do it." And the fact that you could sit down and maneuver around the OS even though you hadn't used it before. However, what makes you a digital native more than anything is that you probably ability to learn how to use the OS that you had never encountered before and after a short period of time, not even realize that you're using a different OS.

Posted by Michael Keith Stuart on 12/07/2012 at 04:57 PM

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This is a really good point, and I'm sad that it hasn't already been brought up. Technology is not a single idea, it's nebulous, and encompasses just about everything that humans do. The current computing paradigm is not the only paradigm, so creating this arbitrary cut-off is at best, slightly idiotic.

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 12:59 AM

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First off, this isn't true at all. Computer ownership for young people in the US didn't even reach the 50% mark until the very late '90s, and if you want to use video game consoles as the yard stick, they've been around since the '70s (and don't say, "oh, the Atari was too simple to be included," because that's absolutely ridiculous, not to mention most Atari owners also owned an NES). The reality is that the more you use any technology, in this case a simple GUI and a typical web interface, the better you are at using it. It's literally just that simple. My dad had ALS, and was terrified of computers, however once the computer was his only means of communication, he became expert literally in a few weeks (and he was operating it with his EYELIDS). I think what most older people (50 in this case, I'm guessing) fail to understand is that their kids use the internet constantly, but so do lots of people, computer time just seems to taper off as you age and have more responsibility.

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 01:08 AM

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I'm sorry, but you're making assumptions about what others are capable of. Googling is not a tricky concept, and anyone can learn to go there first - I would argue that "digital natives" weren't even the first to realize this. This boils down to practice. I'm now 43, and switching platforms has never been hard for me, nor have I ever seen any of my friends stymied by Google. The internet is a very, very simple platform. We've been trained as a society to think of computers as "toys for smart guys", people born in the '50s and '60s especially have been taught this, and it takes some doing to break out of that perception. It's very hard to learn a new skill when you're nervous, which is exactly what older people feel in the presence of computers... they were taught to be that way.

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 01:18 AM

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I believe in the idea of digital natives. I feel that in order for a teacher to be successful in educating his or her students, he or she needs to adapt lessons to meet the students needs and interests. This is no different with technology. Technology is how we engage students in the 21st century. Think about it this way: as soon as the student wakes up in the morning, the tv is on, he is probably talking on his cell phone, texting on his way to school. Then he walks into the classroom. If there is nothing in that classroom to hold his attention, why should he bother? I do think that digital natives are "wired differently". Am I saying that constantly needing to be connected to the world via social networking and cell phones is the best thing? Certainly not. However, this is the way our society is changing. Because teaching is a profession that must change as the times do, we must adapt to support our digital native students.

Posted by Erinn Keane on 09/07/2012 at 05:24 PM

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In the article "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: Some Thoughts from the Generation Gap" by Timothy VanSlyke he states that he "found that while most of the younger students were proficient in using the Web, they could not adequately perform advanced searches or evaluate the validity of the resources they found." I do believe that there are a generation of students who are accustomed to using technology and we should incorporate technology into our teaching; however, do the use of cell phones and watching television mean that they are able, and effectively able, to perform valid searches on the internet, decipher through good content, or work video and sound recording devices? I think the problem with the term digital natives is that there is no clear definition of what classifies as digital...is that just using technology at its bare minimum or being able to do a multitude of tasks on the internet without further instruction?

Posted by ecaleb on 09/07/2012 at 06:22 PM

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Erinn, I agree with your statement that teaching needs to change with the times. As young teachers, we are considered 'digital natives' due to when we were born. Generally speaking, we have more confidence and skill with technologies. That skill gives us an edge over teachers who are NOT considered digital natives. We have more confidence with integrating technology into our lessons, and this ultimately helps our students. I am aware that there are some older teachers who have embraced technology, and I am proud of them! It is hard to work with unfamiliar technology, and I applaud those teachers who try to use technology in their classroom!

Posted by msmith25 on 10/07/2012 at 06:05 PM

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You present some thought provoking questions. My immediate response would be to say that digital is just using technology. Digital proficiency, is more than that. For example, digital proficiency is not using a cell phone to simply make a call or using the internet to search for "cute puppy pics." I think most of our students can do these tasks without instruction. However, students do need to learn how to research, discern reliable sources from unreliable ones, and move beyond Google. In the article, "Educators Engage Digital Natives and Learn from their Experience with Technology, " Downes and Bishop show us how much students can learn from being immersed in technology in the school environment. The immersion helps bridge the gap between home and school, students want to stay after school to work on projects, and most importantly students are intrinsically motivated to learn. I encourage everyone to read this article because it truly shows the positive effects of technology in schools. I also belief the environment they create is realistic for most schools in this day and age.

Posted by jbenedetto2 on 11/07/2012 at 11:06 AM

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Both Hsi (2007) and Zevenbergen (2007) also support the usage of technology in the classroom that will not only help students developmental but also allow for authentic learning to occur in the classroom. It is also important to keep in mind that some students may not have access to technology outside the classroom, which is why it is necessary for school curriculums to incorporate technology. Zevenbergen (2007) stated through the study of interaction, "computers have been found to improve social interaction” in the classroom where students were able to actively work together" (p. 24). Computer programs and software do not only enhance what children are learning, but also how they learn which encourages active involvement in the classroom.

Posted by EdnaX on 12/07/2012 at 10:05 AM

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I am still unsure of whether I believe that digital natives exist. If digital natives do in fact exist, I would suggest that their date of birth would be after the year 2000 rather than between the 1980s to the present. If this is the case, I am considered a digital native, and I know that I am not. I think that people who are growing up using computers to write rather than learning to print or reading a kindle or iPad rather than a physical book could be considered digital natives. The article "The Net Generation, Unplugged" from the economist suggests that by assuming an entire generation of students are learning in the same (new) way is counterproductive. I agree with this because all students have different learning styles, abilities, and experiences that they bring into the classroom. Technology use is just an additional category; some students may seem like digital natives while some students, born at the same time, may seem like digital immigrants.

Posted by Nicole Liuzzo on 09/07/2012 at 05:12 PM

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Nicole, I agree with your hesitation at being referred to as a digital native, simply because of your birth year. I was born in 1989, and I'm not sure I am a "native" at technology. However, I do believe that our generation - those of us born after 1980-DO have more skill at learning new technologies presented to us. Personally, I know that I can learn a new digital tool or program MUCH faster than my mother, who would not be considered a digital native. I also agree with your point that some students may be digital natives while others are digital immigrants; it is our job to figure out which of these categories our students fall into and plan instruction accordingly.The Zevenbergen article highlights that new students these days (primarily preschool kids coming into school) have had many technological experiences that previous generations did not have. We need to be aware that some students DO have previous knowledge regarding technology, and we need to nurture their skills. In the classroom, we also need to plant the seed of technological knowledge for those students who have not yet experienced the digital world.

Posted by msmith25 on 10/07/2012 at 05:59 PM

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I agree as well. I definitely cannot consider myself a digital native. I think my first exposure to the digital world was with my first email account when I was about 10. My parents got me a cell phone when I started driving at the age of 16. Before that, I honestly have no idea how I used to get information and communicate with people without it taking more than time than it would take me to click a button. I do remember those things called "reference books" coming in handy. I also remember getting actual hard copies of mail in a physical mailbox, and from people I knew rather than companies who want me to know how much money I owe them. But my unfamiliarity with many of today's digital tools can be somewhat overwhelming when I think of the responsibility I have as a teacher to expose my students to the digital world in a way that ensures they will be able to use it to compete academically and in life, in general - especially when teaching students who come from underserved and underrepresented communities.

Posted by Rickeena Richards on 11/07/2012 at 09:27 PM

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To me, native versus immigrant is too clear cut. What does that really mean? You're one or the other and there's no middle ground? What's the criteria to become a native? Are you born this way or can you become a native? Although I see that there are people who are more prone to learning technology (such as you compared to your mother), does that mean others are immigrants for life? What's the naturalization process like?

Posted by awiktor on 12/07/2012 at 04:42 PM

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I partially agree with Prensky’s definition of digital natives and digital immigrants, because there certainly are drastic differences between the 15-year-old and 55-year-old technology user. However, like almost everything life, I feel like digital fluency aligns to a spectrum; there can be younger individuals who struggle with technology and older individuals who don’t. Nevertheless, the chances are far greater that the youth in our country have a more authentic relationship with technology and more developed digital literacy because it has been present for as far back as they can remember.

Posted by Josh Williams on 09/07/2012 at 02:03 PM

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I definitely agree with your post. The earlier children are exposed to technology, the more likely it is to become an integral part of their lives. That being said my grandfather and my parents are proficient technology users. I cannot imagine them leaving the house without their cell phones. I think it is safe to say that those who are exposed to technology even at an older age can develop uses for and strong attachments to technology.

Posted by jbenedetto2 on 11/07/2012 at 10:30 AM

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I think that you raise some good points here, and reflected similarly. How do you feel about Prensky's opinion on our students' ability to multitask? I think it's a bit of an overstatement, as the digital world is not the first to expect students (or people) to attend to more than one task at a time. However, I've learned that there is a difference between multitasking and multi-attending. More often than not, we are doing the latter nor the former.

Posted by miguelatron on 12/07/2012 at 08:06 AM

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I also believe that is a bit of an overstatement. Just because someone is born after 1980 doesn't necessarily mean they are excellent at multi-tasking, nor is this the first time in history people have worked on many tasks at once. Anecdotally, I was born in 1986 and am a terrible multi-tasker. However (you'll notice I'm often on the fence and resist drawing hard lines), I do believe that being born into a digital environment is more conducive to multitasking. When we have cell phones, computers with multiple programs running, and TVs or music on in the background, I feel like it is far more likely we will become proficient at doing more than one thing at a time. Great question though.

Posted by Josh Williams on 12/07/2012 at 12:40 PM

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Josh, This is absolutely untrue. My first computer was an Apple II, and I've seen younger people completely stymied trying to figure out how to use it. Back in the mid-eighties, I could do (functionally) everything that I can do on a modern computer, using nothing but a keyboard and a stack of floppies. I would be utterly amazed if even 1 in 10 kids born after 1980 could come close to that level of mastery without a massive effort. You are literally no different than any other generation, you just have the luxury of being young and having energy, free time, and self-confidence that your parents do not have. Using modern technology is freakishly simple, and it disturbs me that your generation is so deluded. Not trying to be rude, but it's a very, very crazy thing to witness. I've seen older people switch from completely terrified of computers to completely at ease in a very short amount of time, all that was required was focus and necessity. In a few years, the GUI will be nothing like it is today, just as the GUI is nothing like the command line of my childhood, and you'll be just as new to it as your mom or dad is to today's computers. [EDIT for grammar and clarity]

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 02:35 AM

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I agree with Leu that the term digital native is being used to categorized an undefined group; however, I also agree with Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin in their article: "The 'digital natives' debate: a critical review of the evidence," that the term is not universal. Digital native describes a generation of young folks who are both born into the technological age AND with an assumption that they know how to use specific technologies. The term does not take into account those who do not have access to technology at home and at school.

Posted by ecaleb on 08/07/2012 at 11:29 PM

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I agree that this term does not take into account those who do not have access to technology, and I would like to add that it also does not take into account those people who use technology for the bare basics or have no interest in using it to its full potential. For example, I would not consider someone who knows how to use Word and Excel to be a digital native.

Posted by Nicole Liuzzo on 09/07/2012 at 05:16 PM

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You make an interesting point that makes me start rethinking my support of digital natives. I too would say that someone who knows to to use Word or Excel would not necessarily be a Digital Native. But if that is the case, and there is leeway as to who is or isn't a native, can we call anyone a Digital Native? Is there specific technology one must know about and be literate in to be considered a Digital Native? Ugh, now I am just confusing myself!

Posted by mschusterb on 10/07/2012 at 10:43 AM

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I think we also need to remember that it isn't just the ability to use technology, but the desire for a quicker way to attain information, ability to multitask and adapt quickly. With all that in mind, I think that Essence's observations are key in that we are presuming access for many students that may not be the case.

Posted by miguelatron on 12/07/2012 at 08:09 AM

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I agree with Ecaleb and Nicole that the accessibility of technology is not taken into account of the term digital natives, but I think that the usage of Microsoft Office programs are just a few tools that a digital native and immigrant might have and their ability may vary. For example, a digital native might include various charts, pictures, and audio on their PowerPoint, whereas a digital immigrant may just post text on a simple background. I think that the ability of the technology user should be taken account in the label "digital natives."

Posted by EdnaX on 12/07/2012 at 09:54 AM

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I agree with you, Megan. The problem with the term digital native is that it lacks specificity in terms of what knowledge or understanding of technology/digital tools a person must possess to be considered a digital native. Essentially, what must a person know to be considered a digital native: the ability to write an e-mail or the ability to write a blog; the ability to read an online article or the ability to use reading tools with an e-book? The inability to define a set of skills or proficiencies (or even what technologies must be mastered) makes it increasingly difficult to determine who is a digital native and who is not.

Posted by patdepippo on 12/07/2012 at 07:05 PM

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I believe that people who are exposed to technology from a young age are indeed digital natives. I have seen children as young as two years old use an iPad, and the internet is a huge part of most children's lives. That being said, some children (and even adults), are not exposed a great deal to technology and are therefore NOT digital natives. The Kennedy, Krause, Judd, Churchward, and Gray article notes that over 90% of students surveyed had access to a computer and mobile phone. This an impressive figure. As children age, they become more comfortable with technology as it integrates into their lives because a great number of them have a strong foundation of technological skills.

Posted by msmith25 on 08/07/2012 at 02:26 PM

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I agree that it is impressive how many students have access to a computer and mobile phone. It is interesting to think about how younger students choose to communicate. For example, my brother is 14 and he only talks to his friends on XBox Live. They may not even be playing a game, but he has the head set on while he walks around his room as if it were a phone.

Posted by Nicole Liuzzo on 09/07/2012 at 05:19 PM

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I'm not sure why that would surprise you. In the early '90s people used pagers because they were available and convenient, in the early/mid nineties it was chat rooms and IRC, today we have so many choices it's impossible to list them all. People use whatever is most appealing to them. It's interesting that you find it novel that he uses XBox Live to chat, if digital nativeness were a real thing, it would never occur to you that he was doing anything out of the ordinary.

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 02:12 AM

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Reading several of the articles, I am unsure still as to whether I believe there are such people who are digital natives. While I agree with many of the articles that there are a new generation of students who are more tech savvy than generations previous, I don't think that anyone can be considered a native. I think with the ever changing technology available today I think the more appropriate term we could use would be digital immigrants. As each new piece of technology becomes available students adapt their skills to use it before the next great gadget or tool comes around. With the constant changing of technology I doubt any one generation will be completely comprised of digital natives.

Posted by Emma Doyle on 16/02/2012 at 10:18 PM

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I understand what you are saying however I must disagree. Prensky uses the term digital immigrants to describe those who were never exposed to technology in their youth and are now becoming acquainted with it (i.e. A 65 year old woman gets her first cell phone and learns how to use it). If the generation that is now called digital natives, were called digital immigrants as you suggested, then would they ever move past the immigrant stage? This generation is considered natives because they were born into an era with this technology, they developed proficiency early on, and they have the ability to adapt their skills to new technologies. Even though technology is always developing, most of our students can learn how to use new tools and devices in minutes or hours because of their extensive background knowledge and experience.

Posted by jbenedetto2 on 11/07/2012 at 10:35 AM

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I get what you're saying, but I do like the idea that we are all, constantly, digital immigrants. For instance, I've never used www.debate.fm before, so I've had to learn or assimilate into this new digital technology - would that make me a digital immigrant to debate.fm? Or, like you note, is my general familiarity with technology what makes me a digital native; for instance, I've learned this new technology fairly quickly, while my mom might have a lot more trouble with it. Regardless, I think the phrase, "We are living in exponential times," which was used in the "Did You Know" video is appropriate for this conversation. Because things are changing so quickly, and I anticipate will continue to do so (remember when the iPad wasn't even a thing yet?), it is the responsibility of every digital citizen to stay up to date on the most relevant tools and technologies.

Posted by Josh Williams on 12/07/2012 at 12:56 PM

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jbenedetto2, How is learning to use modern technology different from learning an older technology? I'm 100% sure that a young person today would have a huge amount of trouble using many of the technologies of earlier generations, because they fall outside of the modern paradigm. I wonder how many of you would be able to set up a modem on a Windows 3.1 machine? What about one running MS-DOS? Or even a Linux machine from 1995? Technology doesn't just mean "a modern GUI", or a simple web interface. Anyone who doesn't stay up to date with their skills will find it just as hard to learn new technologies as your parents did learning to use Windows. Once you have kids and a mortgage, you'll understand how easy it is to fall behind.

Posted by MFMargin on 13/01/2014 at 02:28 AM

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I agree that it depends on the time period. If it is true that technology began in the 60's then someone from that time period still using technology would not a digital native. They would be way ahead of us and continue to be ahead of us. However, there is new technology being introduced to us everyday and so everyone would be learning on their own time. Growing up in this generation, some people are more media literate than those who grew up in the past because it is at our disposal with mostly all aspects of our communicative life. So I believe that it depends on the person and the time period debating the issue is there digital natives exist.

Posted by Ashley W. on 16/02/2012 at 08:25 PM

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If there's an achievement gap (which I've seen first-hand), then there's surely a digital gap, too. Some of my students have access to computers. Others have access to computers, but not Internet. Still, there are more who do all of their computer-based work on their iPods and smartphones. One similarity that most of my students share, however, is that they aren't strong typers. This isn't the same for students who live in suburbia. My cousins, for example, are more computer-savvy than I am, and they're half my age. Environment definitely plays a role here and I'm not sure that Prensky considered the socio-economic disparities that exist within our society.

Posted by awiktor on 12/07/2012 at 04:46 PM

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I randomly stumbled upon an informal paper written by a graduate school class. I thought it was great. The students conduct a study attempting to dismiss the term "digital native." Although they do not conclude that "digital natives" absolutely do not exist (how can one really prove or disprove that anyways?!), it does playfully propose we substitute the terms "digital native" and "digital immigrant" with "digital nerd" and "digital normals" respectively. Seems like much more appropriate nomenclature to me! Check out the article here: http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Feb_11/article03.htm

Posted by dcarniaux on 16/02/2012 at 05:11 PM

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I would also like to add the I completely disagree with a line in Prensky's article, "The single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age)_, are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language." It is not about the old school instructors not understanding how to teach the new generation of students, the problem is the teachers old and new who are closed minded and not willing to try different things or to use an idea given by a student. We have plenty of old school teachers using innovation in their classrooms and that is because they are "good" teachers willing to adapt their curriculum to make it more attractive to the students. Whether it be by using technology or just simply by spicing things up a bit.

Posted by jdiaz49 on 16/02/2012 at 12:56 PM

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Although I am on the pro side of the digital natives debate, I must agree with your first comment about Prensky's assertion that digital immigrants speak an entirely different language than digital natives. This simply is not true because we all speak English and live in the same society. It is not like digital immigrants have never sat down in front of a computer or used a cell phone. However, I must disagree with your comment that teachers are unwilling to try students' ideas, because I don't think we should really be looking to our students for new ways to run our classrooms. There are plenty of resources out there for new and old teachers to try in their classroom but many are close minded (as you said) and many simply do not have the resources to use technology effectively in the classroom. The real problem is the latter. How can students learn how to use technology if it is not incorporated into the curriculum or if it is barely even present in the classroom at all?

Posted by jbenedetto2 on 11/07/2012 at 03:10 PM

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I do not think "Digital Natives" exist. We cannot enter all our students into this new Gen-Digital slot because it just isn't accurate. Yes like in everything else in the world some students may be born and it may seem like they are just easily learning new technologies, but that doesn't mean that all of the current students we get in the classroom are this way. Some students don't really use technology that much for school, it may be limited to their phones or maybe using Facebook or they might not even do that. I don't think that our students are all wired in a new way, yes we must keep the classroom interesting and up to date with technology, but that does not necessarily mean that our students will know how to use these technologies. We will have to find time to teach the technology in order for the students to utilize it. Like I mentioned before we do have some students that will be ahead of others and even ahead of the teacher, but others will not be on the same level. As teachers we can learn from those students and ask them to share their experiences and even to help others learn the language of technology. Technology will continue to evolve and it will be an area where we will always have to learn something new, but I do not agree with the term "Digital Natives."

Posted by jdiaz49 on 16/02/2012 at 12:50 PM

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In the article Kellie posted, "Will the Real Digital Native Please Stand Up?", I found what I believe to be the most accurate sentiment about the existence and identity of "digital natives." The original digital natives are students who have been exposed to advanced technology since they started their schooling, kids who would now be in middle school. Julie Evans says, "There's going to be a difference between a student who didn't take his first test online until the seventh grade and a student who started taking online tests in the first grade." As a college student, I agree with that sentiment. The original "digital natives" were born into a world of technology (Internet, mp3 players, social networking) in which the basic framework of modern technology had already been established. In turn, they learned, processed, and communicated information differently than generations before them because of complete technological exposure since birth. I have a 13 year old sister and teach middle school and I notice a tremendous difference in the skill, grammar and spelling of actual writing without the aid of a computer. I think that we are all required to be somewhat technologically adept and plugged in (at different levels) to communicate today, but there is an alarming difference in ways of learning, between 20-somethings whose early foundations only partly involved technology and students who were born into a pretty established world of technology.

Posted by christinacurran1 on 15/02/2012 at 10:26 PM

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As I was reviewing articles, I had been waiting for one to tackle this idea, and I completely agree with Christina (above) about these fundamental differences that exist just from the advances that have been made in such a short time period. While these issues are talked about, I do find it difficult to identify these "Digital Natives" into a generation or a group[ existing or working after a certain year or using a certain invention. But I DO think that this is such an important topic to address , especially, as Christina says, we are working with students who have these different experiences than us and exploring how and what that affects in both us and them.

Posted by mmintz on 16/02/2012 at 09:09 PM

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You might be interested in reading The Shallows. The author traces how technology has influenced the way we think and what the Internet is doing to our brain. If his argument is accurate, and he is doing a good job of convincing me, then our brains are indeed changing in response to technology. For those of us that Prensky would call immigrants, the shift represents change. For those that he would term natives, their brains develop in line with ICTs. So there is, in fact, a difference, and the question becomes whether shifting makes us have an accent.

Posted by drkhturner on 17/02/2012 at 11:47 AM

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Just looked into this book on Amazon. Looks really interesting. Thanks for the recommendation!

Posted by christinacurran1 on 17/02/2012 at 05:22 PM

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I agree Kamanashish Roy -- born "after 1960" seems a little too broad, especially when I compare my forty- year-old coworker's digital literacy to that of my eleven-year-old student's. The definition of the term "Digital Native" is too far sweeping. The word "native" is troubling. To be a native implies occupancy but in a dirty or temporary, soon to be replaced, kind of way. I think if Prensky had developed a theory and measured it in degrees of comfort rather than literacy we would have less to argue about. The only difference I see between a member of Generation Y and say, Baby Boomers, is that younger generations aren't afraid of technology. They don't mind exploring and fooling around with it until they understand it. For the older generations, technology is simply held at a higher reverence and often adults are too afraid of breaking something (or too intimidated) to teach themselves how to use it. Natives do not exist, only those more willing to learn.

Posted by jglazier on 15/02/2012 at 10:05 PM

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I was thinking about this very topic when comparing myself to my students, comparing myself to my cousins (both younger and older) and even to my friends from college... it is all so different... based on time, where they were born, what people had access to. I think that type of debate can be applied to many different areas of study, far beyond what is talked about for "Digital Natives" and, in fact, applies to many different areas of education and how we see people who are seeking to learn (about technology, or anything, for that matter)

Posted by mmintz on 16/02/2012 at 09:05 PM

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I don't think it's possible to be considered a "native' in an area that is constantly evolving. While the youth of our country are more exposed to technology then generations past, even they cannot possible keep up to date with this ever changing industry. I do believe that they are more adaptable to new learning new technologies, but I'm still not completely sold on this idea.

Posted by kelclark123 on 15/02/2012 at 07:48 PM

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I agree. I think technology is evolving so fast that it is absolutely impossible to keep up with everything. I think the key is focusing in on pieces of technology that will benefit one's lifestyle/profession and try to master those. I can't help but think that something like Twitter will be virtually obsolete in five years (remember Myspace?). There is so much time spent trying to keep up that by the time someone adapts to one form of digital language, it has already evolved to the next step.

Posted by CJelinek on 15/02/2012 at 08:44 PM

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I don't think that to be a digital native you have to focus on the technologies that will benefit your lifestyle or profession in the long run. I think what makes a digital native is the ability to quickly adapt and feel comfortable learning new technologies. Sure, at first you might be thrown for a loop, but if you are truly a digital native you will try to figure out how to make a new technology work for you. Also, I think MySpace had a huge impact on people's lifestyles and professions. It was a jumping off point that got us used to online social media in a major way and allowed us to move to a cleaner (at the time) Facebook when people were ready. New technologies don't usually appear out of thin air; they are usually an evolution of past technologies, which is why it is easy for a digital native to learn a new technology. We might not understand it at first, but after a while it because natural and that is what it takes, in my opinion, to be a digital native.

Posted by Michael Keith Stuart on 12/07/2012 at 05:46 PM

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Like the Prensky article points out, it seems like there is a difference between the ways that the technologically literate engage with, process, and respond to information in comparison to those who haven't acquired these skills through early immersion. I think one way that this is reflected is through approaches to "technology troubleshooting." For example, if a student who has years of immersion in technology through computers, cell phones, iPods, etc., they seem to feel much more comfortable actively working through problems that one might encounter online. In contrast, some students (usually older, but not always) who aren't as tech-savvy feel uncomfortable working through online problems without help. Obviously, this debate is too complex for a simple "yes" or "no" answer--but I think it is a useful paradigm for navigating instructional technology.

Posted by cpottroff on 14/02/2012 at 07:01 PM

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Yes, C. The students are overwhelming more comfortable using technology. I think they see it as of a risk. They can write faster and just as quickly erase it. Yes, it still exists but to them it was a failed idea and another can take over immediately. I'm not sure digital natives look at techonogy in the same light.

Posted by rthompsonsmith on 15/02/2012 at 08:52 PM

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I think that is a great point, and one that I do not think about as often as I should when I was reading these articles. This post got me to read the Prensky article and, after thinking about that, and the idea of "troubleshooting" is not one that comes up in my life very often--except when thinking about my own interactions within the school!

Posted by mmintz on 16/02/2012 at 09:03 PM

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write your views here...Digital natives do exist! There is a stark difference in the ways that modern day learner process information. They yearn to learn quickly and immediately. However, there is a need to expand the definition or add a new term to the concept of digital native or digital immigrant. I believe there is a hybrid stage of tech users that began their college experiences with a different more "daily" or "available" concept of technology (like myself). This group began using computers around middle school to communicate but had limited access while still developing a very different and comfortable approach to the use of technology.

Posted by rthompsonsmith on 12/02/2012 at 04:34 PM

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One point about this debate that Prensky seems to significantly overlook is the factor of socioeconomic class. While the generational gap is one way to mark the shift in technological development and its influence on individual learners, it is not the only factor. Social class and access to technology is absolutely the most significant factor in the development of digital literacy. To me, Prensky's original article carelessly overlooks the poor and marks them as insignificant to this educational debate.

Posted by cpottroff on 12/02/2012 at 04:20 PM

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I completely agree with you, socioeconomic status is a huge factor, sometimes the students don't have access to all the new technologies due to the lack of resources. This is another good point and proves that we don't have digital natives. Yes we are in a new era where technology is extremely important, but we all have to learn how to use it and it takes practice and time.

Posted by jdiaz49 on 16/02/2012 at 12:51 PM

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I also agree with you! I find it really interesting that time and time again, Prensky doesn't address socio economics. It seems like the strongest argument against his view and yet he never tries to combat it.

Posted by Lauren Bell on 16/02/2012 at 05:49 PM

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Part of the argument about whether digital natives exist or do not exist has to do with the idea that this group of youth "learn differently" and therefore we need to revamp the education system to meet their new needs. While I am not exactly decided yet on whether they exist or not, I do agree that the students we teach now do not respond well to traditional methods of teaching but as soon as I add some aspect of technology, they are engaged. I do want to note this does not mean throwing technology at them. Instead this could be make a fake facebook page on paper for Alexander the Great using the information provided in the textbook. My students did increasingly better on this assignment rather than a traditional method such as write a paper describing his characteristics because they were comfortable with facebook.

Posted by Lauren Bell on 11/02/2012 at 03:56 PM

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While I agree that we need to change the way we teach to engage and relate to a class of students who do not learn the way former generations did, but I wonder if this will affect them in any way. For instance, is it okay that we allow ditch an essay for a Facebook page? Our students still need to know how to write an essay, don't they?

Posted by kelclark123 on 15/02/2012 at 07:41 PM

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Kelclark, you make a good point about how the value of traditional, academic expectations, like writing an essay, can sometimes be called into question with the advent of technologic incorporation in the classroom. I sometimes wonder how the standards in current curriculum will change or be valued differently as our society continues to change. Prensky mused in his article that certain forms of mathematics will soon become obsolete because of our evolving society's lack of need for them. I do believe that because of rapid tech, scientific, and economic changes, there will be a change in the skills that are deemed essential for a student's success. Perhaps writing and organizing an essay will be considered an archaic artform 20 years down the line. In the "Did You Know?" video, there was a scary fact about projections for 2049 predicting that a home laptop would be able to "exceed the computational abilities of the whole human species." And in 2013, a type of supercomputer is to be created that exceeds the computational capability of the human brain. It's scary to think about and a bit sci-fi but who knows what "brain"power and assistance these supercomputers may be able to provide for academic activities such as essay-writing.

Posted by christinacurran1 on 15/02/2012 at 10:53 PM

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Writing is a way for us to demonstrate our critical and analytical skills and our ability to develop and support an argument. It must be worth something if you can show these abilities even if it doesn't take the form of the standard 5 paragraph essay.

Posted by dcarniaux on 16/02/2012 at 05:01 PM

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I absolutely agree that the critical thinking skills required to write will always be important. It would be nearing the end of human society if we could no longer come up with original thoughts and process other's thoughts using critical thinking and analytical skills. I was thinking about how the cognitive skills that you mentioned may be altered in future generations if there are going to be computers that have high computing capabilities. I am not sure what these capabilities will be but I believe a computer that can double-check our logic is something that can happen.

Posted by christinacurran1 on 16/02/2012 at 07:12 PM

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I wonder whether it was because they were comfortable with facebook or whether it was because the assignment was inherently less "schoolish" and formal.

Posted by drkhturner on 17/02/2012 at 11:45 AM

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Those 2 statistics opened my eyes up, it is crazy to even think that computers are to exceed the human species! That is a perfect example of the phrase, "I've created a monster!"

Posted by jdiaz49 on 17/02/2012 at 03:55 PM

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"A digital native is a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technology, and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts. Alternatively, this term can describe people born in the latter 1960s or later, as the Digital Age began at that time; but in most cases the term focuses on people who grew up with the technology that became prevalent in the latter part of the 20th century, and continues to evolve today." - This is as described in Wikipedia. But thats not really true i guess. Digital Technology started in 60's, thats right but its developing always. Many evolutionary inventions have been made in this decade or last and may be some more outstanding ones will be made near future. So who are born in recent years are also growing up with learning and using these technologies may be without knowing it. So its all about the definition of the term "Digital Natives". If its bounded in some particular 'time line'.. it doesn't EXIST.

Posted by Rishav Patra on 07/01/2012 at 03:32 AM

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This is actually one of my BIG soap-box topics. A counter-perspective and much more useful (and realistic) metaphor - digital residents and digital visitors. We are all continually learning how to use digital media to learn.

Posted by Sara Kajder on 06/01/2012 at 03:02 PM

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In addition to Sara's point, we are making a huge assumption if we assume all students are "digital natives." A student from a low income household may not be a native even if students their age are whizzing around on a Blackberry or furiously typing on a laptop.

Posted by Lauren Bell on 11/02/2012 at 04:05 PM

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I agree on that point. There may be other reasons for students not having access (and therefore knowledge) of digital technology as well. There are parents that limit and/or ban their children from spending time on the computer, phone, television, and other devices. Even if a child knows the technology exists, there needs to be constant access to it and full awareness of its possibilities in order to truly understand what the technology can do. Knowing how to use technology isn't something that is inherent in a student's DNA. It needs to be practiced and learned over time.

Posted by CJelinek on 14/02/2012 at 03:10 PM

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I agree with this necessary complication of the "digital natives" debate. An article I read by Hargittai called "Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in Internet Skills and Uses Among Members of the 'Net Generation'" cites not only social class, race, and education as factors for media/technology literacy but the modes of interaction each user engages with. For example, students who use a wide combination of online games, use email, blogs, research tools, and online texts are most likely to be literate rather than individuals who use technology for more restrictive purposes.

Posted by cpottroff on 14/02/2012 at 07:07 PM

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I couldn't agree more. It seems like students in low-income neighborhoods are being left behind. Is a technology gap the new literacy gap?

Posted by kelclark123 on 15/02/2012 at 07:43 PM

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You're right about the socioeconomic status of a student. However, I work with a student body of 92% Free or reduced lunches. I have a student who speaks no English at home, is still learning English, is at an 3rd grade reading level who's excelled in all subject areas immediately following his family's purchase of an Internet package. We also pro died Jim with a computer. The last three months have revolutionaized his abilities. He uses it nightly to look up new words or meanings. He researches independently. He had no previous training on the computer other than the traditional use of the school's computers an his parents' cell phone. I think it's just the new way of receiving information, just think back to cartoons when we were young.

Posted by rthompsonsmith on 15/02/2012 at 08:58 PM

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I like your usage of the term "digital visitors" because it allows us to accept that technology is evolving at a rapid pace. As educators, we can only choose to implement certain methods or programs related to digital learning into our classrooms since there is SO much out there. Technology does have its place in the classroom but I find it best not to fear misusing it and deem myself an informed, enthusiastic "visitor" who may one day become a "resident" in certain areas.

Posted by christinacurran1 on 15/02/2012 at 10:33 PM

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Initially I was right on board with the “digital native.” It just seemed to make sense. Reading "Will the Real Digital Native Please Stand Up?" John Waters helped change my mind. Waters challenges Prensky's term "digital native" with research. Among the researchers he cites is Hargittai. Her conclusion: "While popular rhetoric would have us believe that young users are generally savvy with digital media, data presented in this article clearly show that considerable variation exists even among fully wired college students when it comes to understanding various aspects of internet use." Her conclusion makes perfect sense. Students are “not equally native” (Waters 2011). Socioeconomic factors are one of the identified culprits.

Posted by dcarniaux on 16/02/2012 at 04:54 PM

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That is so true. Like I said it totally depends on the person as well as the time period. Just because this generation grew up with technology at hand, does not mean all teens are even allowed to use it. A lot of schools teach media literacy to the their students however their work is monitored.

Posted by Ashley W. on 16/02/2012 at 08:30 PM

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I do agree with Laura that socioeconomic factors can impact technology skills but, I think that with free access to social media sites, TV ect I think that students potentially could become a "digital native, just not through conventional means.

Posted by Emma Doyle on 16/02/2012 at 10:11 PM

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