Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

January 16, 2008

I just read an article called “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” and it TOTALLY his home with me. Especially this paragraph: “Today’s students have not just changed incrementally from those of the past, nor simply changed their slang, clothes, body adornments, or styles, as has happened between generations previously. A really big discontinuity has taken place. One might even call it a “singularity” – an event which changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back. This so-called “singularity” is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century.” It is true that even since I went to school things have changed SO drastically and upon mentioning to several people that I am currently taking a class about technology, the conversations easily flows into what people think and feel about how our children use technology vs. how we do or did in the past. Most people have a little bit of fear (as do I) about how fast the technology is changing. How do we keep up? This is my goal for this semester is to learn about ways to stay up to date with the technology. In the first week of classes I can already tell how far I have slipped out of the loop and would like to jump back in. If anyone has suggestions about how to stay up to date, I welcome your comments.

The other comments revolve around the worry that technology is keeping our children from getting into the outdoors and exercising and one of my big things is the lack of face-to-face communication. So many people email or text message now to just blurt out what they need to communicate and don’t take the time to “hear” what the recipient might have to say. I am very much a hypocrite in this, as I use Facebook and I have 4 different email accounts and now this blog which I check on a daily basis. However, I still love actually getting together with people to get the full effect of a conversation (body language, facial expressions, and full back and forth conversations). As for the exercise issue, video game companies are trying to respond to this common concern with systems like the Nintendo Wii, which has gamers mocking the actions that would actually need to be performed in order to fulfill the tasks being seen on screen. We bought a system like this for my brother-in-law for Christmas and the guys were teasing me when my turn came up and I stood up to perform the actions, while they sat back during their turns and snapped their wrists or swung their arms, etc. I didn’t see the point to a physically interactive game without actually getting into the action. This is where the “digital immigrants” part comes in – stepping back into our known, comfortable ways, but I tried to step out of that box.

I enjoyed the part where Prensky lists several examples of the “digital immigrant accent”, because I saw it every day at the law firm. One of our protocols was to save all client related emails to our doc mgt system, then print a copy for the file (if the lawyer wanted a printed copy, which of course, all of them did!). The other example that stood out for me was the phone calls about receiving emails. I had attended an email/time management seminar and one of the key points made was how much time is stolen from our day through the interruptions of emails popping up and then having us open them (most times out of curiosity) and then come back to them later. Two of the tips given to solve this issue were to open them and do one of the 4-Ds (deal with it now, decide when, delegate, delete) and to set a few times a day to check email only. I continue to do the 4-Ds, but attempted checking my mail only a few times a day and was then on the phone replying, “No, I have not checked my mail yet” LOL.

I had sort of grouped myself in with the “digital immigrants” group since I did not really grow up using the digital language, however, by one of the definitions given in the article, I do fit into the “digital natives” group:
“Digital Immigrants think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should they – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.” I do think that learning can and should ALWAYS be fun and I did spend my formative years (and now some of my time as a new Mom) watching Sesame Street.

I strongly agree with this article that we need to change our content and our methodologies to meet the needs of our students and bring learning BACK to them and out of the dark ages. We can also learn from each other. Several times it is mentioned how easily they learn the digital language because it IS their language. And it definitely isn’t WHETHER to use technology, but HOW!! This will, of course, mean increased support from staff, administrators, school boards, and parents. Banning together to bring technology to our schools – sounds great!! Well, there are 20 odd people in ECI 831 that are trying to accomplish just that.   🙂


4 Responses to “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”

  1. mstina Says:

    Connie – isn’t this an eye opening article that Marc Prensky wrote? Although it has been a while since he first wrote the article, I think his points are still valid. I love his philosophy and have shared it with others to help them understand that there is a gap the way that teachers are connecting with their students. I am glad it has inspired you and I can see you are well on your way to becoming a native, just by starting your blog! Good luck! Tina

  2. kolson29 Says:

    Agree with you on just about all the points, you’ve done an awesome job of summing things up. Great post 🙂

  3. Cindy Seibel Says:

    Hi Connie. We’ve also used Prensky’s work alot to spark the conversation. Funny how it is really just the old adage – Walk a mile in my shoes!
    I had the opportunity to listen to Prensky at a small seminar. He brought in students from the local middle school and interviewed them. Having the students there really brought his point home.
    Thanks for visiting this work and providing a great summary.

  4. Shaun Loeppky Says:

    I enjoyed the article as well.
    My only concern about Prensky is his lack of contribution to peer reviewed journals. I did a research paper and found I couldn’t use much of his work. Of course, that was over a year ago, and I am sure my searches were not a s effective as a beginning Master’s student!!!!

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